On 20 May, Switzerland’s ccTLD celebrated 30 years since .ch was entered into the Domain Name System (DNS), and the start of the internet in Switzerland. And later this year, on 22 October, the SWITCH Foundation will celebrate its 30th birthday.
In 30 years there have been a lot of changes and accomplishments, not just for .ch and SWITCH, but the internet globally. Today the DNS is an integral part of our lives with many countries, including Switzerland, recognising their ccTLD as a critical piece of infrastructure.
Hence that .ch is Europe’s safest top level domain, from those with open registration policies, is something the registry wants to celebrate as well. One of the key reasons .ch is recognised as being so safe has been the establishment of SWITCH-CERT over 20 years ago, Switzerland’s first computer emergency response team. CERTs specialise in identifying abuse and attacks and fixing security incidents.
SWITCH claims no other ccTLD has security experts that take such a proactive and systematic approach to combating malware and phishing. In 2016 alone, SWITCH-CERT’s 14 experts removed malware and phishing from .ch websites in 1,900 cases in conjunction with authorities such as the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) and the Swiss Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) as well as registrars, hosting providers and the website owners affected. This was done within 24 hours in 70% of cases. SWITCH-CERT provides those affected with precise instructions, ensuring that problems are solved much more quickly. Internet users are thus actively guarded against malware infections and attempted fraud. This protection is making .ch an increasingly unattractive target for cybercriminals compared with other top level domains.
All registries of TLDs, both generic and country code, take security seriously and have their own ways of dealing with it. But SWITCH’s commitment to security was one of the key reasons it won a competitive tender in 2016 to continue operating .ch for a further 5 years. Announcing that SWITCH had won the tender, OFCOM (BAKOM in German) noted how important security was and that SWITCH had the best security concept.
OFCOM noted SWITCH’s tender stood out with a combination of an excellent concept for combating cybercrime and a good price/performance ratio. Other criteria that were part of the tender process were experience, community, economic independence and DNSSEC.