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Little Territory, Big Domain Name

December 26, 2011

What is now one of the most popular domain name extensions in the world originally belonged to a tiny territory with only a population of 1,400.

According to Verisign's latest Domain Name Industry Brief, at the end of the third quarter of this year, .tk (Tokelau) entered the rankings as the seventh largest Top Level Domain (TLD) in the world. It's now also the third largest country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), exceeded only by Germany's extension (.de) and the UK's (.uk).  

So how has a 10km2 territory of New Zealand's situated in the South Pacific Ocean achieved such popularity with its domain extension? It's no longer being operated by Tokelau. A Dutch company bought the rights to .tk, which now provides free domain registrations. 

However, before rushing off to grab a freebie domain name, it's worth noting registering a free .tk domain does not give people using the service legal registrant rights. It's also the free aspect that may have not only contributed to .tk's popularity, but reported reputation that deters some online shoppers from purchasing from a site using the extension.

According to an Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) study from earlier this year, the .tk extension was one of the top 4 for malicious domain registrations. AWG said .tk was one of two free services heavily abused by phishers - fraudsters who extract credit card and other sensitive financial information from their victims.

Other highlights from the latest Brief:

- There  were 220 million domain name registrations across all TLDs at the end of the third quarter;  an increase of 4.9 million domain names, or 2.3 percent over the previous quarter. Verisign says registrations grew by more than 18.0 million, or 8.9 percent, since the third quarter of 2010.

- Approximately  86.9 million ccTLD registrations were recorded at the end of the third quarter in total, up 2.7 percent on the second quarter of 2011 and up approximately 9.8 percent on the third quarter of 2010. 

Australia's .au extension continued to be among the 20 largest ccTLDs in the third quarter and registrations exceeded 4 percent quarter over quarter growth.

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