SecurityBrief NZ - Government focuses on domain name security

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Government focuses on domain name security

Government improves domain name security

The Government is focusing on domain name security, with the Department of Internal Affairs making changes to how it manages government website domain names.

The changes will increase online security and result in greater public trust in government websites, the department says.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the global network of computers responsible for translating domain names like dia.govt.nz into a location on the internet.

DIA’s Government Information Services group (GIS) hosts the domain name records associated with many of the .govt.nz domain names. In addition to this DNS service, GIS offers a portfolio of products and services aimed at delivering trusted government information to improve public services and raise digital capability throughout the sector.

Recent upgrades to DIA’s government DNS service include the addition of a set of security extensions called DNSSEC. The move is being applauded by the .nz Domain Name Commission and domain name operator NZRS.

Barry Brailey, DNCL manager of Security Policy, says with the new security extensions, web browsers can now confirm that the website a user is looking for is the correct one and not an imposter website.

“By securing .govt.nz with DNSSEC, DIA is demonstrating its commitment to New Zealanders’ online security and helping to improve how New Zealand is viewed from a cyber security perspective,” Brailey says.

Laura Sommer, acting general manager for GIS, says online security is a high-profile issue in New Zealand.

“People want websites that are safe and trusted,” she says.

Only .govt.nz (and .parliament.nz) domain names using the government’s DNS infrastructure are automatically protected with DNSSEC. Remaining government agencies who do not currently use this system are being encouraged to switch from their existing providers so they can take advantage of the improved security.

Jay Daley, chief executive of NZRS adds, “We hope this is a trigger for internet service providers who are yet to support DNSSEC, to add that support soon so that all Internet users can benefit from the added security and show government that the entire Internet industry is behind cyber security initiatives,” he explains.

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