Blockchain Domains

Blockchain Domain Background

What are Blockchain Domains?

Blockchain domains differ from regular, traditional domains in several important ways. Blockchain domains are an exciting development in the decentralized world.
Whereas traditional domains are typically fairly one dimensional and serve a few narrow purposes, blockchain domains come with much more scope for interaction and tinkering.

Blockchain domains aren’t stored on a server. They’re held in the public registry, on publicly accessible blockchains. This means anyone can look at the records, providing an impressive level of openness and transparency. On top of that, users can benefit from enhanced security — each user holds the permissions to make updates to their domain name, which minimizes worries about servers getting hacked or domain names getting stolen.

Blockchain Domain History

Naming + Currency: From Namecoin to Bitmark & Namecoin to I0C, IXC, and BTC

Namecoin, one of the first attempts at decentralizing dns was established in April 2011, is often thought of incorrectly as an altcoin. In a traditional and modern sense, altcoins should be thought of as alternative currencies. Namecoin is not trying to be a currency, as the official website states: . The Namecoin codebase consists of the Bitcoin codebase with relatively minor changes (~400 lines) and additional functionality built on top on it. The most important function of a Namecoin on-top of Bitcoin protocol. If enforced, the unspent outputs from “guessing the nonce” would reorganize the entire Bitcoin blockchain if a correct nonce was found.

Blockstack: A decentralized naming and Storage system using blockchain

Blockstack has been pioneering in the DApp space for quite some time and have been using blockchains to build a DNS equivalent and a PKI/CA equivalent, without relying on root servers or central authorities. The idea is the web in its current form consists of thin protocols like TCP/IP and fat applications like facebook and google.

Note: Though Blockstack were early to the blockhain-based dns space, they have since shifted focus more decentralized application (dapp) and defi layers of the stack.

Key points;

  • Blockchain and token mechanisms can incentivize creation of fat protocols in a decentralized network — where the data is captured in the fat protocol layer itself.
  • Blockstack has been pioneering in the DApp space for quite some time and have been using blockchains to build a DNS equivalent and a PKI/CA equivalent, without relying on root servers or central authorities.
  • The landgrab that happens for popular domain names on DNS, can be prevented in Blockstack naming system by using smart pricing functions. For example, DNS state machine can be different than Identity state machine.


The Future of Decentralized Domains

The Case for Handshake

The Handshake blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and public blockchain. As a result, the Handshake network will be able to provide a global list of top-level domain names. This list will be used by major websites to securely connect their users to their websites and services.

Key points:

  • Handshake works seamlessly with the existing DNS system.
  • Handshake domain names are secured by the Handshake blockchain itself, not by a centralized organization or the government.
  • Handshake is public blockchain that will serve as a global list of top-level domain names.

Learn HNS

A curated collection of Handshake protocol links and educational materials

Everything You Didn’t Know About Handshake

Many fail to realize that DNS is already decentralized, with the exception of a single, critical component, of which trust is centralized: the root zone, or simply, a collection of top level domains (TLDs). And this trust anchor is kept by a small federation of authoritative bodies, where ICANN is currently the ultimate authority. Handshake is a project that intends to disintermediate the role of ICANN and, in its place, applies a decentralized blockchain using cryptographic signatures produced by Proof-of-Work to operate this integral piece of infrastructure to maintain the very security of the Internet itself.

Key takeaways:

  • Handshake, despite popular misconception, is not a blockchain project that seeks to decentralize existing DNS infrastructure in its entirety.
  • Handshake is a project that intends to disintermediate the role of ICANN and, in its place, applies a decentralized blockchain using cryptographic signatures produced by Proof-of-Work to operate this integral piece of infrastructure to maintain the very security of the Internet itself.
“The Handshake naming protocol differs from its predecessors in that it has no concept of namespacing or subdomains at the consensus layer. Its purpose is currently not to replace all of DNS, but to replace the root zone file and the root servers.”



Critiques of blockchain domains

DNS needs more than a blockchain

While Handshake is a decentralized certificate authority (CDN) system that can be used to secure top-level domains. Namebase is a combination of Coinbase and GoDaddy, offering users an easy-to-use interface to exchange Handshake coins so they can acquire Handshake domains. The average winning bid for a Handshake domain was about $87, compared to the $200,000 application fee ICANN charges for a TLD.

Key points:

  • Handshake says instead of using these certificate authorities, you can use a protocol to shift the trust to a distributed system backed by a blockchain.
  • Certificate authorities are vulnerable to hacking and getting compromised, which means they are a one-of-many system.
  • Handshake top-level domains work with DNS resolvers.
  • It also provides Handshake’s auction based system, allowing users to bid and register Handshake top-level domains.
Adam Breckler

Adam Breckler

Working on something new. Previously: Founder @ Prism.io, Co-Founder & Head of Product at Visual.ly. Sometimes investor and advisor to early-stage startups.