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Will IDNs Pose the Next Big Security Threat

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) Which is the International body responsible for, among other things, administering the domain name system (DNS) announced that Countries can now apply for website domain names and TLDs “Top Level Domain Names” that are non-Roman characters. With countries like Egypt, China , Israel and Russia already applying for Arabic ,Chinese , Hebrew and Cyrillic respectively. marking the true beginning of IDNs (International Domain Names).

Experts expect the new breed of URLs to surface within a year, ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush noted in a statement, “The IDN program will encompass close to one hundred thousand characters, opening up the Internet to billions of potential users around the globe.”

“This is the biggest technical change to the Internet’s addressing system – the Domain Name System – in many years,” said Tina Dam, ICANN’s senior director of Internationalized Domain Names. “Right now, it’s not possible to get a domain name entirely in, for example, Chinese characters or Arabic characters. This is about to change.”

My Comment :
I think its a good step to increase the accessibility and usability of the Internet but it’s unlikely to come without a cost.

There is no way that we can properly manage this new system without DNSsec, which must be an international priority now.

DNS Security measures will need to be taken very seriously. The incidental difference between BankofAmerica.com from BánkofAmerica.com is just a small example of how criminals can exploit the new system.

Not to mention the foreseeable technical challenges in properly identifying the new breed of Phishing sites and SPAM Servers…etc, to sum it up this will be the biggest challenge to date facing the internet critical resources.

Former ICANN CEO stated back in 2006 that “There are 37 possible characters that can be used in domain names, but if non-English letters are allowed, this number would rise to 50,000 or more, ( My Comment: Actually more like a 100,000 ) said Twomey. He added that this could create problems where, for example, a character in Urdu looks identical to one in Arabic. This would confuse the system and make it difficult to direct users to the right website every time.

ICANN Announcement: HERE