By JOHN MARKOFF
Published: February 8, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 7 -- To keep up with the growing strains put on the
Internet by both legitimate users and online attackers, a Silicon Valley
company is undertaking a $100 million expansion of a crucial part of the
system that speeds Web users to their destinations.
The company, VeriSign, is a leader in networking infrastructure and
manages registration for the .com and .net Internet domains. It is among
the stewards of an international system of computer servers running
programs that translate domain names like google.com or wikipedia.org
into numeric addresses.
But the system is under increasing strain because of the explosion of
human and machine Internet users and because of occasional assaults by
automated software programs that threaten to overwhelm the ability to
respond to routine requests.
VeriSign executives said their expansion project, to be announced
Thursday, was crucial because of the increasing role that the Internet
plays in basic functions of modern life.
This isnt just about Web sites anymore, and its not about online
shopping, said Ken Silva, VeriSigns chief security officer. Its about
the way humans communicate and the way everything is interconnected.
The potential challenge was underscored on Tuesday when an automated
attack against the domain name system was carried out for several hours
by a distributed computer program known as a botnet.
The attack initially affected all of the 13 root server systems the top
level of the hierarchy of interconnected computers and then focused for
several hours on servers operated by the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization responsible for the
Internet address system, and the Pentagon.
The attack impeded but did not halt any of the systems, according to
several of the operators.
Such attacks make expansion of the name server systems crucial, Mr.
Silva said. The VeriSign project, to be completed by 2010, will offer a
tenfold increase in the capacity of two root servers that the company
operates and of the infrastructure that supports the .com and .net
VeriSign servers, now in 20 regional centers around the world, will be
expanded to 70 sites. The effort would not only improve response time,
the company said, but would also make it possible to diagnose and
contain Internet attacks more quickly.
VeriSign profits indirectly from the growth of Internet traffic from its
business managing the .com and .net domains.
In addition to resisting cyber attacks, the enhancement of the root
server system is made necessary by the rapid growth in new types of
Internet devices, many of which can communicate among themselves without
direct human intervention.
The company said it expected the number of Internet users to grow from
one billion today to 1.8 billion in 2010. Many will reach the Internet
with multiple devices, including cellphones, most of which are expected
to be Internet-enabled.
Copyright 2007 - The New York Times Company
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