Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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AFRINIC 27 MEETING

NITEC 2017

 Nigeria International Technology & Exhibition Conference (NITEC 2017) held successfully on Tuesday 4th July 2017 at Sheraton Lagos Hotel. The event lived up to its billing, the youth trooped out in high number to participate at the NITEC 2017, wanting to showcase the best of the technology ecosystem and discuss innovation. NiRA Accredited registrars were on ground to provide domain name registration services and hosting opportunities. NiRA utilizes every opportunity to showcase its business partners and ensure the growth of the .ng brand.

CPN 2017 IT PROFESSIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Computer Professionals (Registration Council of) Nigeria hosted the 2017 IT Professional Assembly with the theme “IT for good governance and economic transformation”. The event which took place at the Abuja International Conference Center from Wednesday, 28th June to Thursday, 29th June, 2017 was attended by various dignitaries and senior Information Technology (IT) officials; and featured many seasoned speakers in the Information Technology profession.

The annual CPN Information Technology Professionals’ Assembly is a conference of Information Technology practitioners, decision makers and IT stakeholders in Nigeria. The Assembly provided opportunities for key players in the industry to dynamically discuss and strategize on evolving and challenging issues in Information Technology in order to come up with recommendations and decisions that will impart positively on the industry and the nation.

NiRA representatives and NiRA Accredited Registrars, exhibited at the event and provided a platform for participants to engage and register their .ng domain name.

DOMAIN NAME REGISTRATION STATISTICS APRIL, MAY & JUNE 2017

Within June 2017, there are a total of 5,831 fresh domain name registrations. This figure is more than the June 2016 registrations of 4,453. This is a remarkable improvement in the year to year comparison. The total number of active domain names is on the increase.  By 30th June 2017, there are 90,969 active .ng domain names. We have also noted the increase in the number of applicants who wish to become NiRA Accredited Registrars. Kindly click the link below for detailed information on how to become a .ng Accredited Registrar http://nira.org.ng/become-a-registrar

The African DNS Market and echos of ICANN 59

I led the NiRA delegation to the just concluded ICANN 59 Public Meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26th to 29th June 2017. Because the meeting held in Africa, more focus was on our continent of Africa and the activities.  The Nigeria Community was represented and appreciated.

The Government Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN met and all sessions were conducted as open meetings. The discussions hovered around 2-character country codes at the second level, DNS abuse mitigation, geographical names as Top-Level Domains, etc. All the sessions were educative and interactive.

ICANN released its final report on the Africa DNS Market Study. The report is part of ICANN’s outreach efforts to support and improve the regional DNS industry. It was a study of 54 African countries. The report highlighted the strength and weakness in the DNS sector in Africa, explored options for continuous monitoring of the growth, developing and emerging needs of the DNS market in Africa. The findings of the report were to guide the next steps for capacity building in Africa.

The report met with a lot of criticisms from most ccTLD operators at its unveiling. Indeed, when it was my turn to discuss the report at the presentation, my observations were: 

 

     The study used data that was older than the span of the study. The Nigerian data used was almost two years old. I suggested that it would have been great if the study looked at the trend on an annual basis, but the study itself took almost 18 months to complete, thus an annual appraisal will not work for now.

     The study estimated the size of the domain worth, using domain names instead of the business. The value of the business, hence name is not the cost of the domain alone. For some businesses, the name is the business, e.g. hotels.ng.

     The study did not consider the impact of premium domains. Most ccTLDs like .ng, .ke etc have the possibility of offering names with premium value, and indeed NIRA has been successful with offering premium domains.

 

     The study did not correlate domain uptake with GDP as well as the impact of Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurship, key drivers on domain name uptake.

Authors of the report agreed with all points raised.

 

NIRA has seen a year-on-year growth of not less than 60% in domain names. The study noted NIRA at 40,000 domains, that was the count two years ago. We have since crossed the 90,000 mark.

 

 

 

The next phase in the implementation plan of the study, is the setup of a DNS Observatory, to provide more accurate information for accurate planning and forecasting in Africa. NIRA is delighted to be a part of all these efforts.

 

I remain at your service.

Rev’d Sunday Folayan

President, NIRA Executive Board

 

 

 

THE DARK WEB: THE LAND OF HIDDEN SERVICES

In 2014, according to Internet Live Stats, the World Wide Web passed the one billion website benchmark and the number keeps growing every second. By 4th July 2017, there were 1.2billion websites worldwide. The publishers of these over billion websites compete for search engine relevance and the attention of nearly 3.6 billion Internet users.  There is another part of the Web, however, where publishers and visitors want to navigate websites and conduct business transactions in secret. This is the Dark Web, a land of hidden services, where leaving no tracks and preserving anonymity are valued over search engine rankings and web experience personalization.

