NZ Fry Up: Resolving conflicted .nz domain names; Cybercrime in the year of the pandemic; HP wants to go direct to consumer

New Zealand IT, tech, and telco news and views from our editor in Auckland.

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Resolving conflicted .nz domain names

There are about 2,000 conflicted .nz domain names, so the organisation that governs them—the Domain Name Commission (DNC), on behalf of InternetNZ—is looking to an Australia-based online dispute resolution platform called Immediation to help sort them out.

The best way to describe a conflicted domain name is to give an example. So, let’s say someone wants to nab ‘anyname.nz’. One registrant may hold anyname.co.nz, while others may hold anyname.org.nz or anyname.school.nz. If one of these registrants wants to get the shorter version (anyname.nz), they need to go through the Conflicted Name Process. Conflicted names may not be registered until all those with rights have agreed on who should be able to register that shorter domain name.

DNC deals with on average about 24 domain name disputes a year, and in the previous financial year helped resolve 1,400 consumer enquiries. Immediation will provide all .nz domain name users with a secure online space to resolve disputes.

Immediation provides virtual courtroom and mediation technology, and as part of its offering licenses a product by Smartsettles that uses patented algorithms to solve complex problems. Immediation recently launched a Sports and Recreation Complaints and Mediation Service that is authorised by Sport New Zealand.

The entire .nz is in for an overhaul. Last year, a panel headed by former Consumer NZ CEO Sue Chetwin made several recommendations on policies that govern the .nz domain. InternetNZ has subsequently rewritten the rules and policies to reflect the panel’s thinking and is running a public consultation until 2 April 2021 on the new draft policies. 

In total there are 723,656 domain names, with the median retail price per year ranging from the cheapest at $39 for .nz to the most expensive at $62.40 for .maori.nz.

Cybercrime in the year of the pandemic

This week marks a year since COVID-19 sent the country into its first, harshest lockdown—the dreaded Level 4. At the time CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) NZ warned of an increase in phishing, fraud, and malware as people rapidly moved to working from home. Seems they were right to.

The CERT NZ annual summary released today shows it received 7,809 incident reports in 2020, a 65% increase on 2019. The top three cybercrimes were phishing at 3,410 reports (up 76% on 2019), scam and fraud reports at 1,910 (up 11%), and  malware reports at 1,560 (up 1,008%).

CERT says 14% of all reports had some form of financial loss, and in total $16.9 million was lost to cybercrime in 2020. Scams and frauds were the costliest, accounting for $12 million, or 69% of overall financial loss.

While all forms of cybercrime raged during the worst of COVID-19 in New Zealand, it appears the volume eased off towards the end of 2020. In the Q4 report accompanying the 2020 summary, CERT notes that there was a “minor decrease across the board”, although there is no room for complacency, it warns. “Although Q4 shows a decrease in cybersecurity incidents from Q3, the numbers of incidents reported in Q4 2020 are significantly higher than the same time period of the previous year.”

HP wants to go direct to consumer

Cybercriminals weren’t the only ones to profit in 2020. PC manufacturers saw a boom in sales, with IDC noting growth of 12.3% compared to the previous year. HP took the top sales spot, and now it seems they want to go direct to consumer via an online distributor. This would mean customers could buy direct online, rather than go via the likes of Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman.

The company has applied to the Commerce Commission for authorisation to engage in resale price maintenance (RPM), which means it could set the marketing strategy, branding, and most significantly the price a third-party online distributor can charge. The RPM would only apply to the online store or future HP online marketplace stores.

In documents to the commission, HP says it wants direct access to the country’s burgeoning ecommerce market and to expand further into the South Pacific region. “The $4 billion e-commerce market in NZ is an established and sophisticated market, experiencing accelerating growth as businesses seek to address the needs of an increasingly large e-commerce consumer demographic,” it said.

Previous forays into online sales via a third party had seen HP unable to “own” the customer experience, which is why it wants clearance to set the rules when it returns to e-commerce.

So why doesn’t the company simply cut out the third party? Apparently, because global HP HQ isn’t quite ready: “HP would need to wait for a number of years for changes to its company strategy to launch a new e-commerce platform that is integrated into HP’s ERP system.”

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