The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is pleased to announce that it will conduct its 44th key signing ceremony at 21:00 UTC on 16 February 2022. This important operational procedure helps secure the Domain Name System (DNS) against several security vulnerabilities. The DNS is a crucial piece of Internet infrastructure used by over 4.5 billion people every day.
The key signing ceremonies are a periodic ritual in which the cryptographic keys that protect the DNS are generated and used. During the event, a number of Trusted Community Representatives (TCRs), composed of security experts from all over the world, oversee the activation of the "root zone key signing key (KSK)," which requires their joint participation to unlock.
The DNS is the Internet's address book used daily by the global population of Internet users and is fundamental to making the Internet work as everyone expects. For most users, it helps them navigate the Internet more easily. Instead of typing the complicated numerical locations for every website or application, users can use intuitive identifiers like icann.org to navigate the Internet, to send emails, and more. ICANN's key signing ceremonies provide one of the critical safeguards for the core Internet infrastructure that keeps it safe and available to all.
The DNS would be less secure without the key ceremonies, a procedure where a unique pair of public and private root keys are generated. Not performing these signing events, or not performing them correctly, would make Internet users susceptible to various types of security attacks. In contrast with other like-minded security operations that are conducted under a cloak of secrecy, ICANN performs these ceremonies in a radically transparent way and encourages observation and knowledge sharing about how they work. ICANN believes that the system is trusted more when people can understand how the underlying technologies work and see how operations are conducted.
ICANN started publicizing these ceremonies in 2010. ICANN staff even invited volunteers to participate; a practice that continues to this day. As with previous ceremonies, people can watch the 44th key ceremony online via livestream. In this regard, ICANN has been a pioneer in the industry. Today, many other organizations have followed ICANN's lead in performing these types of activities in public. This is also part of ICANN's mission to be open and transparent about its processes, an important part of its role in securing the DNS and making it available to us all.
The upcoming ceremony will be held in a modified fashion due to mitigations in place relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on these mitigation efforts, which have been in place since 2020, please read this blog.
Information about the key ceremony and how you may join ICANN at the event virtually is available at https://www.iana.org/dnssec/ceremonies/44.