The domain name system of the World Wide Web enables sites to be accessed by a meaningful address rather than their IP address. A standard IP address as of the time of publication is four numbers separated by dots. These are not catchy and do not help commercial websites establish themselves in Web surfers' memories. The domain name system is divided into top-level domains. The .cc ending on a Web address is one of these.
The last part of a Web address is called a top-level domain (TLD). The most well-known TLD is "com." This is one of a category of TLDs called generic top-level domains (gTLD). The ".cc" domain is in a different category of TLDs. These are country code top-level domains (ccTLD). The two letters of the country code are defined by the International Standards Organization. The CC country code is assigned to the Cocos Islands.
The Cocos Islands are also called the Keeling Islands. They are an Australian territory in the Pacific Ocean. There is no particular reason why a website should want to identify itself with the country. The Cocos Islands do not offer specific tax breaks for Internet businesses, and there is no requirement for a website carrying the ".cc" domain to actually be hosted on the islands.
The .cc domain is not as obscure as its home country. The territory signed over the administration of the domain to a U.S. company called eNIC, which is now a division of Verisign. The company marketed the domain heavily as an alternative to the .com domain. They partnered with Clear Channel Communications, which owns the largest radio network in the U.S. The abbreviation of Clear Channel to CC meant the domain appealed to the communication company, which promoted it heavily on its stations.
Web addresses ending in .cc are particularly popular with organisations and institutions that can by abbreviated to "CC," such as "cycling club" or "Christian church." If a .com domain is already taken, buyers are encouraged to register the same name but with the .cc domain instead. A similar strategy exists with .org and .net domains. This leads to confusion, however. A user might be led to a fake website, thinking it is dealing with a company's main website, when in fact they are dealing with an imitator. This encourages companies setting up a website to buy the .cc domain as well as the .com, .org and .net versions to protect themselves against spoofers.