Washington, May 17 : Experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed an algorithm that can check whether a proposed domain, the last part of an Internet address like .com, is confusingly similar to existing ones by looking for visual likenesses in its appearance.
This work attains significance as having visually distinct top-level domain names may help avoid confusion in navigating the ever-expanding Internet and combat fraud, by reducing the potential to create malicious look-alikes-.C0M with a zero instead of .COM, for instance.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is planning to launch the process for proposing a new round of "generic" top-level domains (gTLDs)- strings like .net, .gov and .org meant to indicate organizations or interests-later this year.
Paul E. Black of NIST was among various algorithm developers who were engaged by ICANN to "provide an open, objective, and predictable mechanism for assessing the degree of visual confusion" in gTLDs.
His team's algorithm compares a proposed gTLD with other TLDs to generate a score based on their visual similarities: the domain .C0M, for instance, scores an 88 per cent visual similarity with the familiar .COM.
Such scores might be useful in determining whether the newly proposed domain name looks too much like existing ones.
ICANN also has plans to enhance the algorithm so that it may also be used to check for visual confusion between existing domains and future planned Internet top-level domain names in scripts such as Cyrillic.