Skip to main content

ICANN Calls for Full DNSSEC Deployment, Promotes Community Collaboration to Protect the Internet

LOS ANGELES – 22 February 2019 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) believes that there is an ongoing and significant risk to key parts of the Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure.

In the context of increasing reports of malicious activity targeting the DNS infrastructure, ICANN is calling for full deployment of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) across all unsecured domain names. The organization also reaffirms its commitment to engage in collaborative efforts to ensure the security, stability and resiliency of the Internet’s global identifier systems.

As one of many entities engaged in the decentralized management of the Internet, ICANN is specifically responsible for coordinating the top-most level of the DNS to ensure its stable and secure operation and universal resolvability.

On 15 February 2019, in response to reports of attacks against key parts of the DNS infrastructure, ICANN offered a checklist of recommended security precautions for members of the domain name industry, registries, registrars, resellers, and related others, to proactively take to protect their systems, their customers’ systems and information reachable via the DNS.

Public reports indicate that there is a pattern of multifaceted attacks utilizing different methodologies. Some of the attacks target the DNS, in which unauthorized changes to the delegation structure of domain names are made, replacing the addresses of intended servers with addresses of machines controlled by the attackers. This particular type of attack, which targets the DNS, only works when DNSSEC is not in use. DNSSEC is a technology developed to protect against such changes by digitally 'signing' data to assure its validity. Although DNSSEC cannot solve all forms of attack against the DNS, when it is used, unauthorized modification to DNS information can be detected, and users are blocked from being misdirected.

ICANN has long recognized the importance of DNSSEC and is calling for full deployment of the technology across all domains. Although this will not solve the security problems of the Internet, it aims to assure that Internet users reach their desired online destination by helping to prevent so-called “man in the middle” attacks where a user is unknowingly re-directed to a potentially malicious site. DNSSEC complements other technologies, such as Transport Layer Security (most typically used in HTTPS) that protect the end user/domain communication.

As the coordinator of the top-most level of the DNS, ICANN is in the position to help mitigate and detect DNS-related risks, and to facilitate key discussions together with its partners. The organization believes that all members of the domain name system ecosystem must work together to produce better tools and policies to secure the DNS and other critical operations of the Internet. To facilitate these efforts, ICANN is planning an event for the Internet community to address DNS protection: The first is an open session during the upcoming ICANN64 public meeting on 9-14 March 2019, in Kobe, Japan.

Some Frequently Asked Questions are posted here.

As we learn more information, updates may be provided. For information about ICANN64, visit https://meetings.icann.org/kobe64.

About ICANN

ICANN's mission is to help ensure a stable, secure, and unified global Internet. To reach another person on the Internet, you need to type an address – a name or a number – into your computer or other device. That address must be unique so computers know where to find each other. ICANN helps coordinate and support these unique identifiers across the world. ICANN was formed in 1998 as a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with a community of participants from all over the world.


More Announcements
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."