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DNS Attack Factsheet 1.1

Download the DNS attack factsheet 1.1 here [PDF, 289K].

ICANN has today released a factsheet concerning the recent attack on the root server system on 6 February 2007. The factsheet is intended to provide an explanation of the attack for a non-technical audience in the hope of enlarging public understanding surrounding this and related issues.

Aside from covering the attack itself and the engineers' response to it, the factsheet also briefly reviews the root server system, the domain name system, Anycast technology, and what can be done in order to deal with such attacks in future.

It is hoped that the factsheet will be the first in a series, with ICANN's general manager of public participation, Kieren McCarthy, acting as series editor. Future factsheets hope to follow a similar approach of providing clear and topical non-technical information about various aspects of the Internet in which ICANN is involved.

We welcome whatever feedback the community may have, plus suggestions for future factsheets. Please post any comments you have on the related blog post. This factsheet is released under a Creative Commons licence.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."