Saturday, 22 October 2016

hug of death or one ring to rule them all

Quaintly and soberingly, we’re reminded that the internet is controlled by seven individuals (plus their understudies) who are stewards of seven keys, meeting quarterly in a ceremony steeped with ritual to verify and update the underlying architecture of the web and ensure that no one could make changes unanimously.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), which recently absorbed the protective redundancy built into the Domain Name System (DNS) when the US relinquished control earlier in the year, is the unglamourous sounding metonymic monarch that’s accorded all this pomp and circumstance and this level of security. With as de-centralised as the internet is, it’s a little hard to appreciate the role of this obscure office, but it’s akin to the clearing houses that control banking transfers, establishing a naming-conversion and turning strings of numbers into addresses that people can recall and without their oversight, internet sites could experience denial of service attacks where so much traffic is redirected to one site, its servers are overloaded and the site shuts down—the hug of death, or imposter sites could be more easily fabricated to siphon off user data. We owe it to ourselves, I think, to try to understand this strange and inscrutable cabal a little better.