ICANN unveils its list of over 1,930 applications for generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) as it expands the Domain Name System (DNS) of the internet.
Some of the biggest brands that have applied for the new dot anything domain names include Amazon, Barclays, Samsung, Hyatt, Heinz and Citi.
Some experts say the move is the most dramatic change the internet has seen in the last forty years.
"It's a very bold move from ICANN to go from launching one or two domain name extensions a year to opening up hundreds of Top Level Domain names in this way," says Stephen Ewart, Marketing Manager for Names.co.uk. "For the first time ever, we will see brands having complete control over their own gTLD. Our concern is that this could lead to more Facebook-style walled gardens as big brands seek to keep you in their own areas of the Internet. Make no mistake, this change to the domain name world will lead to more competition and consumer choice, but it could also be viewed as a silent privatisation of the web - for better or worse."
The new domain names could help change the way the web is navigated and could help companies in driving new business models.
"The Internet has become engrained in the way millions of us live our lives, so the new gTLDs could be a really disruptive force," says Dave Thomas, Head of Sedo UK. "That said however, they also offer tremendous potential to spark new business models, new markets and drive a revolution in how we navigate the Web.
Yet, when all is said and done too often we forget that the Internet is still young and evolving; today is a good reminder of that. Arguably the 'Big Reveal' is one of many future innovations that will change how we connect and communicate online. One thing is for sure; the Internet will never be the same once the new extensions go live next year."
However, security experts warn that the introduction of new top level domains can be an opportunity for cybercriminals to create legitimate looking websites.
"There's a real concern that cybercriminals could seek these new top level domains announced today to create legitimate looking websites using well-known brand names," says Carl Leonard, Senior Security Research Manager EMEA at Websense. "It will be increasingly difficult for consumers to instinctively know what may be an illegitimate site carrying potential threats.
Applying for a generic domain top-level domain is by no means cheap. The application fee is a whopping $185,000 with an annual fee of $25,000.
"The high price of the entrance fee to apply for a TLD should be a deterrent to cybercriminals, but businesses need to do two things in preparation for the introduction of these new domains," says Leonard. "Firstly, they need to ensure that their brand is protected by pre-registering their company name and trademarks under the new top-level domains and secure the rights to these. Secondly, take precautions so that employees at work and at home aren't accidently accessing bogus sites by ensuring they protect access to these malicious sites in real time."
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