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Why domain parking companies get named on “bad host” lists

Old data leads to parking companies landing on malware lists.

Last October Oversee.net was named the “#1 Bad Host” by HostExploit, a group that compiles data about malware and other nefarious things on the web.

It’s not the first time a domain parking company or registrar has been called out by HostExploit.

So why is it that domain parking companies land on these bad lists?

At a high level, it’s all about old data.

“There’s a big misunderstanding about the parking industry as a whole,” explains Aaron Kvitek, VP, Marketing & Communications at Oversee.net. “It’s not just on HostExploit’s part, but also their data providers.”

The problem is that domain parking companies frequently park recently expired domain names. These domain names may have been used for nefarious purposes before they expired, and data providers don’t update the change of ownership for around ninety days.

HostExploit and similar groups depend on these data providers for data about which domains are being used for bad purposes.

“The parking companies that have the domains parked on their platforms are going to be flagged by those data providers even though the domain has changed ownership and is in no way, shape, or form spreading malware,” said Kvitek.

Registrars also get dinged for their customers’ activities. While registrars can generally police what happens with domains on their network, it’s impossible to stamp it out.

Since Oversee.net previously owned Moniker, it was penalized with both parked domains and when Moniker registrants were up to no good.

Although Moniker was taken off Oversee.net’s network in May, it will still end up hurting Oversee.net in HostExploit’s next report because of the data lag.

So can’t groups like HostExploit just get their data providers to refresh their data more often or track changes in domain ownership? Kvitek said it’s just not a high priority for data providers. (Google is one of the largest).

Oversee.net is no longer ranked the #1 Bad Host. Kvitek says the company took steps to better filter the domain names it was buying to avoid those with known problems.

“They are always going to slip through the cracks, but we got a little better at that,” he said.

Moniker also worked to move customers off its systems if they were using their domains for bad purposes.

In another positive development, Oversee.net recently signed a deal with security research firm Team Cymru to share data about malicious attacks, badware, etc.

Domain parking companies are at a disadvantage when it comes to “bad host” lists. But Oversee.net’s experience shows that parking companies can also take steps to limit their exposure.

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