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February 21, 2020

UK’s Nominet Makes Its First Ever Acquisition, Moves to Reinforce Registry Operations

"We have big ambitions..."

By CBR Staff Writer

Nominet, the British company that runs a protective DNS service as part of the UK Government’s “Active Cyber Defence” programme has made its first acquisition, picking up the US’s CyGlass for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is an unusual step out into the market for the privately held company, founded in 1996, which operates the biggest domain name registry in the UK, and is responsible for the .uk, .cymru, and .wales top-level domains.

Boston-based CyGlass offers advanced threat detection built primarily for SMEs. CyGlass will be brought into Nominet’s reseller partner program “Velocity”, the two said, but will continue to run as a separate business.

(CyGlass identifies assets, asset groups, and subnets on a network. It then ingest real-time network traffic, and uses an “ensemble of algorithms” to learn network patterns and establish a baseline of normal behavior.)

The acquisition comes amid pressure on Nominet to diversify its business model. As CEO Russell Haworth told a London Tech Week audience last year: “There are many more domains like .london in circulation now, with such alternatives to .uk increasing from just 11 a few years ago to more than 300, putting Nominet at even greater risk of being a ‘one trick pony’”.

Nominet Pledges Registry Security Upgrade

Nominet said it would also be opening a £4 million programme to upgrade security and services for its registry operations.

The investment includes using AI to help reduce phishing in the .UK namespace, and upgrades to customer-facing systems, such as online services and registrar resources, Nominet said, adding that it is “initiating dialogue with registrars, the users of its systems and services, to help ensure the programme is shaped to address key priorities.”

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Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Solutions, said: “We want to be the best registry in the world, and that means investing in the evolution of our core systems. We’ve scoped out the priorities as we see them, with security and online services being at the top of our list, but we don’t want to proceed in isolation.  We will be involving the users of our systems to fine tune our plans.”

Nominet has a growing global cyber security business, focused on network detection and response, with its platform NTX now deployed by Governments and enterprises around the world.  The CyGlass acquisition is Nominet’s first, but is unlikely to be its last: the company says it is looking to broaden its offer in cyber security, through organic growth and acquisitions.

Russell Haworth, Nominet CEO, said: “We have big ambitions in cybersecurity. Buying CyGlass allows us to build on the progress we’ve made building a network detection and response capability to protect critical networks.

See also: DNS Hijacking: .UK Domain is Safe Says Nominet, Citing Layered Security


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