In the spring of 2021, the Domain Coordination Center conducted a study among Russian entrepreneurs, which revealed that 77% of large businesses and 68% of small businesses preferred the domain .RU. This is a natural consequence of the need to promote the product in the national market, because, according to marketers, at the same time, reaching the target audience is many times more effective. Interestingly, the registration of the site with the .RU and .RF domain also suggests that the company is engaged in honest business and is not afraid of problems with the law. Andrei Kuzmichev, CEO of RU-CENTER, spoke about the features of the domain system in Russia and the fraud associated with it.
How much domains cost and how to earn on them
— Tell me, please, what does RU-CENTER do? What are the main areas of activity of the company?
— Our company is one of the largest domain registrars in Russia. We also provide related services — from hosting and selling SSL certificates to renting servers. A significant part of our activity are business projects. The history of RU-CENTER began at the dawn of Runet, so many key projects of the Network have since been our customers.
— In 2021, the cost of the domain name in the post-Soviet space was calculated. It turned out that in Russia it is the cheapest — the cost of registration is only $2.7. Why is it so cheap and what causes a high price in other countries?
— In Russia, the cost of the domain name last changed in 2017 and since then has been 144 rubles. This makes the national Russian domain one of the cheapest in the world. The main part of the amount goes to the administrator of the domain zone, which bears the costs of maintaining the infrastructure.
To the cost of the tariff, you should add the share of the registrar, who also bears the costs. Not only technical ones, but also, for example, a legal one. The domain has long become a significant business asset, there are many disputes between business entities around it.
In many national domain zones, the annual cost is on average $10–20, which is not a significant amount for a working business. There are also completely “barrage” tariffs of hundreds of dollars — usually in small island states or some African countries.
Above, I talked about general-purpose domains. And there are thematic domain zones, for example, .shop, .top or .dev, which are administered by Google. These are initially commercial projects, a significant part of the costs in them lie in the field of marketing for promotion, and therefore prices are higher.
— A few years ago, stories about earnings on domain names were popular, for example: I bought dacha.ru for 100 rubles, and sold for 1 million. Is such a way of earning now possible and, if so, what profit can be made?
— It is possible. Moreover, it seems to me that now there are more opportunities. We see this in practice — only over the past year several transactions have been made to sell domains with a record value of several tens of millions of rubles. The average cost of selling a domain, which, of course, is less, but is tens of thousands of rubles, is also growing.
Large business during the pandemic began to evaluate the value of online assets in a new way. Based on this request, the infrastructure of the secondary market has also changed — it has become more secure and transparent, there is no risk of deception or legally incorrect assignment of the domain.
But such earnings are not easy money, as it seems at first glance. First of all, substantial investment is needed. As a rule, domainers have a portfolio of thousands and tens of thousands of domains, of which a small number are sold over the year. Therefore, several hundred people in Russia are engaged in such activities on a professional level.
How to protect a domain from fraudsters
— Is it possible to steal the purchased domain and sell it again? How can a domain name be protected from such fraud?
— Information about the domain owner is registered in a special registry. Therefore, even if your domain was stolen or you lost your login/password to the management system, you must immediately contact the registrar to restore access. Changing the administrator in the registry is a process that involves checking the applicant. You need to write a statement, provide confirmation from exactly the mail that appears in the register, etc. For security reasons, you can disable any remote actions with a domain name — some registrars have such options. All changes will be made only by personal presence in the registrar’s office.
— Suppose there is a site named dog.ru. We create a new resource and call it d0g.ru, after which we steal all the content. Could the first site protect itself from such a violation of intellectual property? If so, how can this be done?
— In the described version, two categories of violations can potentially be found. Firstly, a violation in the registration of a domain name if dog.ru was a registered trademark. Accordingly, without the permission of the copyright holder, registration of domain names both coinciding with the trademark and close to the degree of mixing is prohibited. This degree is determined by the court; the jurisprudence in this regard is varied. But in the above example, I believe that linguistic examination and the court would side with the plaintiff.
If the domain is not registered as a trademark, such actions can also be challenged, but from the point of view of the court, the reasoning will be weaker. Especially if we are talking about using the commonly used word — dog.
Secondly, in the example there is a violation in terms of copying content. You can contact the hosting provider on which the site is located about a violation of intellectual property rights. Information about who hosts the site can be checked on the website of any registrar using whois. The hosting provider must already contact the offender with a request to remove this content. If this measure does not work, it is necessary to go to court, notarizing the violation.
Judging by practice, in the case of one-time violations (for example, copying photos of the assortment of an online store), it is often possible to solve everything at the pre-trial stage.
Fraud on sites and how to protect yourself from it
— In 2018, 250 million rubles were stolen from Russians through false sites. How does theft occur in general if almost all bank transactions are encrypted?
— With all the variety of fraudulent schemes, they can be divided into two categories. The first is related to the hacking of the information infrastructure of financial institutions, and the second is based on client deception and social engineering. In recent years, especially with the outbreak of the pandemic, there has been a shift towards a second type of fraud. The presence of encryption is not a barrier for fraudsters: the transfer of funds to them is carried out voluntarily by the injured party. But fraudulent resources’ life cycle is short — until the first complaints or until they are discovered by monitoring systems.
— Even though Internet phishing has existed for several years, the number of victims has been growing every year. Are there ways to protect yourself from such fraud?
— The complete eradication of Internet phishing is unrealistic. The question is how to minimize the damage from the phenomenon and its spread. There are two areas of defense. On the one hand – increasing computer literacy of the user, on the other — increasing the speed of detection of fraudulent actions. This applies to false sites that we talked about, and various ads on social networks or specialized boards. Now there are tools for quickly finding and responding to this kind of fraud.
Interviewed by Kristina Firsova