Simon McCalla talks to V3.co.uk about Nominet's efforts to make the internet a safer place for everyone.
V3.co.uk: Can you tell us a bit about your role as IT
director for .uk registry Nominet?
Simon McCalla: I look after the technical side of the business, primarily the safety and security of the domain name system [DNS], and I also manage our own IT systems that keep Nominet running and that registrars and registrants use, as well as our public facing sites. I also sit on key committees and make sure Nominet always has a place in pushing forward the idea of safety and security on the internet. It's very much part of our vision.
Are there some practical examples of initiatives you've helped to
promote and develop?
Where we can, we will apply our technical expertise and influence in this area. Things like the Best Practice Challenge and being involved in DNS Security Extensions [DNSSec] and the formation of some groups involved in the new generic Top-Level Domain [gTLD] process, and basically how to make these secure and safe.
What need is DNSSec serving?
Well, the DNS has been around for more than 20 years and was originally developed as an academic trusted space. It was never envisaged to be running the internet we know today, and it has some flaws. If you're smart enough you can intercept the traffic and inject different DNS records into the system so that a user could be directed to a spoof site. Also the DNS allows people to read other mail records. If someone hijacked these records it could be harder to spot than a dodgy site. However, we've not seen a lot of DNS attacks as it's technically quite a challenge. DNSSec is the process of creating digital signatures to authenticate the traffic travelling between name servers, making it virtually impossible to spoof.
Has implementation been held back?
Well, it's not particularly complex to implement but not everyone has the technical skills in their IT department to manage the necessary Public Key Infrastructures, especially if they're a small registrar. Which is why we got involved with OpenDNSSec. This is an open-source project tool to manage the deployment of DNSSec. It's about getting DNSSec in now, getting people's awareness up and implementing it across the internet. We're signing .uk this week which is a vital step. It's stating that we're starting the process of implementing it across all of our domains, and working with technical and policy groups to get buy-in. Once we've signed .uk we'll do the same with .co.uk. It is a big technical effort and we need to make each registrar and ISP understand what it means to them. Tools like OpenDNSSec are great in creating awareness and saying: 'Here's a technical challenge but here's how we can help.'
How does Nominet feel about the new gTLDs? Will it affect the growth
We feel very positive. I don't think that it will devalue existing domains but will open up the web to a wider audience. There are existing groups who maybe feel as if they are underserved by the current domain system. But there are intellectual property and trademark protection challenges. There's a lot of work to be done by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). The challenge will also be for those trademark holders to create a viable domain trusted by everyone. We've actually seen an increase in the trust of .uk addresses, but our aim is for the whole of the internet to be a trusted space.
Nominet is the registry for the Enum number mapping protocol. How is
Enum has a lot of advantages to businesses, but take-up is not as strong as people had predicted. We need a critical mass of people to take advantage of it. We'll relocate the pricing model though. We want to encourage VoIP providers to bundle Enum with their services, and we've had pretty positive discussions so far. We also see the mobile apps market as another area which could use Enum very well. We're working with a Dutch registry to create an Enum portal for developers to encourage them to write apps for Enum. We've also created a monetary prize for the best ideas, and separate prizes for good business ideas and for students. We hope it'll generate interest and we'd love to see BlackBerry or iPhone apps using Enum in creative ways.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago