Domain Name Security Rollover Is on Track Despite Worries

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By Marcus Hoy

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is moving ahead with its plan to change the encrypted keys that help secure the internet domain name system, despite concerns about possible service disruptions.

The switch to the new Key Signing Key (KSK) is on track for Oct. 11 as planned, ICANN officials told Bloomberg BNA March 14. ICANN is a nonprofit that coordinates the domain name system.

The KSK is a pair of public and private keys that creates a signature for an internet domain and is designed to ensure users are directed to the correct website. The Oct. 11 rollover will be the first time the KSK has been updated since its introduction in 2010. Engineers worry disruptions are possible if internet service providers aren’t aware of the new keys.

Matt Larson, ICANN’s vice president of research, said that raising awareness among operators is a challenge, but that his organization is doing everything it can to ensure a smooth transition.

“It is possible there will be some who do not get the message, and we’re doing everything we can to get the word out,” Larson said.

ICANN announced March 13 that it launched a testing platform for network operators to confirm their systems will be able to handle the automated update process for the rollover. ICANN revealed the public portion of the new KSK pair March 14 at its public meeting in Copenhagen.

Raising Awareness

ICANN officials told operators at the meeting to ensure that all relevant software is up to date in anticipation of the rollover. But it’s a challenge to get that message out.

‘There is always worry about the awareness,” Olafur Gudmundsson, systems engineer at web performance company CloudFlare told Bloomberg BNA March 14. Gudmunsson is an ICANN trusted community representative who participates KSK operations. “That is part of why we are here in a Copenhagen,” Gudmundsson said. “We need to get this in the mainstream, into respected publications, and on places like Twitter.”

Many network operators in Japan are unaware of the rollover, Yoshiro Yoneya, senior researcher at Japan Registry Services Co (JPRS) told Bloomberg BNA.

Larson said ICANN has made contingency plans in case anything goes wrong. “The ability is there to back out at any phase of the project up until the point when we actually revoke the old KSK, which is irrevocable,” he said. “There is plenty of time to get this right.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Marcus Hoy at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

For More Information

Further details of the rollover are available at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/ksk-rollover

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