Internet Fire Brigade Society
The Internet Fire Brigade Society (the 'Nonprofit') seeks to advance the public interest by facilitating collaboration and initiatives to strengthen the global Internet framework, making it safer and more reliable. In the long run, the Nonprofit hopes to coordinate large scale security responses to evolving Internet threats where extensive cross-organization collaboration is required, and at no cost to the general public. The Nonprofit also seeks to raise awareness and educate Internet constituents regarding Internet threats and how to mitigate issues.
The initial focus of the Nonprofit will be in building a DNS Transparency project. The Domain Name System (DNS) enables Internet connected devices to look up information such as the IP address for a given domain name (website address, e.g. irs.gov), which is subsequently used to establish a connection from one system to another on the Internet. Unauthorized changes to domains may be published into the DNS, negatively impacting Internet service providers and consumers (which can be any party connected to the Internet). Impacts have included the subversion of secure communications, diverting Internet traffic to the wrong systems, and/or denial of service that renders a website nonfunctional. As an example, if you were to connect to www.mybank.com, and the domain/address now points to servers operated by an attacker, your communications, credentials and/or banking
information may be exposed to a third party. Because of the rates at which Internet traffic occurs, an abnormality in DNS routing over even a short period of time could result in huge numbers of people in the general public being negatively affected.
To ensure that pieces of the DNS are not tampered with, cybersecurity companies, DNS providers and other critical components of the Internet will often monitor the DNS to ensure that certain Internet connections are functioning as expected. This method of monitoring is typically called 'pull' based monitoring because the interested party must take proactive steps to identify and seek out relevant information and then review it. Pull-based monitoring is sub-optimal in this situation because it is neither continuous nor resource efficient.
As the Internet powers more and more critical infrastructure, such as emergency, communications and utility systems, the importance of the health of DNS infrastructure has grown significantly. Because of DNS' importance, it is also a frequent target for malicious actors. Both domain holders and Internet consumers are impacted when the DNS is compromised, which in turn undermines the reliability of the Internet as a whole. The decentralized nature of Internet infrastructure providers adds a force multiplier to this problem. While the Internet may seem monolithic to the average person, responsibility over core systems like DNS is typically decentralized and fragmented. The burden is on individual parties, such as a critical Internet infrastructure provider or website owner, to 'pull' the data, review it, and then act on it appropriately. The current way in which the Internet operates lacks any means to, for example, permit a website owner to sufficiently verify the intended DNS configuration is in place and unaltered, short of an almost-constant and often laborious process of pulling and reviewing data. These individual stakeholders also have varying levels of sophistication and intention toward the greater good of others.
The DNS Transparency project would, for the first time to our knowledge, comprise an initiative that proactively communicates real-time changes in the global DNS to interested parties by 'pushing' those changes out as soon as possible. At the same time, the DNS Transparency project would be a standout initiative in its focus on educating the general public about DNS-related risks and harms and what can be done to improve their security posture. This increases transparency and confidence in the domain name system and helps protect the countless people who rely upon the Internet every day. Because this is an objective that is targeted toward the greater good and not a profit motive, the nonprofit structure is the most appropriate body for owning such a project, including its valuable intellectual property and other assets, in trust for the good of society and the greater Internet ecosystem and not any individual or private interest.