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Domain name sign-up made more secure

Network Solutions announced a more secure system for registering domain names.

Network Solutions, the company thatoversees the registration of Internet domain names, announced today a new, more secure system for providing and updating registration information over the Net.

The InterNIC registration process--which Network Solutions now runs on contract for the National Science Foundation--allows users to choose one of three security levels for domain name transactions.

The lowest level simply verifies a registrant's email address to make sure the information is coming from an appropriate source. The second assigns a password that is required each time the registration information is updated.

The most secure option uses encrypted key technology from Pretty Good Privacy. The user creates two "keys," one private and one public, that are registered with InterNIC. The process is much like opening a safety deposit box at a bank: To complete registration or update network addresses, you sign in with the secret key. InterNIC verifies the request by matching it with the registered key.

The new system is being implemented to make sure that no one of the 50,000 requests per month for domain names is made under false pretense. "It makes it easier for us to insure that an authorized party is making changes," said a company spokeswoman.

Separately, Network Solutions confirmed that plans are still on starting this Thursday to restrict access to sites that haven't paid their domain name fees. The company had said last week that roughly 25,000 sites would be cut off for delinquent payment, but as of this week nearly 15,000 accounts have responded to the threat and paid up.

Of the remaining 10,000 domain names, many are now defunct or were registered for speculative reasons, according to the company, and will eventually be cut off. Owners will have 60 days after this Thursday before service is completely terminated.