Major hosting companies continue to slash prices for hosting accounts and domain names in an effort to attract small businesses launching new web sites.
1&1, the world's largest hosting company, has introduced Beginner Accounts for both Linux and Microsoft servers. The accounts are just $2.99 a month, and include a domain name, 1 gigabyte of web space, 2 gigabytes of email storage, 50 gigabytes of monthly transfer, 150 email accounts and a MySQL database. The account specs, which would have seemed extraordinary several years ago, are consistent with an industry trend in which providers compete on disk space and bandwidth, rather than price. By offering features consistent with a standard plan in an economy offering, 1&1 seems intent on doing both.
The past two months have been an extraordinary time for the InterCosmos Group, which operates a network of Internet companies in New Orleans. The company's colocation and hosting unit, Zipa, gained 990,000 hostnames between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15, capping a year of strong hostname growth. The huge gain appears to have come almost entirely from the registration of new domains that are now parked at Zipa, which added just 15,000 active sites on the month.
The company gained widespread notice during Hurricane Katrina, when its staff labored to keep its operations online as the city was battered and flooded. InterCosmos' domain registrar business, DirectNIC, is housed on the 10th and 11th floors of a 27-floor office tower near Lafayette Square, a portion of New Orleans that escaped the worst of the flooding. Employees live-blogged their efforts and posted photos of the storm's impact on the DirectNIC facility. An on-site webcam broadcast video of looting on surrounding streets.
The business of advertising on parked domains is facing a shakeout that could dampen speculation in the domain name market. The domain advertising business, which is based on pay-per-click advertising from Google and Yahoo, has seen explosive growth this year. This week one of the industry's largest players, DomainSponsor, announced that it was shifting its payment model to combine pay-per-click and pay-per-sale ads.
The shift is driven by advertiser concerns about low conversion rates on click-throughs from parked domains. While the new model offers higher payouts for domains that generate sales, it will also mean smaller checks for domains that produce click-throughs but no sales. It also reduces the incentive for click fraud, which is believed to inflate the cost of campaigns in some advertising niches.
Industry observers say other domain parking services may soon follow DomainSponsor's lead. "Is this a sign of things to come? Probably," notes Leonard Holmes of Domain Parking News. "Some of the other major players have beta projects that seem to offer the same promise - a bonus for higher 'traffic quality.' "
A phishing attack led the Bank of New Zealand to take its online banking web site offline Thursday to prevent scammers from draining customer accounts. The bank said that although there had been no threat to its Internet infrastructure, the site was shut for eight hours to protect customers who shared their banking logins with a spoof web site operated by a phishing crew. The BNZ web site came back online Thursday evening with "restricted functionality," and returned to full service on Friday, bank spokesman told the National Business Review.
Bank of New Zealand said it will continue to closely monitor Internet banking transactions, and has revised daily transaction limits for all customers. The bank also suspended Internet banking access for customers who enteered their details at the fake site.
Internet backbone provider Level 3 Communications reported "wide spread network instability" overnight, causing connectivity problems for many ISPs and hosting companies that rely on Level 3 for high-speed Internet access. The outage lasted several hours before service was restored. A discussion on the North American Network Operators Group mailing list offers additional details on the outage.
Level 3 is one of the largest providers of wholesale dial-up service to ISPs in North America and also connects millions of broadband subscribers to the Internet through its cable and DSL partners.
The explosion of spam blogs on Google's Blogspot hosting service is drawing a chorus of condemnation from prominent bloggers, and has led at least one blog search service to stop indexing posts on Blogspot. The growth of spam blogs has accelerated in recent months, fueled by automated tools that can create blogs on Blogspot and some similar services and populate them with keyword-optimized posts and Google AdSense advertisements.
About 39,000 fake blogs have been created on the web in the past two weeks, according to an analysis by Technorati, or about 4.6 percent of the 805,000 new weblogs created in that period. FightSplog, which has been monitoring new blogs at Blogspot, recently documented 2,763 porn splogs created by a single "splogger." Blogspot-based spam blogs recently began featuring names of prominent bloggers in posts, boosting the splogs' visibility in searches at web-based RSS aggregators like Feedster, PubSub and Bloglines.
The move prompted IceRocket to stop indexing new posts from Blogspot.com, according to a blunt post from Mark Cuban, a major investor in IceRocket. Cuban says Blogspot indexing will resume once filters are adjusted, but warned Google to fix the problem or face a permanent ban. Bloggers are also focusing their fire on Google, which has stepped up its splog-squashing efforts in recent weeks but still can't keep pace with the automated instasplogs. "If your motto truly is to do no evil, then you need to start putting some resources behind an effort to curb this train wreck," LockerGnome's Chris Pirillo advised Google.