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October 17, 2003

Verisign Sucks

After announcing the sale of the registrar branch of Network Solutions, Verisign attended the scheduled ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee meeting in Washington D.C., where they announced they would be reviving the SiteFinder and wildcard DNS. Verisign made it perfectly clear that they will take full advantage of the government granted monopoly over the .com and .net registries (which they retained after selling Network Solutions off). The entire purpose of the Security and Stability Advisory Committee meeting was, unbelievably, to discuss issues of key concern to ensuring the security and stability of the network with regards to the wildcard DNS changes that Verisign’s Sitefinder service implements. Verisign doesn’t seem to get this key fact. They repeatedly showed during the week that they are not terribly concerned with such mundane trivial issues, but rather care only about exploiting their monopoly. Refusing to share any of the methods and raw data behind their “polls” and “industry analysis” which shows SiteFinder to be of no harm.

Even when XO Communications (a major network–broadband provider) and others provided extremely detailed evidence of the increased bandwidth load and detrimental effects on core utilities that SiteFinder is directly responsible for, Verisign’s Ken Silva dismissed them as being hypothetical worst case scenarios, further stating that “The service ran for a number of weeks, and quite frankly, we did not experience nor did our users experience the catastrophes we’re hearing are theoretically possible. We’re not seeing the odd instabilities that are claimed.”

When Verisign defended their service by citing unpublished polls and “industry analysis” which showed support for SiteFinder, the ICANN members asked for more details about the methodology behind the polls, and for some information of the “industry analysts”. Verisign’s only reply was that information was all protected proprietary information not available for dissemination. Committee Chairman Stephen Crocker suggested those were vital details for evaluating the poll results saying “t’s not a matter of stacking the deck, it’s what are you measuring.” Verisign’s reply? Their vice president Chuck Gomes said:

“I’m utterly clueless about how what we’ve been talking about for the last few minutes has to do with security and stability”

While Matt Larson of Verisgn 

“suggested that “you guys don’t think consumers are relevant” and that committee members were unduly focused on the travails of network operators affected by the Site Finder changes.”

Verisign’s continuing mantra is that security and stability are secondary to user experience and that only Verisign knows and understands usability and user experience issues. Maybe they should talk to all the UA and IA folks that have lined up against the brain dead SiteFinder service. These issues must be balanced, and it is a very fine line to walk balancing them. Verisigns’s refusal to reveal any details of it’s “polls” makes it impossible to accept their results as anything except propaganda to support the companies position. There are documented and detailed reports of genuine issues that have been created solely because of SiteFinder, or significantly exacerbated by it’s wildcard DNS feature. Verisign’s refusal to cooperate with the committee’s attempts to find a satisfactory way forward for all, coupled with their announcement that they will give 30–60 days notice prior to turning SiteFinder back on–in essence thumbing their nose at the rest of the community–only serve to reinforce that control of the two most popular registries needs to be seperated, at least from Verisign.

More about Verisign from me.

Posted by Eric at October 17, 2003 05:38 PM | TrackBack
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