For the first time ever, a Dane has been chosen to guard a part of the key to the Internet’s root zone. The domain specialist, Kristian Ørmen at the provider GratisDNS, now have that honor.
“Denmark is a small country, but we have been put on the world map for many reasons – this is one of them, and of course it is interesting for me to be a part of”, says Kristian Ørmen.
He got the task from ICANN that is a non-profit organization. ICANN controls the internet’s root zone that contains all top-level domain names in the world like .dk, .com and .org. To ensure the root zone against hacking for instance, ICANN changes the root zone’s cryptographic keys at special ceremonies four times a year. However, changing the key demands that a specially selected group of people from all over the world and from different parts of the internet society, participate with their part of the key. There is a good reason why the system works like that:
“It is vital that everyone can have confidence in ICANN and therefore they have made a system, so that no single person rules the root zone. This is a good idea, since the internet belongs to all of us,” says Erwin Lansing, Head of Security in DK Hostmaster.
Important with proximity and accessibility
Kristian Ørmen agrees that distributing the responsibility among more persons is the right thing to do.
“If someone in Denmark or our part of the world have questions to, how the system works, it is easy for them to contact me. In the same way, there are other key holders represented in all other parts of the world. It is good with accessibility and proximity when it comes to trusting our common internet,” says Kristian Ørmen.
In all, twenty-one persons have a part of the key to the root zone. Fourteen of the twenty-one persons have key parts to the actual root zone. The last seven people, including Kristian Ørmen, have a part of a key that can decrypt a backup-key to the Internet’s root zone.
Kristian Ørmen’s key look like two small credit cards with a chip, and are behind locks in a safety deposit box. If a disaster happens which causes widespread failure of ICANN’s production systems, Kristian Ørmen are to bring the two cards to a data center in the United States, and recreate the backup key together with the other key holders. This task is Kristian Ørmen more than happy to have:
”It is a big honor for me to be a part of ensuring that everything is done, the way it is supposed to”.