Saturday, July 11, 2009

Whois needs address validation

A blog post here about a scam where people are sent to a site selling false anti-virus software demonstrated to me how introducing address validation to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Whois database could help in the fight again such scammers.

The blog documents the websites through which the user is sent by the scam, and shows the whois entry for each of the sites.

Here's the first:

I don't think there is a Booth Street in Edmonton, but the real giveaway is the 6-digit postal code - not even close to a Canadian format.

The second:

Again, not a valid Brazilian postal code format.

The third:

An English-language address, in Melbourne, but in Russia? And with a 5-digit postal code? Shouldn't there be alarm bells going off somewhere about this obvious fakery??

Wouldn't we be better served if ICANN introduced validation, ranging from simple postal code format validation, through "can this address be in that country" validation right down to address-level validation, into their web registration database? I'm not fool enough to think that having to add a real address would stop scammers, but it would slow them down, as they'd have to find somebodys else's real address to add. Furthermore, having a database of only real addresses (i.e. of high data quality) instead of the current hodge-podge based on trust, would enable analysis of the data to improve identification of potential criminal activity. The current whois database may be fit for ICANN's purposes, but data quality it ain't.

1 comment:

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