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A Censorship-Resistant, Privacy-Enhancing and Fully Decentralized Name System

TitleA Censorship-Resistant, Privacy-Enhancing and Fully Decentralized Name System
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWachs, M, Schanzenbach, M, Grothoff, C
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Conference NameInternational Conference on Cryptology and Network Security (CANS)
PublisherSpringer Verlag
KeywordsDNS, GNU Name System, GNUnet, PKI

The Domain Name System (DNS) is vital for access to information on the Internet. This makes it a target for attackers whose aim is to suppress free access to information. This paper introduces the design and implementation of the GNU Name System (GNS), a fully decentralized and censorship-resistant name system. GNS provides a privacy-enhancing alternative to DNS which preserves the desirable property of memorable names. Due to its design, it can also double as a partial replacement of public key infrastructures, such as X.509. The design of GNS incorporates the capability to integrate and coexist with DNS. GNS is based on the principle of a petname system and builds on ideas from the Simple Distributed Security Infrastructure (SDSI), addressing a central issue with the decentralized mapping of secure identifiers to memorable names: namely the impossibility of providing a global, secure and memorable mapping without a trusted authority. GNS uses the transitivity in the SDSI design to replace the trusted root with secure delegation of authority, thus making petnames useful to other users while operating under a very strong adversary model. In addition to describing the GNS design, we also discuss some of the mechanisms that are needed to smoothly integrate GNS with existing processes and procedures in Web browsers. Specifically, we show how GNS is able to transparently support many assumptions that the existing HTTP(S) infrastructure makes about globally unique names.

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