The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) has concluded a five-year extension to the public law contract it entered into with SWITCH in 2016 for management of the .ch internet domain (registry function). The new contract, signed on 10 December 2020, includes additional services to further strengthen the .ch domain’s security and intensify the fight against cybercrime. It will enter into force on 1 January 2022 for a period of five years.
With the five-year extension of the existing contract – scheduled to expire on 31 December 2021 – SWITCH has been tasked with managing the national database of .ch domain names and providing an electronic link to the global Domain Name System (DNS) until the end of 2026.
OFCOM has introduced new requirements to SWITCH’s specifications to further strengthen the security of .ch domain names and intensify the fight against cybercrime.
OFCOM is particularly keen to speed up the adoption and implementation of technical security standards by registrars and hosting providers. Switzerland is at the bottom end of the ranking in this area (e.g. barely 6% of registered .ch domain names meet the DNSSEC standard). To improve this situation, OFCOM favours implementation of a catalogue of measures by SWITCH, including financial incentives, to encourage registrars and hosting providers to offer sufficient security guarantees.
The SWITCH registry and the authorities will also work more closely together to improve the fight against cybercrime – including measures designed to ensure that in the event of suspected fraudulent intent, newly registered domain names can be used only after an identity check. Additionally, more preventive action will be taken to increase internet users’ awareness of security. SWITCH will also be responsible for maintaining the DNS infrastructure of the .ch domain at a high level of security, in particular by means of encrypted DNS query processes and transaction techniques.
Address resources, such as telephone numbers or web addresses, are important resources for Switzerland. The Telecommunications Act tasks OFCOM with managing these services, while also permitting the possibility of outsourcing this task to third parties in specific cases. SWITCH has managed the .ch domain (registry function) on the Swiss Confederation’s behalf since 2003.
Following a public invitation to tender in 2016, SWITCH was awarded the mandate for an initial period of five years (2017-2021), with the option of a single extension for a further five years. At the time, it was particularly successful in fighting cybercrime, making the .ch domain one of the most secure in Europe. Its registry function does not allow it to sell .ch web addresses to end users itself.