India could potentially get a server cluster reflecting the world’s 13 root servers after “significant negotiations” with ICANN, the organization that carries out key Internet functions, the director general of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) said. -In). he reported to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in March 2023.
If the efforts are successful, this will be the first time India will have a cluster that mirrors the 13 root servers that underpin the Internet.
The petition was mentioned in a report on combating global terrorism at regional and international levels tabled in Lok Sabha on February 5 by the committee, which had asked about the outcome of negotiations with ICANN to have Internet root servers in India. .
According to Sanjay Bahl, CEO of CERT-In, responded: “We had an important negotiation about the root server. They have agreed to form a group. We are negotiating with them… Probably, we will get a cluster of 18 servers which will now be located somewhere in India. “That’s a good start.”
ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is a US-based nonprofit organization that plays a crucial role in the management and coordination of the global Internet domain name system (DNS). and the assignment of IP addresses.
An ICANN executive confirmed the discussions. “ICANN is evaluating the technical and regulatory feasibility of installing a[n] ICANN India Managed Root Server (IMRS) Cluster,” said Samiran Gupta, Vice President, Government and Intergovernmental Organization Engagement, Asia Pacific and Stakeholder Engagement, South Asia, in response to HT.
It is understood that no other root server operators other than ICANN have established root server clusters anywhere in the world.
“IMRS groups are currently located in Singapore, Europe, the United States, Egypt and Kenya,” added Gupta.
Simply put, having a cluster of root servers will help reduce latency (a delay that occurs when information and data flow through the Internet infrastructure), manage Internet traffic, and reduce the efficiency of a common type of cyber attack known as DDoS (distributed denial of access). service).
In reality, the process will involve creating a group of 13 servers that mirror each of the 13 root servers around the world. ICANN itself runs the L root server, one of 13, each of which is given a letter name from ‘A’ to ‘M’. There are 12 organizations, including ICANN, around the world that run the 13 root servers. Of them, ten are in the United States, two in Europe and one in Japan.
Technically, root servers validate what is called a top-level domain (TLD), such as .com, .edu, .org, etc. for each query on the Internet. Effectively, all of the world’s Internet traffic flows through one of 13 root servers.
India, no doubt, has some mirrors (also called instances) of one or the other root server.
It was not immediately clear why India would get a cluster of 18 servers – as Bahl is quoted in the committee report – when there are only 13 root servers in the world. It is understood that the costs will be borne by ICANN.
“Looking at the way India is developing (our digital systems, internet, 5G, telecom, digital infrastructure, etc.), they are now looking at India and cannot ignore it. We are now negotiating with a bit of force and we are hopeful that we can get some part of the process underway. We are hoping to seek some form of board level position at the next Annual General Meeting. [annual general meeting], which will likely take place early next year. So let’s go in that direction. That’s important,” Bahl said.
Dr Gulshan Rai, founding CEO of CERT-In and India’s first National Cyber Security Coordinator, told HT that getting these instances is a good thing. “This is good because a lot of traffic can be routed through these instances. There is no need for traffic to be routed out of India.”
“This is a positive development. While India already has root server instances, it is always good to have more IMRS clusters within the country as it helps reduce latency, increases the resilience of the Internet in the country and facilitates better management of the load on the root servers,” Amrita Choudhary, director, Cyber Cafe Association of India (CCAOI), said.
Following the talks in March 2023, the creation of this cluster is a priority for ICANN. It is unclear why the delay occurred. The configuration of servers, especially Internet traffic routing servers, would be regulated by current laws and, in 2023, two new laws that will affect the installation of servers in the country: the Digital Personal Data Protection Act of 2023 and the Telecommunications Law of 2023. – were notified.
How will this cluster work?
Gupta explained that ICANN implements two types of instances/servers: ‘single’ and ‘cluster’.
“An IMRS cluster is a large multi-server installation with substantial bandwidth that has a large DNS service capacity. Typically, a region is tasked with dealing with sustained high loads of DNS queries or spikes in non-DNS traffic directed to the root server system. “This is in contrast to ‘one-off’ instances of IMRS that focus on improving root zone DNS service for specific networks or locations,” he said.
In other words, while a single ICANN root server instance will likely mirror server L, a cluster would mirror all 13, A to M.
While before there was a substantial difference between letter root servers and their “mirrors” around the world, now there is not much difference, since the original and the “instance” are the same.
“As of February 2022, there are more than 195 cases of IMRS in 85 different countries/territories. There are currently six ‘single’ instances of IMRS implemented in India. We believe there are more than 40 root server instances in India deployed by different root server operators. The ICANN org can only approve IMRS instances and clusters,” said Gupta.
According to root-servers.org, there are 7 instances of six root servers in Delhi alone.
There were two such servers in India in 2011-12, Rai said, when, as director of CERT-In, he was requesting a root server in India.