How the .ai domain is benefiting cybercriminals (and a small Caribbean island)

Given all the interest in AI at the moment it’s no surprise that cybercriminals are keen to cash in with a rise in AI themed attacks.

One way of doing this is with a .ai domain name. An unexpected beneficiary of this is the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla which has .ai as its country code.

According to New York Times, Anguilla’s treasury made almost $3 million in related fees in 2018 alone. Not bad for an island that’s only 16 miles long and 3.5 miles wide.

Research from Netcraft shows that since 2013, the number of .ai domains used by web servers has grown 12,523 percent from 913 to 115,245 domains. Interest in AI means there’s been a bigger explosion in growth since the beginning of 2023 making .ai the 123rd most popular TLD as of September.

This has paralleled a rise in the number of .ai domains being blocked for indulging in malicious activity including phishing attacks, affiliate marketing scams and cryptocurrency scams.

Interestingly an .ai domain is quite expensive, costing around $60, compared to $10 for a .zip domain or a .com domain. Netcraft researchers suspect that criminals believe that the implied ‘legitimacy’ of .ai domains is worth the extra cost to register them. This is especially true for sites related to cryptocurrency scams where there’s a high expectation of return. The recent hype surrounding AI perhaps makes people less wary about clicking on these addresses too.

You can read more on the Netcraft blog.

Photo Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock

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