Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nation of Tokelau

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Tokelau is a self-governing territory of New Zealand consisting of three coral atolls in the southern Pacific Ocean. It lies north of the Samoan Islands, east of Tuvala, south of the Phoenix Islands and northwest of the Cook Islands. It's believed that the islands were first settled approximately 1000 years ago. Tokelau is a free and democratic nation with no political parties, holding elections every 3 years. And Tokelau is the first 100% solar powered nation in the world.

So if you know anything about this blog, you're probably wondering why I have an interest in this small group of islands in the Pacific.  Well, it's not the islands, the nation, or even the people per se that interest me, it's their ccTLD, .tk that I have recently become aware of.  Tokelau allows any individual to register a domain under this ccTLD, and with few restrictions (such as sexual, drug, hate and firearms content), users and small businesses may register any number of domains free of charge.  "Special" .tk domains, such as those conatining the trademark domain names for most Fortune 500 companies must be purchased. Users may also opt to forward their web and email traffic.

The nation of Tokelau boasts a population of 1,499 as of the October 2016 census, good for 237th in the world.  What makes this small population most remarkable is the fact that more than 28 million domains have been registered under the .tk ccTLD.  According to a McAfee survey in 2006, .tk domains were twice as likely to be used for "unwanted behaviors" when compared to the global average. In 2010, the Anti-Phishing Working Group noted that 21.5% of all worldwide phishing originated from .tk domains.

So what does this mean for you?  Have you ever done legitimate business with a person or organization coming from a .tk domain?  I can't say that I have.  And other than the free domain registration (which hardly matters with what GoDaddy and other registrars are selling domains for these days), why would anyone want to register their domain with such a small, and otherwise unknown nation?  They claim to have rules, but are clearly not enforcing them. And how could they with 28 million domains and counting registered? As of right now, it's probably safe to just blacklist the entire .tk for now.


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