auDA acts to protect Aunic database

Following reports of a breach of security, auDA, the Australian self-regulator of Internet names, has moved swiftly to protect the security of the Aunic database.

The Aunic 'whois' database provides access to information about who owns .au domain names and has been hosted by NetRegistry on auDA's behalf from May of this year.

Following a breach of security and other matters of concern, auDA's lawyers, Maddock Lonie & Chisholm, terminated the hosting agreement with NetRegistry on October 10, on instruction by auDA.

Chris Disspain, CEO of auDA, said, auDA started to conduct the investigation about two weeks before this termination. auDA announced the termination of the agreement today.

Under legal advice, auDA would not provide details of the breach of security or the other matters that lead to auDA terminating the hosting agreement, as the investigation is still under way.

Disspain said the breach of security was an entirely separate matter to the misuse in recent times of Aunic data by some .com.au resellers.

Recently, an auDA spokesperson told Computerworld that .com.au resellers are querying the Aunic 'whois' database (the central database of .au names) to determine what domain names are up for renewal, and using the contact details from the database to issue renewal notices to domain name holders in a direct marketing technique that drew resentment from the targetted business domain name holders.

To guard against abuse of the system or improper use by commercial interests, auDA put restrictions to bulk access to the system a couple of months ago. People wanting to access details about domains and their owners can only query the database individually, and are restricted to 30 queries an hour.

Today, Disspain said, "auDA will act with vigilance to protect the security of the Aunic system, and ensure that the system operates for the benefit of the Internet community.

"auDA will do everything in its power to curb unauthorised access to, and the misuse of, data in Aunic and the Aunic system itself."

Aunic is at present being hosted by Optus and AuDA is finalising new backup and redundancy processes.

Initially, NetRegistry was appointed to provide hosting services for Aunic in response to a request for tender. In exchange, NetRegistry was allowed to place its logo on the Aunic Web site under strict conditions.

However, NetRegistry no longer has its logo on the site and its involvement with Aunic has ended.

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Siobhan Chapman

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