As administrators of the .au domain, auDA recognises the criticality of the domain name system (DNS) to modern society. To explore the importance of the DNS, we hosted a webinar in November 2022 with auDA CEO Rosemary Sinclair AM, auDA Internet Governance and Policy Director Jordan Carter, and Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (Cyber Security CRC) CEO Rachael Falk. You can catch up on the webinar on our website and read on for our top five takeaways below.
1. The DNS is a directory for the internet
The domain name system (DNS) is often described as a directory for the internet. It is a globally distributed infrastructure system that enables internet users to find their way through the internet. It does this by mapping readable words (domain names) to unique internet protocol (IP) addresses that set out the location of internet resources.
2. The DNS underpins the internet as we know it
The importance of the DNS to modern society cannot be overstated. The DNS underpins virtually every system and function relied upon in our digital world.
It enables people to navigate and access the vast amount of information stored on the internet and connects billions of internet users to essential online services each day. These range from email to web-browsing, app-based services, e-commerce and telecommunications. In 2021-22, the .au DNS responded to an average of 2.6 billion DNS queries each day from people in Australia and around the world.
Discussing the DNS at auDA's community webinar
3. The .au DNS is Australian critical infrastructure
The .au DNS is designated as Australian critical infrastructure under the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018 (Cth). This designation recognises Australia’s reliance on a trusted and secure .au DNS for the operation of government services, education, medical services, e-commerce, social connections and much more.
auDA implements best practice security standards and works with the broader domain name industry to ensure the reliability and stability of the .au. This supports internet users to find their intended website or direct emails to the correct location, boosting trust in .au and enabling people to effectively engage with services online.
4. The DNS is governed by multi-stakeholder processes
The internet – including the DNS – is governed by multi-stakeholder governance processes. Multi-stakeholder processes bring together technical experts, industry organisations (such as auDA), governments and civil society.
“The key thing that makes the multi-stakeholder model different is that the decisions are made on their merits about how the technology will affect an open, free, secure and global internet by people that are experts in their area. It isn’t a bunch of diplomats, but people with deep knowledge and understanding having the hard conversations about shaping the technology for the benefit of all.” Jordan Carter, Internet Governance and Policy Director, auDA.
However, there are some countries that want to move away from multi-stakeholder internet governance, which poses a threat to an open, free, secure and global internet.
“We need to protect the open and free nature of the internet. auDA is a champion of the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance ... This model helps ensure that undue influence isn’t given to governments that may want to suppress free speech or drive other agendas.” Rosemary Sinclair AM, CEO, auDA.
This leads to a challenge for auDA and other internet stakeholders to further engagement in multi-stakeholder internet governance to ensure the internet remains accessible to all, underpinned by a single global network.
CyberCRC paper: Deciphering the DNS: what it is, how it works and why it’s critical
5. The Cyber Security CRC released a paper on the DNS
With support from auDA, the Cyber Security CRC released a paper – Deciphering the DNS: what it is, how it works and why it’s critical. The paper aims to provide an understanding of the underlying architecture of the internet and how it works and raises issues relating to the fundamental importance of the DNS to the modern world.
“We wanted to help everyone understand what the DNS is, its origins, why it’s important. Like most things that are intangible, you really don’t know it matters until you type in your desired address, and it goes nowhere. You want it to resolve to safe and trusted websites.” Rachael Falk, CEO, Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre.
To learn more, read Deciphering the DNS: what it is, how it works and why it’s critical on the auDA website.