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New gTLD Applicant and GDD Portal Update

30 April 2015 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced that the first phase of its investigation into a data exposure issue in the New gTLD Applicant and GDD (Global Domains Division) portals has concluded. These portals contain information from applicants to ICANN's New gTLD Program and new gTLD registry operators. No other systems were affected.

Two consulting firms reviewed and analyzed all log data going back to the activation of the New gTLD Applicant portal on 17 April 2013 and the activation of the GDD portal on 17 March 2014. The results of the investigation currently indicate that the portal users were able to view data that was not their own. Based on the investigation to date, the unauthorized access resulted from advanced searches conducted using the login credentials of 19 users, which exposed 330 advanced search result records, pertaining to 96 applicants and 21 registry operators. These records may have included attachment(s). These advanced searches occurred during 36 user sessions out of a total of nearly 595,000 user sessions since April 2013. The parties whose data was viewed will be informed shortly. Information will include what portion of their data was seen and when it was seen.

ICANN is contacting the user or users who appear to have viewed information that was not their own and requiring that they provide an explanation of their activity. We are also asking them to certify that they will delete or destroy all information obtained and to certify that they have not and will not use the data or convey it to any third party.

"We realize that any compromise of our users' data is unacceptable and take this situation, as well as user trust, very seriously," said ICANN's Chief Information and Innovation Officer, Ashwin Rangan. "Since I joined ICANN last year, we have increased our focus on quickly hardening our digital services. We have already taken several steps to accomplish this objective and guard ICANN's digital assets against escalating cyber threats, however there is more to do. We deeply regret this incident and pledge to accelerate our efforts to harden all of our digital services, many of which have been in service for as long as 15 years."

In mid-year 2014, ICANN engaged a third-party expert to assess its information technologies portfolio of assets. ICANN adopted the CSC (formerly SANS Institute) 20-factors framework to assess its defenses. Following the assessment ICANN launched a comprehensive, multi-year program and started to immediately address factors that deserve urgent attention. Additional information on this program will be announced in the next few weeks.

Rangan noted, "We are approaching these improvements in a careful sequence, so that service delivery to our community is not disrupted while systems are being hardened."

ICANN is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the access to this information and has not made a final determination regarding the nature of the access. By 27 May 2015 ICANN intends to disclose to affected users the identity of any user(s) that viewed their information without authorization.

About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet you have to type an address into your computer - a name or a number. That address has to be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN coordinates these unique identifiers across the world. Without that coordination we wouldn't have one global Internet. ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet's unique identifiers. ICANN doesn't control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn't deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet's naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet. For more information please visit: www.icann.org


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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."