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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK
Net body targets web security
Devastation in New York AP
Icann changed agenda after devastating attacks
The group which oversees the internet plans to devote its annual summit to online security following the US terror attacks.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) said it would use its November meeting to assess the security of the domain name system, which is crucial to directing web traffic and e-mail.

During the meeting, the body will look at how the web, e-mail and instant messaging can be used in times of global crises.

At their summit, Icann had planned to look at expanding the number of internet suffixes and consider how to make its board more democratic.

But following the devastating attacks in New York and Washington on 11 September, Icann said it would be irresponsible if it did not conduct an in-depth assessment of the stability and security of the internet's naming and addressing systems.

Internet's essential role

"The events of 11 September offered a stark and tragic reminder of the incalculable importance of a reliable and secure naming and addressing system to support emergency response, personal and other communications, and information sharing," it said in a statement on its website.


E-mail, instant messaging, and the web, for example, all played essential roles

Icann statement
"E-mail, instant messaging, and the web, for example, all played essential roles."

Central to the domain name system is a set of 13 root servers containing a list of 255 internet suffixes, such as .com, .info and .co.uk.

They are distributed throughout the world, though about half are in the United States.

The root servers are key way stations in the routing of internet traffic.

When a web browser tries to reach a site such as www.bbc.co.uk, it has to ask the root server to locate the corresponding internet protocol address - a string of numbers.

If all the servers were to fail simultaneously, the internet could be disabled over for period of time.

Icann oversees the institutions that manage and house the computers which assign and coordinate internet protocol numbers.

As a result, it can demand better security, as well as more frequent and comprehensive backups.

The three-day annual meeting will start on 13 November at Marina del Rey, California.

See also:

19 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Money for nothing
10 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Net name chaos grows
03 Sep 01 | Business
UN calls for web name controls
13 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Net body stamps on critics
07 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
Net body grapples with people power
10 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
New domain names edge closer
12 Sep 01 | Sci/Tech
US computer networks at risk
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