A First Look at COVID-19 Domain Names: Origin and Implications

Ryo Kawaoka, Daiki Chiba, Takuya Watanabe, Mitsuaki Akiyama, Tatsuya Mori

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

This work takes a first look at domain names related to COVID-19 (Cov19doms in short), using a large-scale registered Internet domain name database, which accounts for 260 M of distinct domain names registered for 1.6 K of distinct top-level domains. We extracted 167 K of Cov19doms that have been registered between the end of December 2019 and the end of September 2020. We attempt to answer the following research questions through our measurement study: RQ1: Is the number of Cov19doms registrations correlated with the COVID-19 outbreaks?, RQ2: For what purpose do people register Cov19doms? Our chief findings are as follows: (1) Similar to the global COVID-19 pandemic observed around April 2020, the number of Cov19doms registrations also experienced the drastic growth, which, interestingly, pre-ceded the COVID-19 pandemic by about a month, (2) 70% of active Cov19doms websites with visible content provided useful information such as health, tools, or product sales related to COVID-19, and (3) non-negligible number of registered Cov19doms was used for malicious purposes. These findings imply that it has become more challenging to distinguish domain names registered for legitimate purposes from others and that it is crucial to pay close attention to how Cov19doms will be used/misused in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPassive and Active Measurement - 22nd International Conference, PAM 2021, Proceedings
EditorsOliver Hohlfeld, Andra Lutu, Dave Levin
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Pages39-53
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783030725815
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event22nd International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: 2021 Mar 292021 Apr 1

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12671 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349

Conference

Conference22nd International Conference on Passive and Active Measurement, PAM 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period21/3/2921/4/1

Keywords

  • Blocklist
  • COVID-19
  • Domain names
  • Phishing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • Computer Science(all)

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