Internet Access and Corporate Knowledge Lockdown

What sort of internet access will you have in the future? For some people in the world, the big question is whether they will have any access at all. Or if they do, will they be able to search for any information they want, or will their government watch all their network services? Meanwhile, here at home, while outright censorship is not as big an issue, there are questions about web content, who owns it, and who will be allowed to view it. Restrictions are growing, both at home and abroad, and that worries a lot of people.

Many corporations are urging new laws that would cut off access to the web for ordinary users for a host of reasons, most serving those corporations themselves. One only has to look at a new British law imposed late in 2009 to understand the problem. Every internet service provider (ISP) is now virtually required, by law, to spy on customers and report any infringements, such as sharing a pirated file. And while some penalties include cutting off the web for an entire family if only one member transgresses, other penalties can simply be invented, at will, by the British Business Secretary. Who, incidentally, is unelected and cannot be kicked out of office.

Does that sort of thing sound too much like Orwell’s “1984” territory? Similar laws about internet access, digital copyright and so on could be closer to implementation in this country than you think. International negotiations for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have been occurring for some time, and the penalties could be just as unreasonable as in the recent British law. Your ISP may be forced to betray your privacy to the government, and your access to internet and video services could be lost permanently if you or a family member make a couple of wrong moves. Even if you didn’t know that’s what they were.

The issues in more oppressive countries might deal with free speech on the web, but internet access in the more “free” countries might end up looking much the same. What is the ultimate difference, really, if you have little access to information because the government censors it, or you have little access because all internet content is finally owned by corporations, and you can’t pay for more than a small amount of it? Either way, your ability to access the knowledge via the web is cut off.

The Internet Business Model Differences

The internet business model has distinct similarities and distinct differences from the non-digital business model. Nearly any non-digital business model can be translated to an internet business model.

An auction business model is translated to online auctions in the form of eBay and other less well-known sites. The same kinds of strategies apply with online auctions as in non-digital auctions, the auctioneers make a commission from the products sold and the transactions are taken care of by the auctioneers as well.

Another model taken from a non-digital source is multi-level marketing models, better known as pyramid schemes. In this model, a hierarchy is formed when salespersons bring new salespersons under them in the business.

Someone participating in a multi-level marketing model makes money from those below them in the hierarchy for a predetermined number of levels as well as their own efforts. Unfortunately, the downfall to multi-level marketing models is that they are commonly associated with internet scams where you are required to pay so much a month to receive the services offered by the company in question.

Multi-level marketing models sell products to make the commission to keep the business running. Unfortunately, the market has been flooded with scams that there is a lot of skepticism of this kind of internet business model.

The franchise style of non-digital models have translated to affiliate marketing sites where a company hires people to sell their products for them using a proven effective model. So as McDonald’s franchises will give new restaurants the business model to follow, an online business will provide their new franchisees the means to succeed by following a simple system.

A monopolistic internet business model can be seen with a provider like Amazon who has basically dominated the internet book selling business. The great and, in cases of competition, unfortunate thing about internet marketing is there are no international laws against internet monopolies. The consumers who will avoid a company because they seem more like a monopoly and want to avoid ‘feeding the machine’ so to speak largely regulate monopolies.

A huge internet business model emerging is the professional open-source model. This model offers a free service, such as a Spyware Bot that works remarkably well for free. Then the company who creates the Spyware Bot also offers an even better product for a marginal fee depending on the degree of protection a user might need.

This type of model can be likened to getting free samples at a grocery store then going back and buying the product because it works well. A downfall of the open-source model is that some of the programs offered in this way allow the user to do illegal things with the programs, such as illegal downloading of music and/or movies. The open-source community on the internet is huge and there is still room for growth by anyone who is in favor of free licensing of products and the free exchange of any and all information.

Where Can I Find Forensic Clues About Internet Domain Name Registrants?

