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DHS Aims to Secure Domain Name Resolution Services

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council (IT-SCC) released an IT Sector Risk Management (ITSRM) Strategy for Domain Name Resolution Services June 17, 2011. The risk-management strategy – which aims to ensure that cyber networks can recover from a potential attack or disaster strike – is the result of collaborative efforts from government and private-sector operators of Domain Name Services (DNS) and  supporting infrastructure.

DNS is a hierarchy of name servers that converts contextual host and domain names into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for every external-facing Web server, allowing Internet users to access services (webpages, e-mail, instant messages, and files) by simply typing the name for the host instead of a lengthy IP address.

ITSRM describes response and mitigation procedures for organizations, government agencies, and companies that are involved in operating DNS services or that provide Internet security services facing three major risks: mismanagement of data files or logs, improper disposal, or destruction of hard drives; the risk of domain owners, operators, and users ceasing to operate by the established domain naming system hierarchy; and to prevent malicious actors from exploiting the DNS and routing protocols to disrupt and degrade communications.

The DHS website summarizes the strategy recommendations as follows:

DNS Risk and Mitigation Overview

DNS Risk and Mitigation Overview. Table courtesy of DHS

  • promoting education, training, outreach, and awareness that focuses on data file misuse (both intentional and unintentional) as well as international engagement to develop and disseminate best practices for secure and trusted naming and grouping of domain names;
  • enhancing information sharing and relationships through global forums that address issues impacting the Internet from technical and policy perspectives; and
  • building enhanced capabilities and programs to protect against large-scale attacks including the implementation of continuous real-time monitoring of production equipment by network operation centers to anticipate and protect DNS infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Vital to national and economic security, the IT Sector Risk Management Strategy aims to secure and protect U.S. national cyberspace from new and evolving threats.