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ICANN Shutting Down EstDomains Nov. 24

Widely regarded as a haven for spammers and cybercriminals, EstDomains must now designate a recipient for the 281,000 domain registrations it manages.

A day after Web hosting site McColo had its Internet access cut off for serving spam and malware sites, Internet registrar EstDomains was notified that it will be deaccredited on Nov. 24, a decision that will put the controversial domain registrar out of business.

EstDomains is widely regarded as a haven for spammers and cybercriminals. In the last five days, 38.89% (14 of 36) of active EstDomains-registered domains appearing in e-mail have been listed in the URIBL (Uniform Resource Identifier Blacklist), a database used to identify domains associated with spammers for possible blocking.

Late last month, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that oversees the accreditation of Internet domain name registrars, sent a notice of termination to EstDomains. It cited the felony conviction of EstDomains' then-president, Vladimir Tsastsin, of credit card fraud, money laundering, and document forgery as the reason for the termination.

ICANN suspended its decision following receipt of a faxed letter from EstDomains CEO Konstatin Poltev that argued Tsastsin wasn't president of the company anymore, an effort to deprive ICANN of the contractual grounds on which its termination of EstDomains' accreditation as a domain registrar was based.

The gambit didn't work and on Nov. 7 ICANN, in a letter to Poltev and Tsastsin, reaffirmed its plan to deaccredit EstDomains, effective this month. It instructed the company to designate a recipient for the 281,000 domain registrations EstDomains currently manages by Nov. 14.

An ICANN spokesperson wasn't immediately available to explain the fate of those domains if no recipient is designated.

In September, another ISP linked to spam and malware, Atrivo/Intercage, was depeered, which means that large Internet service providers stopped carrying its traffic. This effectively removed the company from the Internet. EstDomains, as it happens, was a major Atrivo/Intercage customer.

While efforts to take down the infrastructure of cybercrime may provide some short-term satisfaction -- the closure of McColo reduced spam by 50% to 75%, according to various estimates -- security experts expect that the reduced volume of spam and malware is only temporary.

"[T]his decrease in spam volume will not be sustained and it is certain that while this battle may be won the spam war is not over," said Symantec anti-spam engineer Dermot Harnett in a blog post Thursday.

Given the current economic situation, the determination of spammers and cybercriminals to carry on represents the kind of job security that only security researchers can fully appreciate.

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