Naming the Internet with Namecoin

Namecoin is one of the many crypto-currencies circulating today. It acts as a preferred alternative decentralized DNS which allows it

Namecoin is one of the many crypto-currencies circulating today. It acts as a preferred alternative decentralized DNS which allows it to avoid domain name censorship by means of it creating a new top level domain that is not within the control of ICANN. As a result, this makes internet censorship much more difficult and reduces outages.

Namecoin uses code which is similar to that of the Bitcoin protocol but has been modified for this purpose. So too, Namecoin production and transfer is handled by a peer-to-peer system that is similar to that of Bitcoin. A proof-of-work system is used in which nodes search for a small enough hash value in a process called mining. When a small enough value is found, the node which found the hash is credited with a set number of Namecoins (50 NMC as of Nov 2013). The hash, along with any transactions or domain name registrations, is then added to a decentralized ledger called the block chain. After a number of hashes have been added to the block chain, all transactions and registrations are considered to be irreversible. A potential attacker would be forced to find a new set of hashes to replace all the preceding ones, something that is a near impossibility.

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Online, Namecoin uses the .bit domain name. The domain names are registered by paying a fee of 0.01 NMC. Once they are updated for the first time, the ownership of the domain has been secured. It can then only be revoked, removed, or transferred if the owner chooses to do so.

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Since .bit domains are not currently being assigned, one must have either a copy of the Namecoin “block chain” (a decentralized ledger storing all transactions and domains), or access to a public DNS server that participates in the Namecoin system in order to receive one. Nevertheless, since domains are very inexpensive to obtain with Namecoin, and registered domains cannot be seized, Namecoin has had problems with cybersquatters buying up domains and trying to resell them for a profit. So too, a major flaw in the Namecoin protocol was discovered which allowed users to steal domains from others. Solutions to this problem continue to be examined.


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Learn more about bitcoins and other digital currencies on the DC Magnates resource portal

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