The following explains some of the terms used in Internet forensics, and suggests where relevant clues about a domain name may be hiding:

“IP Address”

Each and every computer on the Internet has a unique address – just like a telephone number or street address – which is a rather long and complicated string of numbers. It is called its “IP address” (IP stands for “Internet Protocol”). IP Addresses are hard to remember, so the Domain Name System makes using the Internet far easier for humans by allowing words in the form of a “domain name” to be used instead of the arcane, numerical IP address. So instead of typing, you can just type that IP address’ domain name, and you would then be directed to the website that you are seeking connected to that domain name.

It is possible to “geolocate” an IP address by using a variety of free services available on the Internet. Geolocation is the practice of determining the physical, real world location of a person or computer using digital information processed and collected on the Internet.

Geolocation can offer the city, ZIP code or region from which a person is or has connected to the World Wide Web by using their device’s IP Address, or that of a nearby wireless access points, such as those offered by coffeeshops or internet cafes.

Determining the country of an Internet user based on his or her IP address is relatively simple and accurate (95%-99% percent) because a country is required information when an IP range is allocated and IP registrars supply that information.

Determining the specific physical location of an IP Address down to a city or ZIP code, however, is a little more difficult and slightly less accurate because there is no official source for the information. Further, users sometimes share IP addresses and Internet service providers often base IP addresses.

Even when not accurate, though, geolocation can place users in a bordering or nearby city, which may be good enough for the investigation.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has the ultimate responsibility for Internet Protocol address space allocation, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions. As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting healthy and lawful competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policies to foster these goals.


Registrants are individuals or entities who register unique domain names through Internet Registrars. The Registrant is required to enter a registration contract with his Registrar, which sets forth the terms under which the registration is accepted and will be maintained. The Registrant’s data is ultimately recorded in a number of locations: with the Registry, the Registrar, and, if applicable, with his webhosting provider.


Domain names are registered by individual Registrants through many different companies known as Internet “Registrars.” GoDaddy, for example, is a major ICANN-accredited Registrar. There are currently approximately 430 accredited Internet Registrars. A complete listing of accredited Registrars is in the ICANN Accredited Registrar Directory. A Registrar asks individuals, or “Registrants”, various contact and technical information that makes up the official registration record. The Registrar maintains detailed records of the Registrant’s contact information and submits the information to a central directory known as the “Registry.” The Registry provides other computers on the Internet the information necessary to send the Registrant e-mail or to find the Registrant’s Website on the Internet.


The Registry is the authoritative, master database of all domain names registered in each Top Level Domain. The Registry operator keeps the master database and also generates the “Zone File” which allows computers to route Internet traffic to and from Top Level Domains (TLD’s) anywhere in the world. Internet users don’t interact directly with the Registry; users can register names in TLDs by using an ICANN-Accredited Registrar (see above). Two of the largest Registries are Verisign (with authority TLDs, among others), and the Public Interest Registry (“PIR”)(with authority TLD’s).

Top Level Domain (TLD)

Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the names at the top of the DNS naming hierarchy. They appear in domain names as the string of letters following the last (rightmost) “.”, such as “net” in “”. The administrator for a TLD controls what second-level names are recognized in that TLD. The administrators of the “root domain” or “Root Zone” control what TLDs are recognized by the DNS. Generally speaking, two types of TLDs exist: generic TLDs (such,.net,.edu) and country code TLDs (such,.de,


All domain name Registries operate a “Whois” server for the purpose of providing information about all the Internet domain names registered with them. In a Shared Registry System, where most information about a domain name is held by separate individual Registrars, the Registry’s Whois server provides a referral to the Registrars own Whois server, which provides more complete information about the domain name. The Whois service contains Registrant, administrative, billing and technical contact information provided by Registrars for domain name registrations.

By collecting and analyzing the Whois data, the Registry data, the Registrar data, and other bits and pieces of data about any websites associated with the domain name(s) you are interested in, a forensic investigator can often reconstruct a Registrant’s identity, location and other contact information (e-mail, etc.).