.рф to join .كوم and .山羊 as the web moves away from .com

Website addresses will soon be available in the Cyrillic alphabet, after ICANN, the organisation responsible for assigning domain names, agreed in Seoul, Korea, on domain name extensions in non latin alphabets.

The announcement will mean that instead of using the extension .ru individuals and organisations will soon be able to choose .рф – short for Russian Federation in Cyrillic.

The era of an internet solely defined by latin letters is coming to an end. Russian will join Chinese, Korean, Arabic and Hindi amongst the languages freed from the hold of the latin alphabet after the ICANN decision.

Soon, browsing the internet you might see this 自行车骨.山羊 or even .كوم in the address bar with the new domain extensions coming in 2010.

But a warning to multi-lingual cyber squatters, priority will be given to the holders of brand names. So even if you can spell Helenic Bottling company in Greek or Surgutneftegas in Russian and are first to register, you won't be able to hold anyone to ransom. Sergey Vorobiyov Senior PR Manager at Ru center says there will be demand for the Cyrillic extensions from day 1.

“The market in Russia for non latin domain names is around 500 000 in the first year. There will be prior period of registration for trade mark owners and will start on November 25.”

New opportunities for business on the internet also provide new possibilities for virus writers and so called fishing sites – using names very similar to the original names. And, if it's a bank's website – it makes the difference between being secure and having your accounts cleaned out. Andrey Yarnikh – Head of the Internet Department, at Kaspersky Lab, says keeping the internet free from corruption could become much harder

“This new development narrows down the internet to Cyrillic users, the second effect will be on stopping virus writers and phishing. They will be harder to fight when they write in Russian or even in a mix of languages.”

Surveys show internet users are twice as likely to click on a company's website if its address is written in their language.

However experts say that it's just another wave in the evolution of the net. First it was global, with most people forced to pay homage to the English language, now its about to go local allowing many countries to assert their identity on the world wide web for the first time in their own language.