Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) and “uber-phishing” here we come!

Wow, on the front page of the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8333194.stm

I love this snippet:

“The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) said the "fantastically complicated technical feature" allowing IDNs would represent the "biggest change" to the coding that underlies the internet since it was invented four decades ago.”

Make no mistake, this is going to be MASSIVE! Countries like India and China will register IDNs with gay abandon.

Basically the Internet authorities are going to allow domain names (i.e. web addresses) to be registered using non-English languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Cyrillic etc. This is going to be very interesting because some non-English languages, such as Greek and Cyrillic, have characters that are very similar to certain letters in the ASCII character set. I am thinking of Greek letters like Alpha (A) and Omicron (o).

So you will gets emails asking you to go to www.amazon.com and change your password, but the “o” in Amazon will actually be a Greek “o” (i.e. omicron), and the web site will be run by a crook! There’s currently nothing stopping you entering web addresses in upper case either, but http://WWW.PAYPAL.COM is different to http://www.paypal.com if you use the Greek Alpha (A) symbol. Differentiating between "A" and "a" will be important!

I’m sure these issues must have been addressed, I need to read the relevant RFC’s, but if they haven’t, oh what fun times lie ahead! 🙂

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