Monday, 02 July 2018 10:20

Neustar contests claims made by new .au manager Afilias

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American technology company Neustar says the new manager of the .au domain namespace, Afilias, has made a number of incorrect assertions about the time when Neustar was managing the .au namepsace, and issued a blog post about what it says are claims that need to be clarified.

Neustar vice-president for Australian registry services George Pongas said that he had kept quiet thus far because of professional courtesy and due to the company's commercial relationship with auDA.

Neustar bought Australian firm Bombora Technologies, the parent company of ARI Registry Services, AusRegistry and ZOAK Solutions, in 2015. AusRegistry was managing the .au domain namespace for 16 years, with Afilias taking over from Sunday, following a tender put out by auDA in 2017, and Neustar assumed this role from the time of the acquisition.

Pongas said Afilias had claimed that there would be 24/7 .au customer service beginning on 1 July. This, he said, was incorrect because Neustar had already been providing round-the-clock service and technical support based in Australia.

A second claim made by Afilias was that Western Australia would be better served as there would be a dedicated DNS mode installed in Perth. "Neustar already operates a DNS node in Perth, and regardless this does not guarantee the claimed improvements," Pongas said.

He added that just because there was a local node, there was no guarantee that a user's query would end up there. "Neustar has 30 global DNS nodes supporting its full Registry system plus the largest DDoS mitigation platform in the world, with 10Tbps of mitigation capacity. It’s unclear what protection (if any) will be safeguarding .au in the future," he added.

Pongas also took aim at Afilias' claim that that the new registry would offer superior technology, pointing out: "The new Registry system is retrofitted and not bespoke to .au."

Said Pongas: "The current Neustar Registry platform has two dedicated sites in-country (active/active) to support the technical demands of .au, with full failover possible in under a very short amount of time in case of a serious incident.

"The new registry will switch to one dedicated site in Melbourne that is managed by engineers, DBAs, and developers mostly based overseas – with a cloud-based stand-by (cold site). The question is: has this been tested to see how quickly emergency failover can be implemented?

"In addition, our current understanding is this new set-up has been retrofitted from other TLDs; whereas our registry was custom-built for .au, with over 16 years of development to explicitly meet all auDA policy and technical requirements. It was also built here in Australia and therefore has always stored and managed all .au data in-country."

Another claim that Afilias had made was about enhanced security for the .au namespace under its management, with the company pointing to “massive capacity, smarter DNS, [and] DNSSEC deployment” as “enhancements” to the protection and safeguarding of .au.

"In actuality, Neustar’s existing DNS is scaled globally to handle capacity massively above the regular volumes of traffic," Pongas said. "Not only this, Neustar has multiple layers of security and features to handle unusual traffic, attacks and denial of service events."

Finally, Pongas said contrary to Afilias' claim that registrars would see upgrades to their systems when the transition of the registry occurred, the new registry systems would actually have reduced feature sets.

"We’ve raised a number of concerns directly with auDA about what we considered to be inaccurate remarks comparing Neustar’s systems with the new registry and implying that the new registry will include 'all previous functionality plus enhanced security and authentication measures”, as stated in recent auDA Member communications, " Pongas said.

"We questioned auDA about this and were informed that the statement is comparing the various testing phases of Afilias’ Registry – so the latest version has 'all previous functionality' of the earlier versions.

"It doesn’t mean the registry will have 'all previous functionality' of Neustar’s platform – which we believe the statement implies. It is a fact that a number of the proprietary features and services that Neustar currently provides to registrars will no longer be available under the new Registry system, and thus Registrars will likely notice a difference."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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