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Internet stability not jeopardised by expanding domain name extensions

02 Aug 2017

The recent introduction of some 1,100 new generic top-level domain (gTLDs) like .google and .amsterdam has not degraded the stability and security of the root-DNS system. In the international internet community this question was raised when ICANN launched the New gTLD Program in 2012. ICANN therefore commissioned the CDAR consortium of SIDN, NLnet Labs and TNO to carry out a study of the technical impact of the introduction of new gTLDs.

Ever more domains

The DNS (Domain Name System) is one of the most essential internet systems, ensuring that user devices can find the webservers to download information from, for instance, www.tno.nl. As evident from the notation of www.tno.nl, the DNS has a hierarchical structure whereby the .nl component points to the so-called top level. Five years ago the DNS system comprised just around 300 top-level domains (TLDs), most of which were country code TLDs, like .nl for the Netherlands. In addition to these country codes, there are also generic top-level domains (gTLDs), the most familiar being .com, .net and .org.

In 2012 ICANN (a not-for-profit organisation that coordinates the key technical services critical to the continued operations of the Internet's underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS), as well as coordinating policy development for the DNS system worldwide) began the New gTLD Program, after which more than 1,100 new gTLDs were gradually introduced from September 2013. The new gTLD with the most registrations is .xyz under which more domain names are hosted than under .nl. To ascertain whether this expansion may adversely affect the stability or security of the internet’s root zone system, ICANN commissioned an empirical study. TNO has carried out this study – known as 'Continuous Data-driven Analysis of Root Stability' (CDAR) –  in a consortium with SIDN (the organisation behind .nl) and NLnet Labs.

Stability and security safeguarded

In this study the team analysed large quantities of historical internet data measurements. A major outcome is that so far all the new gTLDs together are responsible for only a very small proportion of the total number of queries on the root DNS system. The research team also found no indications that the new gTLDs lead to a significant increase in the load on the root system, nor was there any sign that the response times for queries by devices to the DNS were adversely affected by the introduction of the new gTLDs.

These results will be used by ICANN in preparing a subsequent round of new gTLD applications, as part of her mission to stimulate innovation, competition and consumer choice on the internet and to safeguard its stability and security.

Benefit from the Netherlands’ unique DNS knowledge position

In 2009, ahead of the introduction of hundreds of new top-level domains, ICANN also commissioned a similar study, called Scaling the root. The study was performed by an international consortium that included TNO. The choice by ICANN to have the CDAR study performed by the consortium comprising TNO, SIDN and NLnet Labs emphasises the unique knowledge position of the Netherlands in the area of DNS.

The CDAR project is one of the applications of the expertise of TNO in the area of DNS stability and security.

Do you want to know more about the CDAR project? Download the report.

For more information about what TNO could mean for the security and stability of your own DNS, please contact us.

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