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The Domain Name System (DNS) is vital for access to information on the Web. It is thus a target for attackers trying to suppress free access to information. This talk introduces the design and implementation of the GNU Name System (GNS), a fully decentralized and censorship-resistant name system. GNS provides an privacy-enhancing alternative to DNS and existing public key infrastructures (such as X.509 certificate authorities), while giving users the desirable property of memorable names. The design of GNS incorporates the possibility of integration and coexistence with DNS.
GNS builds on ideas from the Simple Distributed Security Infrastructure (SDSI), addressing a central issue with the decentralized mapping of secure identifiers to memorable names: namely the impossibility of providing a global, secure and memorable mapping without a trusted authority, also known as Zooko's triangle. GNS uses the transitivity in the SDSI design to replace the trusted root with secure delegation of authority, thus making petnames useful to other users while operating under the strong adversary model assumed by Zooko.
In addition to describing the GNS design, this talk also discusses some of the mechanisms that are needed to smoothly integrate GNS with existing processes and procedures in Web browsers. Specifically, we show how GNS is able to transparently support many assumptions that the existing HTTP(S) infrastructure makes about globally unique names.