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Commerce Department to Work with ICANN and VeriSign to Enhance the Security and Stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System

For Immediate Release: June 3, 2009

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Contact: Bart Forbes, NTIA
202-482-7002

WASHINGTON —The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that the two agencies are working with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and VeriSign on an initiative to enhance the security and stability of the Internet. The parties are working on an interim approach to deployment, by year’s end, of a security technology—Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC)—at the authoritative root zone (i.e., the address book) of the Internet. There will be further consultations with the Internet technical community as the testing and implementation plans are developed.

The Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS) is a critical component of the Internet infrastructure. The DNS associates user-friendly domain names (e.g., www.commerce.gov) with the numeric network addresses (e.g., 170.110.225.163) required to deliver information on the Internet, making the Internet easier for the public to navigate. The accuracy, integrity, and availability of the data supplied by the DNS are essential to the operation of any system or service that uses the Internet. Over the years, vulnerabilities have been identified in the DNS protocol that threaten the authenticity and integrity of the DNS data. Many of these vulnerabilities are mitigated by DNSSEC, which is a suite of Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) specifications for securing information provided by the DNS. 
 
“The Internet is an ever-increasing means of communications and commerce, and this success is due in part to the Internet domain name and addressing system,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Anna M. Gomez. “The Administration is committed to preserving the stability and security of the DNS, and today’s announcement supports this commitment.”

"NIST has been an active participant within the international community in developing the DNSSEC protocols and has collaborated with various U.S. agencies in deploying DNSSEC within the .gov domain," said Cita M. Furlani, director of NIST's Information Technology Laboratory. "Signing the root will significantly speed up the global deployment of DNSSEC and enhance the security of the Internet.”

The NTIA in the U.S. Department of Commerce serves as the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the President on communications and information policies. For more information about the NTIA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov.

As a non-regulatory agency, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. For more information visit, www.nist.gov.

Additional Contact: Chad Boutin, NIST, 301-975-4261