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Domain Name System Root Key Changed Without Incident

15 October, 2018

While some predicted global chaos, ICANN's first-ever changing of the cryptographic key that helps protect the Domain Name System (DNS) appears to have been trouble-free.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) helps coordinate technical services critical to the continued operation of the Internet's underlying address book, the Domain Name System (DNS).

The Domain Name System is located on millions of servers spread across the planet and is updated by root servers, but operates like a single database.

Back in September, ICANN's board passed a resolution to change the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) key on 11 October 2018, the first time it had been changed or "rolled" since it was first implemented in 2010. This exercise also required affected network operators such as ISPs using DNSSEC to have their resolvers properly configured as failure to do so would result in major issues for users associated with those service providers.

The changeover of the DNS root key was meant to occur around a year ago, but was put off due to concerns over readiness of network operators at that point in time.

As the time for the changing of the key drew near last week, some news sites warned of a "global internet shutdown" as a result of the exercise, even though ICANN had previously stated a very small percentage of Internet users were expected to see problems in resolving some domain names. 

More than 60 hours after the changeover occurred, reported problems were few according to ICANN.

Even in cases where operators may had failed to properly configure their services, the fix would have been relatively straightforward - although no doubt accompanied by complaints from irate customers.

The non-event again helped drive home the point that you just can't trust everything you read about the internet on the internet.

This first key change won't be the last, but perhaps future rollovers won't attract such dire warnings.

" we do more key rollovers in the future, the network operators, ISPs, and others will become more accustomed to the practice," said Matt Larson, Vice President of Research at ICANN in September.

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