In a bid to cut down on fraud and inappropriate content, the organization responsible for administering Russia's .ru top-level domain names is tightening its procedures.
Starting April 1, anyone who registers a .ru domain will need to provide a copy of their passport or, for businesses, legal registration papers. Right now, domains can be set up with no verification - a practice that has allowed scammers to quickly set up .ru domains under bogus names. The changes will help Russia align its rules with international best practices, said Olga Ermakova, informational projects manager with the Coordination Center for the .ru top-level domain, in an e-mail interview. The .ru administrators care about the "cleanness" of the domain, she added. "We don't need negative content, and such content is often [created] by unknown users."
Loopholes in the domain name system help spammers, scammers and operators of pornographic Web sites to avoid detection on the Internet by concealing their identity. Criminals often play a cat-and-mouse game with law enforcement and security experts, popping up on different domains as soon as their malicious servers are identified.
Criminals in eastern Europe have used .ru domains for a while, registering domain names under fake identities and using them to send spam or set up command-and-control servers to send instructions to networks of hacked computers. With the new domain registration requirements, it will be more difficult for criminals to continue with business as usual. At the very least, the requirement that registrants must submit paper documents will make setting up domains a more costly and time-consuming process.