Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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Introducing the DNS Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group

Attacks on the Domain Name System (DNS) rarely impact only one actor in the Internet ecosystem. With significant recent attacks such as the Sea Turtle hijacking and the DNSpionage, ICANN community saw an urgent need to come together and respond. The exact solution, or group of solutions, which would best improve the security and stability of the DNS ecosystem are not yet clear. What is clear, however, is that a new level of collaboration and understanding is required.

In alignment with the FY21-FY25 Strategic Plan, the ICANN organisation plans to work with stakeholders to investigate mechanisms which will strengthen collaboration and communication on security and stability issues. To begin this effort, Göran Marby, ICANN President & CEO was pleased to introduce the DNS Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group. This Technical Study Group will explore ideas around what ICANN can and should be doing to increase the level of collaboration and engagement with DNS ecosystem stakeholders to improve the security profile for the DNS. The group aims to recommend next steps by May 2021.

Merike Käo, Security & Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) Liaison to the ICANN Board and Chief Security Strategist for Double Shot Security, has agreed to serve as coordinator for the DNS Security Facilitation Initiative Technical Study Group. She is well-qualified for the role, having more than 25 years of experience in leading and developing global security initiatives and enabling interdisciplinary cooperation.

The Technical Study Group will be made up of invited members with expertise in handling emergency response coordination, DNS security, large-scale DNS operations, network architecture and design, DNS policy, and more. This group is being supported by members of the ICANN org.

Over the next few weeks, the composition of the group will be finalized, and they will begin the work of creating the charter. Merike will share an update once this planning phase has been completed.


Safeguarding the Domain Name System During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. It translates domain names (website addresses) to the numerical IP addresses needed to locate and identify computer services and devices with the underlying network protocols. It can be referred to as the Internet’s “phone book”. The Internet depends critically on the integrity and security of the DNS.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused social and economic lockdown in almost all countries and continents. It is imperative that people remain connected via the internet during this time as many businesses have moved to rendering online services. Millions of people carry out even the simplest transactions online. The internet is also a major source of up-to-date information regarding the pandemic, the world’s response, economies and global markets. Education has moved online, with institutions of learning at all levels connecting with their student bodies via a wide range of applications. Staying at home for this prolonged period has also meant that people spend much more time seeking entertainment. The internet provides many options for sports, news, movies, documentaries etc.

Unfortunately, there are individuals who are taking advantage of the situation to perpetuate internet fraud and also spread fake news. There are adverts for fake COVID-19 vaccines, test kits and cures on the internet. Other criminals are using domain names to launch cyber-attacks on so many levels. 

The security and integrity of the DNS have always been of utmost importance to the Internet community. It is even more important at this time when people’s reliance on the internet has increased. NiRA notes the efforts of stakeholders, coordinated by the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN’s Security, Stability, and Resiliency Team (SSR) for example are doing a commendable job on domain names registered around the COVID-19 pandemic for abusive/misused purposes. ICANN has also set up the COVID-19 Cyber Threat Coalition (CTC). The CTC is a global volunteer organization composed of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Registries, Registrars, Security Experts, Law Enforcement, Internet Engineers and others. The CTC’s mission is to operate the largest professional-quality threat lab in the history of cybersecurity out of donated cloud infrastructure and with rapidly assembled teams of diverse, cross-geography, cross-industry threat researchers.

Registries and Registrars can play their part in curbing internet fraud, particularly related to COVID-19 at this time by ensuring all registered domains that purport to sell/coordinate COVID-19 related supplies have proof of legitimacy and authorization to sell/coordinate from the appropriate regulatory bodies. Individuals are also encouraged to report suspicious websites selling alleged COVID-19 vaccines and cures to the appropriate authorities. It is very important that all of us support all efforts in ensuring that the world can safely focus on combating the spread of this pandemic without the intrusion of online criminals.



It is very depressing that COVID-19 is still raging and lives are being lost to the pandemic. We are also encouraged by the numbers that are recovering from the COVID-19 virus. We appreciate all the work that is being done to curtail the virus, as well as the giant strides in the production of a vaccine against it. The world owes a debt of gratitude to the men and women in the frontlines who are fighting hard; doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, policemen, volunteers and many others.

Nigeria, like other countries, has some major cities on lockdown. This has forced organisations to take their business online. Whether it is financial transactions, technical support requests or board meetings, online meeting platforms have become imperative for businesses to continue to thrive.

Many events that would have entailed gathering of many people in a single space have either been cancelled outright, postponed or moved online. The ICANN68 Public Meeting will be held online. The 2020 NiRA AGM and CPN 2020 IT Assembly/26th AGM, slated for April 2020, have been postponed. The Africa Internet Summit 2020 slated from 31st May to 12th June 2020 has been postponed. The postponements of these events are for the safety of the participants, organisers and service providers. We have also noted that decisions are yet to be taken on many events for the third and fourth quarters of the year 2020. It is understandable as organisations are keeping a close watch on the unfolding of the development of COVID-19 pandemic.

We are also witnessing many virtual meetings and webinars, teaching, enlightening people and businesses on how to conduct and attend virtual meetings; how to keep their businesses running and operational; how to maintain good health and one’s wellbeing during the lockdown. We have seen more educational programmes for children and those at school, virtual classrooms.

As company communication goes completely virtual during the lockdown, the need to secure those transmissions have become even more imperative. The last two weeks have seen the major online conferencing application, ZOOM, make some significant improvements to secure its platform after reports of imposters hacking into meetings. It is pertinent to congratulate ZOOM on its quick response to those incidents, and the modification of settings on the application such that meetings are now compulsorily accessed with a password, and the waiting rooms which used to be an option for meetings, is no longer optional.

I wish to encourage all to continue to find affordable, efficient but most importantly, secure ways to conduct businesses virtually. We recognise the tough calls organisations are having to make at this time, and appreciate the efforts of all, including NiRA Service Providers who are keeping their lights on.

The operations of the .ng registry are running and the team is available to continue to support everyone whose business is online, on the .ng platform. The NiRA Accredited Registrars are available to provide all required support;  do make use of all provided support platforms as required.  Visit the website of all the NiRA Accredited Registrars. You can obtain the list of all NiRA Accredited Registrars via the link

On Monday, the 13th April 2020, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in his national broadcast announced the extension of the lockdown in some states in Nigeria for further 14 days. We advise all to take note of the address of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, presented on the 13th April 2020 and do the needful; adhere to the guidelines and advice from/by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

Do reference the website of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC),  for all updates and clarity on the guidelines/press releases from NCDC. These updates include safety measures, COVID-19 Regulations 2020, Self-Isolation Guide, etc. It is important we all keep safe.


Muhammed Rudman

President, NiRA