Predrag Lešić, CEO, Domen d.o.o.

.me And Today’s Global Challenges

When we first launched .ME we knew it wasn’t only an opportunity to develop a healthy business, but also a platform to raise awareness in Montenegro about the benefits of the digital world and equip people with the skills needed to successfully navigate that world. This has been an integral part of our company’s strategy and mission over the last decade

The domain management system has today become a critical infrastructure for every country, given that our everyday lives – both personal and professional – have become so connected to technology that communicates over Internet that it would be difficult to imagine to operate efficiently in the long term without using it.

Here are a few examples that we might not even be aware of. Medical equipment operates by exchanging data over internal networks and often also over Internet. Conversations with family and friends take place on a daily basis through applications that use the internet to transmit voices and messages 24 hours a day. E-commerce across all meridians of this planet allows us to launch the economy from any corner of that planet. In essence, all of these services are literally dependent on DNS servers and their ability to translate human needs into computer activities. It is because technological solutions have become part of our private and professional daily lives, and are based on the IP protocol, that the DNS system has become a critical element of infrastructure today.

How would you briefly present your operations in the period from 2008 to 2020?

– .ME domains began being freely registered in July 2008 and the extension was immediately recognised as being successful thanks to over 100,000 domains being registered in the first 48 hours. Apart from that, as the extension gained a good reputation and was promoted by renowned companies GoDaddy and Afilias, it became a favourite for building new ideas and new communities among major brands. Today we have almost a million domains and users from all countries, with more than 350 accredited partners – registrars.

Throughout the course of all these years, our users have created a network of successful portals and services, and thus demonstrated in the best way the successful use of domains, which we are very proud of.

Where are the dangers in your industry?

– The registry system can be compromised in several ways, but generally speaking, these threats can be classified as commercial – untrusted domain extension and technical – technically unavailable domain extension.

The commercial aspect is based on the trust we gain among end users that the extension a.) will not disappear from the market and b.) will not be used to spread spam – unwanted messages and online scams, to create phishing websites, to connect the extension with problematic content etc. What we have noticed is that low cost of new domain registrations increases the number of domains used for abuse such as spam and phishing which is why it is essential to find the right balance between the commercial need for growth reflected by the revenue and the number of abusive domains created when the price is low. This is why we have to monitor registrars and registrants and suspend domains if the sole intention of the domain registration is abuse.

The technical aspect is based on the availability of both the EPP system and the DNS system. The most serious are so-called DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service, which cause the collapse of the system that is under attack due to the query overload. Such problems are mainly solved by positioning the equipment on nodes with high bandwidth, while traffic is regulated in cooperation with partners whose networks are the channel for attacks. And these are ordinarily attacks that mostly cause big problems for small registry operators, but attacks on large systems aren’t isolated events either, example is attack on DYN DNS servers in 2016.

What are the benefits for Montenegro in this public-private partnership?

– Apart from the fact that Montenegro has gained extremely robust and secure infrastructure that the technical aspect of the business relies on, as well as renowned and globally recognised partners that form the basis of the commercial aspect of business, DOMEN DOO is registered in Montenegro and all business operations are conducted from Montenegro. Throughout all these years, the company has been a leader in the promotion of jobs of the future that are based on programming, and from day one it has had embedded into our genetic code to contribute to the development of the community and society in which it conducts its business operations.

The registry has to date collaborated with representatives of U.S. and German security agencies, the FBI, Europol and Eurojust, but also Microsoft and Facebook when we participated in several of the biggest anticybercrime operations.

The financial effect achieved during all these years is portrayed by the fact that 99% of the company’s revenue comes from the exports, that thirty million euros has been paid to the Government of Montenegro in accordance with the agreement on the management of the .ME extension, that over five million euros has been paid through various types of taxes and contributions, and that over a million euros has been invested in Montenegrin society through various corporate social responsibility activities and contributions, and that over a million euros has been invested in Montenegrin society through various corporate social responsibility activities.

What is the philosophy of your CSR strategy?

– Our CSR strategy is based on three major pillars: educating young people in a way that teaches them how to code and inspires them to pursue a career in tech; introducing the benefits of the digital world for Montenegrins, their businesses and everyday life; and sharing our experiences, contacts and knowhow to support our colleagues in the tech industry in Montenegro, as well as our friends and partners, in further developing their ideas.

We work directly with the start-up community, but also with investors and international organisations, to help build a healthy start-up ecosystem through improving legislation, encouraging foreign investments and providing advice and mentorship. Some of the brightest examples of the Montenegrin start-up community developed their ideas and connected with their investors through relationships that we helped them establish. Every time we see them go a step further, we feel like our mission in Montenegro has grown stronger.

Where do you see the .ME domain in 2030?

– Provided the existing technological trends continue, the .ME domain will be an even more important resource than it is today. The Company that manages this resource will have proportionately greater responsibility which will make commercial and technical challenges more complex. It is crucial to find the best possible response to these challenges. Having in mind that we proved to be capable of rising to all kinds of challenges and that we earned the trust of the customers and the society alike by operating the product responsibly, I believe that we have strong foundations for the future.

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