ICANN selects emergency backup registry operators

Hot on the heels of a report which raised security issues regarding generic top-level domains (gTLD), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced it has selected three companies to act as emergency registry operators for the organizations.

“The emergency back-end registry operators (EBEROs) are activated only if a registry fails to provide or is unable to sustain five critical registry functions temporarily or in the case of transition from one registry operator to another,” ICANN said in a statement today. “Having them in different regions of the world reduces the chance that a natural disaster would affect all three at any one time.”

The EBEROs are: The China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNC), Neustar Inc. in the United States and Nominet, based in the United Kingdom. The three EBEROs were selected through a Request for Information issued by ICANN on 14 September 2011.

Earlier, Internet name server and network infrastructure company Verisign Inc., warned in a report it sent March 28 to the United States Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the fast pace with which gTLDs are rolled out exposes the Domain Name System (DNS) to security and stability risks.


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Verisign also noted the slowness of ICANN in rolling out the EBEROs. Verisign said the organization had originally planned to have the EBEROs in place by June 2012, with simulations and drills taking place in January and February of 2013.

“With no EBERO providers, the continuity risk of any registry failure is significantly increases,” Verisign told the SEC.

If a registry should launch before the EBERO providers were ready to operate as backups for gTLD domains, the operation risks could be measured in days, weeks or even months rather than just hours as specified in the EBERO service level requirements covering registry failures and outages, said Verisign.

ICANN said that the three EBEROs will be ready for emergency response in the third quarter of 2013

The three providers will mitigate risk that a failed new TLD operator could impact the stability and security of the DNS, said ICANN. However, EBEROs are limited in the services they can provide.

For instance, EBEROs will maintain critical registry functions but will not render additional services that a TLD operator may have offered its customers, such as Web hosting and network analytics.

The critical functions of EBEROs are:

– DNS resolution for registered domain names

– Operation of Shared Registration System

– Provision of Whois service

– Registry data escrow deposits

– Maintenance of a property signed zone in accordance with DNSSEC requirements

Read the Verisign report here

Read the ICANN statement here

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