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Background on Fast Flux Hosting

The ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) completed a study of fast flux hosting in March 2008. Because fast flux hosting involves many different players — the cybercriminals and their victims, Internet service providers, companies that provide web hosting services, and DNS registries and registrars — there are many potential approaches to mitigation. Most of these will require the cooperation of a variety of actors, and some will be outside of ICANN's scope.

On 26 March 2008, Staff posted an Issues Report on fast flux hosting, as directed by the GNSO Council. In the Report, Staff recommends that the GNSO sponsor additional fact-finding and research to develop best practices concerning fast flux hosting. Staff also notes that it may be appropriate for the ccNSO to participate in such an activity.

At its 8 May 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council formally launched a policy development process (PDP), rejected a task force approach and called for creation of a Working Group on fast flux. Subsequently, at its 29 May 2008 meeting, the GNSO Council approved a Working Group charter to consider the following questions:

  • Who benefits from fast flux, and who is harmed?
  • Who would benefit from cessation of the practice and who would be harmed?
  • Are registry operators involved, or could they be, in fast flux hosting activities? If so, how?
  • Are registrars involved in fast flux hosting activities? If so, how?
  • How are registrants affected by fast flux hosting?
  • How are Internet users affected by fast flux hosting?
  • What technical (e.g. changes to the way in which DNS updates operate) and policy (e.g. changes to registry/registrar agreements or rules governing permissible registrant behavior) measures could registries and registrars implement to mitigate the negative effects of fast flux?
  • What would be the impact (positive or negative) of establishing limitations, guidelines, or restrictions on registrants, registrars and/or registries with respect to practices that enable or facilitate fast flux hosting?
  • What would be the impact of these limitations, guidelines, or restrictions to product and service innovation?
  • What are some of the best practices available with regard to protection from fast flux?

The group also will obtain expert opinion, as appropriate, on which areas of fast flux are in scope and out of scope for GNSO policy making.

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."