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VeriSign: Data Doesn't Support Site Finder Criticism

October 7, 2003

VeriSign says its Site Finder service, which it "temporarily" closed over the weekend, did not "in any manner compromise" the stability, security or performance of the Internet. Launched on Sept. 15, Site Finder directed Internet users who mistyped domain names to a VeriSign managed search site instead of the traditional error response. 

The Site Finder page quickly became one of the more heavily traveled sites on the Web because of the redirection and prompted a firestorm of criticism from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the chief governing body of the Internet, and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), a technical advisory group of the Internet Society that oversees the Internet standards process. 

VeriSign, which has a contract with ICANN to be the registrar for the .com and .net domain names, implemented the Site Finder service through changes to the .com and .net core domain name system (DNS). 

On Sept. 23, the IAB issued a commentary entitled "Architectural Concerns on the use of DNS Wildcards." The commentary describes various implications of the implementation of DNS wildcards in a zone, paying particular attention to VeriSign's deployment of a "wildcard A record" in the .com and .net zones of the Internet. 

ICANN also claims the wildcard VeriSign deployed has "adversely affected anti-spam software, e-mail deliveries, and core DNS operations, as well as raised privacy concerns." 

On Oct. 3, ICANN demanded VeriSign discontinue the service. While denying all the allegations, the Mountain View, Calif.-based registrar agreed to shut down Site Finder over the weekend in order to obtain a "fair hearing" before ICANN, which meets in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the issue.


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