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Expedited Registry Security Request Process Posted

1 October 2009

(Updated on 8 October to extend public comment period to 16 November)

Introduction

The Expedited Registry Security Request (ERSR) is the result of a collaborative effort between ICANN and gTLD registries to develop a process for quick action in cases where gTLD registries:

  • inform ICANN of a present or imminent security incident to their TLD and/or the DNS and
  • request a contractual waiver for actions they might take or have taken to mitigate or eliminate the incident.

A contractual waiver is an exemption from compliance with a specific provision of the Registry Agreement for the time period necessary to respond to the Incident.

The ERSR web-based submission procedure is now available and can be accessed at http://www.icann.org/en/registries/ersr/. This new process is to be employed by gTLD registries exclusively for incidents that require immediate action by the registry in order to avoid deleterious effects to DNS stability or security. This process is not intended to replace requests that should be made through the Registry Services Evaluation Process (RSEP).

For the sake of DNS stability, this process is going into effect immediately. ICANN welcomes comments on it in order to improve its effectiveness and to ensure sufficient safeguards are in place. Comments should be made to ersr@icann.org and can be seen at http://forum.icann.org/lists/ersr/. The comment period will close on 1 November 2009 (extended to 16 November 2009).

Background

In late 2008, Internet security researchers, operating system and antivirus software vendors discovered the Conficker worm. Further, it was understood that the worm could infect millions of computers by using tens of thousands of domain names that would be auto-generated by the Conficker infection during a period of several months. The operational response to containing Conficker was for registries to preemptively block or register the domains that had been identified as targets of the worm.

The response to Conficker however posed a unique contractual issue for ICANN and gTLD registries as registries are restricted in their ability to register names to themselves other than through an ICANN-accredited registrar. Additionally, a waiver of ICANN fees was appropriate. Given the severity of the Conficker threat, ICANN provided verbal approval to registries to facilitate the registrations of targeted domains and agreed to waive all fees associated with these transactions.

As a result of Conficker, ICANN and the gTLD registries worked to develop a process that would enable registries to share information and take action in urgent security situations – actions that might not be covered by their Registry Agreements. ICANN then developed a draft ERSR and conducted consultations on the process with gTLD registries, the gTLD Registry Constituency and ICANN-accredited registrars that had been involved in the early stages of the community response to Conficker. The product of this community effort is the Expedited Registry Security Request.