By Samuel Greengard
In less than two decades, the World Wide Web has been transformed from a bold new medium into a mainstream tool for businesses, educational institutions, charitable organizations and government. A new report from domain registrar VeriSign indicates that more than 252 million top-level domain names now exist worldwide, and the number grew by 2.5 percent since the third quarter of 2012. The total number of .com and .net registrations topped 8 million.
In all, the Web has grown for eight consecutive quarters. What’s more, the renewal rate during the fourth quarter of last year was 72.9 percent. During that time, China moved up from the 8th to 7th holder of top-level domains (TLD). In addition, VeriSign found that 85 percent of .com and .net domain names in the active zone resolve to a Website, meaning that a user visiting that domain name would find an actual site.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, VeriSign’s average daily Domain Name System (DNS) query load was 77 billion, across all TLDs operated by VeriSign. This translated into a peak of 123 billion. Compared to the previous quarter, the daily average increased 16 percent, and the peak increased 20.4 percent. Year over year, the daily average increased 21.5 percent, and the peak increased 5.3 percent.
Not surprisingly, VeriSign also found that the online world has changed considerably over the last couple of years. The numbers are more than the sum of domain registrations. As sites have expanded, the virtual world has morphed from an environment of information scarcity to information overload.
Fueling this change is big data, which VeriSign says is likely to grow from a value of $6.3 billion in 2012 to $48.3 billion by 2018.That’s a compound rate of 40.5 percent during this time span.
VeriSign reports that the Internet—and the growing number of domains—is changing the dynamics of business in important ways. It enables multiple players to gather similar data and exponentially increases the volume of relevant data. Plus more powerful tools have made this data more usable. VeriSign notes that companies can now insert intelligence into their DNS servers in order to analyze the abundance of data that may flow into their systems.
The ability to analyze DNS transactions gives companies greater insight into precisely how domain names are being used, including their functionality, connectivity and reach. They can also find out what information users leverage the most, which helps companies make better decisions about their future business strategies and needs. Because every nearly every Internet transaction travels through a DNS server, the data evolves into a business differentiator when it is analyzed correctly.
VeriSign also reports that DNS data can become an important tool in securing the network. Being able to analyze network activity and traffic through DNS queries can help network administrators determine where malicious traffic comes from and then prevent access to these sources where Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and spam originate.
IT executives should focus on implementing security best practices in order to quickly, thoroughly and effectively mitigate a wide range of cyber attacks, advises Scott Courtney, vice president, Infrastructure Engineering, VeriSign. Because not all companies are able to develop an internal cyber-intelligence capability, he adds, they may want to work with service providers that can help them quickly identify and understand the various security incidents and their implications, determine effective mitigation and remediation tactics, and develop a clear plan to ensure security.