The Dark Web

The Dark Web is an important part of the Internet ecosystem. It allows for the publication of websites and the dissemination of information without revealing the publisher’s identity or location. The Dark Web is only accessible through services such as Tor. Many users use Tor and similar services as a means to provide freedom of expression and association, access to information, and the right to privacy.

 

The Deep Web

The Deep Web is the collection of all websites that are not indexed by search engines. Some Deep Websites are unconventional marketplaces that offer a disturbing range of products or services. You can buy or broker illegal drugs, weapons, counterfeit goods, stolen credit cards or breached data, digital currencies, malware, national identity cards or passports. You can contract digital or criminal services, ranging from spam campaigns to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Novices can even purchase eBooks that explain how to attack websites, steal identities or otherwise profit from illegal activities.

But you can also use the Deep Web to anonymously share information with media outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington PostThe Intercept, and others, as well use search engines without giving up your privacy, or engage in legitimate e-commerce network such as OpenBazaar.

Leave No Trace: Encryption and Evasion for the Dark Web

Many Internet users use encryption – for example, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – to keep Internet activities private. VPN connections typically abide by the conventional behavior of Internet routing for  the determination of an end-to-end path from a user’s computer to a server that hosts content that the user wants to access and the bidirectional transmission of requests and response traffic along this path. Conventional routing, however, is susceptible to traffic analysis, a surveillance technique that can reveal traffic origins, destinations and times of transmission to third parties. Traffic analysis is related to metadata collection.

Tor networks are popular solutions for maintaining anonymity and privacy and for defeating traffic analysis. Who uses Tor? Journalists, whistleblowers, dissidents, or generally any Internet users who do not want third parties to track their behavior or interests. Tor serves many good purposes, but also attracts Dark Web users wanting to keep their activities or marketplaces secret and untraceable.

Like VPNs, Tor networks use virtual tunnels, but unlike VPNs, these tunnels don’t connect clients directly to servers. Instead, Tor clients create circuits through relay points in the Tor network. Tor circuits have three important properties.

      No relay point knows the entire path between circuit endpoints.

      Each connection between relays is uniquely encrypted.

      All connections are short-lived to prevent observation of behavior over time. 

Constructed using these properties, these Tor private network pathways defeat traffic analysis and support the ability to publish content without revealing identity or location.

Names for Dark Websites

Unlike the human-readable domain names that we are accustomed to using when we navigate the web, Dark Websites use names of Tor hidden services. These are always 16-character values prepended to the .onion top-level domain. Any computer that runs Tor software can host a hidden (e.g., web) service. Dark Web users often find names out of band, for example, from pastebin or Dark Web market lists. 

Tor software operating on a Tor host will create a local file directory, assign a port number for the service, and generate a public-private key pair when it configures a hidden service. Tor software creates a 16-character hostname by first computing a hash of the public key of that key pair and then converting the first 80 bits of this hash from a binary value to ASCII to make the resulting 16 characters conform to the “letter digit hyphen” requirement for the Domain Name System (DNS) protocol.

Dark Web visitors do not use the public DNS to resolve .onion names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses – instead, resolution occurs using the entirely separate Tor hidden service protocol. This protocol helps services make their existences known and helps clients find services, while preserving the anonymity and the location (IP address) of both client and service. Both the client and the hidden service host have active roles in this process.

First, a Tor host “advertises” a hidden service by creating and publishing a service descriptor to a distributed directory service. This descriptor contains the hidden service public key and a list of Tor nodes that will serve as introduction points, trusted intermediaries for the hidden service. Next, the Tor host creates connections to the introduction points it has listed. Any Tor client that wants to connect to the hidden service can now do so through these introduction points.

To connect to a hidden service, a Tor client queries the directory service for the service descriptor. It randomly chooses an introduction point from the list in the service descriptor. The Tor client then randomly chooses a rendezvous point in the Tor network, anonymously connects to the chosen introduction point through the rendezvous point, and transmits a message to the hidden service via the introduction point. This message contains the identity of the rendezvous point, encrypted using the hidden service’s public key, and material needed to begin a cryptographic “handshake.” The hidden service also creates a connection back to this chosen rendezvous point and sends a message that completes the cryptographic handshake. At this point, the client and hidden service have set up a private network pathway that is resistant to surveillance – and they can exchange data anonymously and confidentially.

Why Are All Dark Websites in the .onion Top-Level Domain?

The .onion top-level domain is reserved for hidden service names. Contrary to popular misconception, ICANN did not delegate .onion from the public root of the DNS. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) designated .onion as a special-use top-level domain to be used in implementing an anonymous service with strong confidentiality characteristics, deemed to be “desired new functionality”.

Can I Visit the Dark Web? Should I?

ou may want to use Tor to avail yourself of some of the Dark Web's services. Even though you might benefit from increased anonymity on the Dark Web, this is never a reason to engage in illegal activities.

Culled from https://www.icann.org/news/blog/the-dark-web-the-land-of-hidden-services