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Lauren Tracey of GoDaddy Corporate Domains explains the likely domain trends in 2023, and how to future-proof your portfolio.
The past year has seen tremendous change in global businesses, as companies have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it now appears that a global recession is taking shape. As budgets are trimmed, domain portfolio management will come under additional pressure to become even more cost-effective and lean while still protecting the company’s online assets.
2023 GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD) Index
GCD recently released its 2023 GoDaddy Corporate Domains Index (2023 GCD Index) which analysed the corporate websites of the Global 2000, Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the top 2000 public companies in the world. The Global 2000 rankings are based on four metrics: sales, profit, assets, and market value.
The 2023 GCD Index benchmarked how domain names are managed at the Global 2000 corporations. This entailed looking at metrics such as portfolio resolution, most top-level domains (TLDs) used, security statistics such as registry locking and DNS usage, email authentication, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) adoption across their corporate websites.
Domain resolution dips for Top 50 portfolios
In a perfect world, best practice would dictate that more than 90% of a corporation’s domain names portfolio should resolve to live content. However, the 2023 GCD Index showed that only 27% of domains resolved for the top 50 corporate portfolios. This likely signifies that a large proportion of the top 50’s domain portfolios consist of defensive domain registrations meant to fend off infringers and illicit activity by bad actors.
Because companies will be asked to do more with less in 2023, it’s time for them to analyse their portfolio to see what can be trimmed. Simply monitoring defensively registered domains for page views can help organizations determine which defensive names are deemed necessary (e.g., visited often, critical brand protection) and which can possibly be removed from the portfolio. Cost-cutting often leads to efficiency and streamlining so it will be interesting to see if the resolution numbers increase in next year’s index.
Registry locking stagnates
In the 2023 GCD Index, the Global 2000 reported that just 17% of domains used for primary corporate websites had a registry lock. Registry locked domains are impervious to automated updates unless an offline security protocol is completed by both the registry and registrar. It is the highest level of domain security that can be deployed and helps protect against unauthorised access from hackers, disgruntled employees and even unintended mistakes who may want to access registration data for a domain name. These numbers remain unchanged from the 2022 survey, showing that registry locking is not gathering momentum or popularity. Hopefully more of these global corporations will see the importance of registry locking and take action this year.
Third-party DNS usage increases
The 2023 GCD Index showed that usage of third-party DNS providers for primary corporate websites ticked up slightly to 57%, compared to last year’s 55%. Generally offering a 99.999% uptime guarantee, third-party DNS providers allow scarce internal technical resources to focus their efforts elsewhere in the organisation. Though 2% doesn’t seem like a major jump, it is a positive sign that companies are seeing the importance of outsourcing DNS to third-parties who are focused on providing this specialised service.
DNSSEC adoption grows
DNSSEC is a security protocol that helps protect companies against ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks, which typically involve email spoofing and attackers injecting a malicious DNS entry into the DNS server’s cache. Looking at primary corporate websites of the Global 2000, the 2023 GCD Index showed a slight increase in DNSSEC adoption from 5.1% in 2022 to 5.9% in 2023. Though a seemingly small increase, the delta shows that Global 2000 companies are taking concrete steps to ensure that the company’s primary corporate domain is directing people to authoritative and correct content. Any company that conducts transactions or collects credential information via their website should seriously consider deploying DNSSEC.
Lame delegation drops incrementally, but still persists
Across the primary corporate websites of the Global 2000, lame delegation decreased to 13% from last year’s 14%—a minor difference. Easy to diagnose and quick to fix, lame delegation resolution delays are among the lowest hanging fruit to pick for improving DNS hygiene.
SPF and DMARC adoption both on the rise
Security is still top-of-mind for every company, and email is still one of the most common sources that cause cybersecurity incidents. Tools such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) both present protocols to authenticate emails and are designed to prevent forgery, fraud and spoofing. The 2023 GCD Index showed an increase in both SPF (86% to 87%) and DMARC (57% to 62%) across domains supporting primary corporate websites. These upticks are promising, illustrating that the largest organisations in the world are taking email authentication seriously and leveraging available tools to reduce risk.
SSL usage grows further
The 2023 GCD Index found an increase in SSL adoption for both the root (71% to 73%) and www (93% to 94%) for primary corporate websites across the Global 2000. However, it is curious that the root and www numbers differ by more than 20%—as best practices dictate that both the root and www versions should be configured similarly.
The top 2000 companies have weathered challenges in the past year, and the oncoming recession will require them to do more with less. The 2023 GCD Index showed incremental improvements in how these organisations were leveraging security safety nets like SPF, DMARC, DNSSEC and third-party DNS providers. The study also showed increased correction of domain hygiene issues like lame delegation. However, domain resolution continues to be well below optimal levels and registry locking has stagnated, so areas for further improvement still exist.
As the oncoming recession unfolds and budgets crunches become more severe, domain professionals may have to look for opportunities to pare back portfolios, including their defensive registrations. A relentless focus on efficiency, security and value will make their domain portfolios stronger when every domain is pulling its weight.
To request a copy of the 2023 GCD Index report, visit: GoDaddy Corporate Domains – 2023 GCD Index
Lauren Tracey is a Domain Advisory Manager for GoDaddy Corporate Domains. She has collaborated with some of the world’s most well-known brands to devise and implement domain name, as well as dotBrand, strategies and policies to streamline operations, mitigate risks and optimize portfolios. Lauren can be contacted at email@example.com.
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GoDaddy Corporate Domains, domain names, portfolio, COVID-19, TLDs, SSL, infringement, DNS