Zurich: New security server to protect the Internet

June 22, 2011 / Marco D'Alessandro

On 22 June 2011, at a meeting of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in Singapore, the first of three new security servers for protecting the Internet was presented. The servers from Packet Clearing House (PCH) hold special cryptographic keys, which are required for the DNSSEC security protocol, which also protects the Internet addresses for Switzerland (.ch) and Liechtenstein (.li). The two other locations are in Zurich, where SWITCH will be bringing the server into operation in September 2011 and in San Jose (California).

Simon Leinen, network engineer at SWITCH is delighted that PCH has selected Zurich as a server location. "The decision in favour of Zurich is based on the excellent, longstanding cooperation between PCH and SWITCH. PCH has been running a number of the name servers responsible for .ch and .li throughout the world."

The three new security servers at the locations of Singapore, Zurich (still under construction) and San Jose (California) hold special cryptographic keys that are required for the DNSSEC security protocol. The project will allow smaller countries to protect their Top Level Domains with DNSSEC. Among the first participants are Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan and ten other countries. DNSSEC guarantees Internet users the authenticity of the websites they visit. DNSSEC is like a type of insurance that makes certain that Internet users are only shown the website they wish to call up.

What is DNSSEC?
DNSSEC is an extension of the Domain Name System (DNS) which serves to secure the authenticity and integrity of the data in DNS responses. Through technical means, the querying computer (e.g. an Internet browser) is able to establish whether the response for an Internet address in the DNS actually comes from the server that is registered as being competent at SWITCH. At the same time, DNSSEC makes sure that this response has not been modified on its way through the Internet.

As a non-profit organisation, SWITCH has been guaranteeing Switzerland’s access to the Internet for more than 20 years. One hundred employees work on a daily basis on further developing Internet technology, facilitating the exchange of knowledge for Swiss universities and increasing the security of the Internet in Switzerland. In 2012, the Internet service provider with its head office in Zurich will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.

About Packet Clearing House (PCH):
Packet Clearing House is a non-profit research institute that supports operations and analysis in the areas of Internet traffic exchange, routing economics and global network development. PCH operates name servers for the Internet addresses .ch and .li for SWITCH.