UK registry to implement DNS security protocol

The system, DNSSEC, prevents hackers from redirecting people from legitimate domains to fraudulent ones

Nominet, the U.K.'s domain name registry, will begin implementing a security protocol on Monday designed to protect the DNS (Domain Name System).

The system, called DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), uses public key cryptography to digitally "sign" the DNS records for Web sites. It is designed to stop attacks such as cache poisoning, where a DNS server is hacked, making it possible for a user to type in the correct Web site name but be directed to a fake Web site.

In 2008, security researcher Dan Kaminsky showed it was possible to poison a cache in just a few seconds with a special kind of attack. Almost every organization running a DNS server have deployed a patch, but DNSSEC is a long-term fix.

Nominet will begin signing the ".uk" top-level domain beginning Monday, a process which will conclude a week later, said Simon McCalla, director of IT at the registry.

Interestingly, there are just a little over a dozen Web sites that use ".uk" since a decision was made more than a decade ago to close off registrations, he said. Much more common are second-level domains, such as ".co.uk" and ".org.uk," among others.

However, signing the ".uk" zone is crucial to building the so-called "chains of trust" required for full DNSSEC implementation, McCalla said. Cryptographic keys used to sign Web sites in different zones are validated by other zones.

That signing culminates at the "root zone," or the 13 authoritative nameservers located around the world that contain the master list of where computers can go to look up an address in a particular domain such as ".com." The DNS translates Web site names, such as www.idg.com into a numerical IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is used by computers to find a Web site.

Transitioning to DNSSEC can be difficult and expensive, although open-source developers have created a toolkit, called OpenDNSSEC, to ease the transition. Nominet, which is using the software, helped develop it along with other entities such as NLnet Labs and SIDN, the ".nl" registry, McCalla said.

"We've had to invest quite a bit of time and effort in getting this right," McCalla said. "We've invested a lot in the OpenDNSSEC software."

Nominet will begin signing ".co.uk" -- comprising more than 8 million Web sites -- later this year, working with any entity that operates a nameserver, as their software will have to be upgraded for DNSSEC.

So far, other entities have been slow to upgrade. McCalla said many appear to be waiting for the root zone to be signed. "I expect we will see a much greater awareness this year," he said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityDNSdomain namesDNSSECUKOpenDNSSEC

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?