Trusted key representatives capture media imaginations


DNSSEC doesn’t typically spur flights of fancy.  But this week, trusted key representatives–individuals selected to hold parts of the DNSSEC root key during recent key signing key ceremonies held by ICANN in preparation for signing the root zone–have sparked the imaginations of both high-tech and popular media. Here’s a roundup of recent coverage focusing on the individuals that hold the keys:

  • PopSci notes “We’re imagining a large medieval chamber filled with techno-religious imagery where these knights cyber must simultaneously turn hybrid thumb drive/skeleton keys in a massive router, filling the room with the blinking light of connectivity….In reality, it’s not so dramatic. The keys are actually smartcards that each contain parts of the DNSSEC root key, which could be thought of as the master key to the whole scheme. But it is interesting to know that there is a group of individuals out there that hold actual, physical keys that would reboot the Internet as we know it.”  The article points to this Community DNS video explaining how the keys are made; CDNS CEO Paul Kane is one of the key holders.
  • Gawker pictures it this way: “This is what happens when you let nerds run everything: The whole world turns into an extended Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Seven specially-chosen people are now members of a “chain of trust”; in the event of a catastrophe—like a terrorist attack, or Saruman joining forces with Sauron, or Barack Obama turning off the whole internet—five members of The Fellowship of the Internet must meet in a secure location ‘to recover the master key’ and summon Captain Planet .”  The article goes on to name the seven “keymasters” and describe the process, but notes, “it’s more fun to pretend the other stuff.”
  • The Next Web called the group “the real-life Fellowship of the Ring that can ‘reboot’ the Internet” and notes, “Unlike the Fellowship of the Ring, there’s a backup plan. If the keyholders can’t travel to the location required in the event of a major incident, a set of keycards are securely held on site.”
  • Mainstream media BBC and the Bath Chronicle played it straight, profiling Kane as one who holds “the keys to the Internet.”
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