In a similar sign of the Internet's robustness, a Seattle-based research firm concluded that over the past five years there has been an 1,800 percent increase in the amount of porn pages available online, equalling an estimated 260 million pages and growing.
In 1998, a similar study on the adult entertainment industry found that only 14 million sites were officially dedicated to pornographic content.
VeriSign's year-long study is based on data from the domain-name service (DNS) and was issued today as the first edition of its 'Internet Security Intelligence Briefing.'
VeriSign maintains the registry database for the .com and .net top-level domains. Its subsidiary, Network Solutions, functions as the registrar for those TLDs.
The study shows that despite perceptions that Internet activity has slowed since the "dot-bomb" economic collapse of 2000, overall Internet usage has increased at consistent rates.
VeriSign attributes this data to a sharp increase in DNS resolutions, which grew by an average of 51 percent between August 2002 and August 2003. DNS resolutions for email grew by 245 percent in the same time period, a growth surge that VeriSign believes might be related to the uptick in bulk email or spam that users receive on a daily basis.
VeriSign currently processes over 10 billion DNS queries a day on average, the company said.
Additionally, online payment transactions grew by 17 percent on average between the second quarter of 2002 and the second quarter of 2003.
According to the company, along with this encouraging growth, there has been a significant increase in "security incidents," which VeriSign says has increased by 99 percent between May and August of 2003.
Data from VeriSign's fraud prevention systems indicate that 62 percent of ecommerce transactions in the U.S. were potential fraud attempts, and more than 52 percent of fraud attempts against VeriSign merchants now originate from outside of the U.S.
According to Gary Kremen, founder and president of adult search site Sex.com, VeriSign's study is skewed, and that with its vast control over the Internet, the company could have, and should have, done a lot more to stop the increase in viruses and spam.
"It's a little bit like the pot calling the kettle black," Kremen told XBiz. "VeriSign has been adding to the instability of the Internet for a long time now. They have not taken concrete steps to stop some of the problems the Internet is facing, and instead they are focused on making money."
Kremen, who was in litigation with VeriSign's subsidiary Network Solutions for six years over the theft of his domain name Sex.com, told XBiz that he feels the Internet is in fine shape right now, although he has seen no dramatic shifts over the past six months.
"VeriSign could do a lot of things to help the equilibrium of the net, but they would rather put out ridiculous services like Site Finder and other stuff that has nothing to do with the well-being of the Internet," Kremen said. "There are certainly more viruses and spam out there, but people are better protected. It's like two armies fighting, they both have better arms than the other."