Domain Registrars battle COVID-19 Websites


Namecheap Inc., a budget hosting provider, has put a stop to automated registrations of domains that reference COVID-19. This comes after a surge in fraudulent websites hoping to profit from the pandemic. Just a few of these online scams consist of websites selling fake vaccines and cures, infection tracking sites and fraudulent charity websites.

On 26th March, Namecheap’s CEO, Richard Kirkendall, said that the company was removing terms such as “coronavirus”, “COVID” and “vaccine” from the domain availability search tool.

While company employees still can manually register a legitimate domain, Kirkendall said that the company was working with authorities to “proactively prevent and take down any fraudulent or abusive domains or websites related to COVID19 or the Coronavirus.”

At the same time, GoDaddy is also taking action against such online criminal activity and has already taken down several fraudulent sites as part of its “human review process.”

A GoDaddy spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate abuse on our platform and our Universal Terms of Service (UTOS) gives us broad discretion to act on complaints, and this includes COVID-19 abuse. To date, our teams have already investigated and removed COVID-19 fraud sites in response to reports, and our vigilance will continue long after the COVID-19 crisis comes to an end.”

Over in Canada, Tucows Inc is flagging all “corona” and “covid” names for manual review. According to Graeme Bunton, spokesperson for the company, Tucows was in search of any particular sites that promoted fake cures or tests.

Combat efforts by these companies comes after New York Attorney General Letitia James wrote to the largest domain registrars online, asking for assistance in fighting against this new approach to fraud. These letters were sent to GoDaddy, Dynadot, Name.com, Namecheap, Register.com, and Endurance International Group.