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ccTLD News Memo #6 (27 October 2001)
* In this issue: Update on November 2001 ICANN
Meeting and ccTLD Security Work
To all ccTLD Administrative and Technical Contacts:
With this e-mail, we are resuming the ccTLD News Memo series that was
last active in 1998.
This e-mail has two parts: (A) an update on the program
for next month's ICANN meeting in Marina del Rey; and (B) an
invitation to the ccTLD community to initiate a bottom-up effort to assess
and improve ccTLD registry security practices.
(A) Update on November ICANN Meeting
We look forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming ICANN meeting.
Following the usual round of constituency meetings on 11 and 12 November,
the focus of the meeting on 13-15 November will be on DNS security/integrity/resiliency
issues. We intend to make it participatory, with panel and roundtable
discussions, breakout working groups, and constituency meetings.
The updated (but still tentative) schedule
for the meeting, including panels topics, is as follows:
13 NOVEMBER - Tuesday
0830 - CEO Welcome
0845 - Plenary talk - Steve Bellovin
0930 - Panel - Root Nameserver security
1030 - Break
1045 - Panel - DNS Security - Past & Future
1145 - Panel - TLD registry and nameserver security
1245 - Lunch - speaker
1430 - Cross-Constituent break-out groups
1615 - Break
1630 - Panel - Registry/registrar recovery & restoration
1930 - Reception - Marriott
14 NOVEMBER - Wednesday
0830 - Plenary talk - John Tritak
0900 - Plenary talk - Bruce Schneier
0945 - Break
1015 - Roundtable sessions
1215 - Lunch
1315 - Constituency meetings
1600 - Names Council wrap-up
1930 - Reception - Getty Museum
15 NOVEMBER - Thursday
0800 - Reporting session
Root Name Server operators
Regional Internet Registries
1000 - Open mike on security
1100 - Board meeting on security
1230 - Lunch
1400 - Open mike on other
1500 - Board meeting on other
As the schedule reflects, we are planning four panel sessions:
(1) Root Name Server Security.
Description: Overview of present system, security aspects, short
term plans for enhanced security, longer term considerations.
(2) DNS Security: Present and Future.
Description: Overview of current security aspects of domain nameservers
and plans for future security enhancements, such as DNSSEC.
(3) TLD registry & nameserver security.
Description: Overview of Registry operational & nameserver security
(4) Registry/registrar recovery/restoration.
Description: Management of crisis situations (both preparation for
and recovery from), with an emphasis on post-Sept 11 threat analysis
Obviously, we are working to have ccTLD manager participation on panels
(3) and (4). Panel membership is being finalized by the program committee.
Schedule updates are being posted regularly at <http://www.icann.org/mdr2001>.
As you will note, we will be asking the ccTLD constituency to meet
on the afternoon of 14 November, to prepare for a public report on the
morning of 15 November. The agenda for that meeting and the report are,
of course, up to the ccTLD community. We anticipate that the ccTLDs
will work together to justify the confidence of the global Internet
community, and to evaluate what security-related efforts should be undertaken
by ccTLD managers, individually and collectively.
In that regard, let me turn to the second, closely related topic of
(B) ccTLD Security Work
In the wake of 11 September, many people around the world are looking
at the Internet and saying: "I depend on it. Is it secure, in the
face of crisis situations? Is it reliable?" From the standpoint
of the DNS, we know that it is remarkably robust and resilient. The
underlying distributed architecture of the DNS is itself an enormously
powerful platform for stability and integrity. And we know that the
DNS registries include a number of very impressive, highly secure operations.
At the same time, I think it is fair to say the following:
(1) It is reasonable for Internet users, ISPs, governments, etc.,
to ask about the security of the DNS and its registries.
(2) To merit confidence among the user community, we have to be able
to explain the architecture of the DNS and the security work that
has already been done by the registries. We also have to evaluate
what additional steps can be done, and document what is expected of
registries in this area (i.e., in a "best practices" or
(3) There is always room for improvement; you can always learn from
the experiences of your peers (this applies to ICANN no less than
to the registries).
With that in mind, ICANN is looking to the root nameserver operators,
the name and address registries, and the gTLD registrars to take seriously
the security worries of the global Internet's user communities, and
to develop, in a bottom-up way, standards and reports to justify the
confidence of those communities. Some of those groups have already begun
- Root Nameservers. Through the Root Server System AdvisoryCommittee
and various collaborators, the root nameserver operators are working
on a range of efforts to improve the overall stability and integrity
of the root nameservers. They will be reporting to the community by
way of a panel on 13 November.
- gTLD Registries. ICANN has asked the gTLD registries to prepare
reports on security-related topics. The gTLD registries have all agreed
to do so, and are collectively working on a Registry Best Practices
document that focuses on security. The gTLD constituency has also
formed a Registry Failure Task Force, which will examine ideas like
a "buddy" system.
- RIRs. The IP address registries have agreed to give a report focusing
Because they are so much more numerous, however, we have not asked
the ccTLD registries or gTLD registrars to undertake any security-related
work in advance of the November meetings. But I do ask that you begin
to think about initiatives in the area of DNS registry security. As
a community, we must demonstrate that security issues are being given
adequate consideration by the TLD registries, ICANN, etc.
At the November meeting, there will be two focus areas: one primarily
for a technically inclined audience that builds on panels addressing
issues relating to root-servers and DNSSEC; and another for a registry/registrar
managerial audience that builds on panels that cover nameserver security
and registry service recovery/restoration issues. Panel discussions,
and breakout session workshops, will occur for participants to address
the issues with colleagues and counterparts. Additionally, we are inviting
the constituencies to meet on the afternoon of 14 November, and to make
presentations to the community on 15 November.
In sum, constituents within the ICANN community are being asked to
begin internal dialogues on their respective security issues. For example,
the gTLD registry constituency is discussing registry security and recovery
topics, Registry Best Practices, and will be providing a constituency
presentation on the status of their work. We know that many ccTLDs already
have effective practices in place regarding security issues, both for
protection from potential threats and the recovery/restoration in crisis
In similar fashion, we want to encourage the ccTLD registries to begin
a community dialogue about ccTLD registry security issues, especially
from a ccTLD manager's standpoint and at the national level. Existing
practices should be addressed, exploring whether there are common standards.
For example, can we identify standard ccTLD registry measures relating
to protection against potential threats, such as site security, network
security, or management and personnel practices? Can we identify standard
practices by ccTLDs to recover from actual serious failures, such as
data backup, data escrow, or recovery procedures and processes. What
reporting mechanisms should we expect? We note that the ccTLD constituency
of the DNSO has already done work in this area, as have some of the
regional ccTLD organizations. The constituency's
Best Practice Guidelines identifies some of these issues, for example,
in Section 3.3 ("Operational Requirements").
Please feel free to contact me or Herbert Vitzthum, ccTLD Liaison, should
you have any questions or like to explore areas of discussion.
With kind regards,
M. Stuart Lynn
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