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AU domains on security alert

auDA proposes world first domain registration security measures

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Australia’s self-regulatory domain name registration regime is set for a shake up, following a proposal from governing body auDA that calls for the introduction of a mandatory information security standard (ISS) for all existing and potential registrars.

The requirement for all .au registrars would be a “world first” requirement and would potentially raise the bar for global security standards in the domain registration space.

The proposal has been devised by auDA’s Industry Advisory Panel as part of a wide ranging review of the structure and regulation of the Australian domain name industry. The Panel includes a range of industry stakeholders, and is part of the open and consultative mechanisms auDA uses to develop and refine policies for .au.

The need for advanced security measures was highlighted by an incident last year which decimated web hosting firm distribute.IT . Hackers permanently wiped files and websites affecting over 4800 accounts.

A spokesperson for auDA said the distribute.IT attack had raised a red flag and prompted the auDA to assemble a panel charged with developing a response. The issues paper has been released and is available for public comment until July 20.

An auDA spokesperson said that details of how the security framework would be implemented is still a work in progress and as the issues paper is in draft phase, much will depend on industry response and consultation.

Under the current agreement all registrars are obliged to immediately give auDA notice of any security breaches affecting any part of their systems but nothing else is demanded in relation to registrar security.

The Issues Paper which includes the draft auDA ISS Compliance Policy is risk-based, in that it requires registrars to undertake their own risk assessment and select the security controls that are most appropriate for their business.

Under the proposal a draft certification process is suggested designed to help each registrar to achieve certification with as much or as little assistance as they require.

The intention is that all registrars will be required to undertake full certification assessment every three years, with interim assessments annually. Registrars who fail any of their assessments will have their accreditation suspended, and then terminated if they have not passed their assessment within three months of being suspended.

“The Panel is aware that the introduction of a mandatory security standard for registrars would be a ‘world-first’, and would represent a significant change to the industry – not just for existing accredited registrars but also for prospective applicants for accreditation,” the paper notes.

The proposal also requires that registrars who use third party service providers including outsourced service providers for IT support, software development or hosting, will also need meet the auDA ISS. The onus will be on the registrar to demonstrate how those service providers comply with the security controls in this standard.

The Panel is also considering the best way to select and appoint a new registry operator prior to the expiry of the current contract with AusRegistry on 30 June 2014; the accreditation of registrars in light of the growing number of overseas-based registrars and the status of resellers in .au and the possibility of permitting bulk reseller transfers and the listing of resellers in WHOIS.®

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