Articles
November 11, 2022

What Is A Decentralized Domain Name?

What Is A Decentralized Domain Name?

The internet as we know it would be almost useless and next to impossible to navigate without domain names and the sophisticated domain name systems (DNS) used to register said domains.

Now, we’re moving into an era powered by blockchain technology, meaning decentralized domains will become the norm. Currently, the systems we use are centralized and prone to challenges such as widespread outages across the internet.

In this article, you’ll learn what blockchain domain names are, how they tackle the challenges we face, and the possible difficulties on the horizon should the world move to decentralized domains.

How Do Domain Names Work Currently?

Every website ever created has a domain name registered with a registrar. Who in turn work with registry operators. It’s a lengthy hierarchy that looks something like this:

Domain name

Domain registrar

Registry operators

DNS servers

IANA – Internet Assigned Numbers Authority

ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

This reads as an incredibly complicated hierarchy, and it is. However, it serves its purpose, and the internet is easily navigated thanks to the above system. What should be considered are the problems regularly encountered. The entire system hangs on the trust of registrars and registry operators. Criminals and hackers know this, meaning they’re often targets for attacks. Furthermore, with this centralized system, should a top-level DNS server go down a large portion of the internet goes down with it.

The Solution: Decentralized Domain Name Systems

Blockchain-based DNS servers or systems present a possible solution to the challenges faced currently. While it will take time for the technology to evolve and adoption to occur, understanding the positive impact of blockchain domain names and how they work will help you adapt to the next phase of internet usage.

So, how does the decentralized domain name service work?

Firstly, and most importantly, it’s designed to remove the dependence on a single or small group of bodies to maintain its existence. Currently, ICANN and domain registries are completely centralized. The introduction of blockchain technology makes this private database a public ledger, which is distributed across many computers in the network.

People are most familiar with blockchain for being a database of cryptocurrency transactions. However, it’s not inconceivable, nor hard to imagine, how this can be adapted to form a new decentralized and trustless DNS.

Just as no crypto transaction can ever be replicated or tampered with, once someone registers a domain name, no one else will be able to claim it unless it’s sold.

Does The Entire System Need Replacing?

The mission of blockchain domain names is to create a decentralized system so that only the centralized elements of the current process are being replaced. As it stands, much of the process is already decentralized – anyone can access cPanel and WHM. However, blockchain is being used to replace the centralized registers and overarching organization that manages the root zone file.

Why Do We Need A Decentralized Domain Name?

Shifting to a decentralized domain name model brings similar benefits to adopting cryptocurrency. It’s all about security, anonymity, and control.

Currently, to register a domain name, you have to provide personal information which is publicly accessible. With blockchain domain names, no private information is needed as you use a wallet address.

Currently, DNS is controlled by a central body, meaning it can be manipulated into censoring content on the internet. Therefore, governing bodies could control what information we see. With blockchain being a distributed ledger monitored by many computers, censorship becomes challenging.

The Challenges Faced By Decentralized Domains

After reading this, you’re probably wanting to make the switch to a decentralized domain name. However, in its current form, it wouldn’t be wise for anyone, particularly businesses, to make the move.

Adoption

As you might expect, we’re deeply entrenched in the centralized DNS system we currently use – you’re reading this information on that exact platform.

Users and businesses need to come together to drive the adoption of decentralized domains because, without both, the networks don’t really serve a purpose.

It takes a huge effort to reach the mass-adoption stage, and it could take years to come to fruition – if it ever does.

True Decentralization

Just because a platform is built using blockchain technology doesn’t make it decentralized. There are examples of Defi projects and cryptocurrencies that claim to be decentralized when in actuality they’re still owned and governed by a select few individuals.

Cryptocurrency exchanges are a great example of this. The centralized exchanges are the go-to option for new crypto investors, while the decentralized exchanges are reserved for more experienced cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

Potential Cost

Currently, the cost of a domain name is relatively cheap – unless someone is willing to buy one from you for a crazy price. This is because the system is centralized and has only a few people or companies involved. However, moving to a completely decentralized model will make things more expensive.

Many people and businesses may not see the added value in decentralization, meaning they’re unlikely to want to pay the additional costs that come with it.

In Summary

Decentralized domain names use the blockchain to power DNS systems, removing power from select governing bodies and bringing anonymity, security, and control to domain owners. Furthermore, it removes the potential for censorship and serious network outages.

There are challenges, meaning it could be years until you’re operating with a decentralized domain name. However, as blockchain technology becomes more widely used and accepted, it will only be a matter of time before cost comes down and the switch becomes seamless.

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