Home opinion-and-analysis The Linux Distillery Is the second coming of DNS Y2K all over again?

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DNS is the Domain Name System and is the central postmaster of the Internet. Changes are coming to add security, but naysayers would have you believe it is Y2K all over again.

DNS makes the Internet work. You type in www.itwire.com into a web browser and it's DNS which tells your computer the underlying network address of the iTWire web server. Send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and again it's DNS which helps your e-mail wend its way through the tubes that make up the Internet.

This is a good thing but there is a possible crisis coming. For some, May 5th may be the end of the online world. It depends. Let me tell you the story. While I'm at it, I'll help our competition along the way who missed a few salient points.

In short, all Internet-facing servers have a unique IP address and it is DNS which translates the friendly names we know into those addresses. Consider DNS the wise old sage of the Internet who has everyone in his rolodex.

Yet, not everyone on the Internet is as nice as you and I. There are people who would like to intercept DNS requests - imagine if (for instance) your online banking transactions were actually sent to a hostile phishing server, because the DNS request was intercepted and tampered with?

DNSSEC is the next generation of DNS; fundamentally it stands for DNS Security Extensions and, as you might gather, adds security to the DNS protocol.
DNSSEC is designed to protect the Internet from attacks like the one described above, otherwise known as 'man in the middle'.

There are other DNS vulnerabilities like cache poisoning. In this scenario, the bad guys aren't just intercepting one request and sending you elsewhere. Instead, they are seeking to inject bad data into your DNS cache which can affect future DNS lookups made.

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.

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