What is the Handshake domain?
The Handshake domain is a naming protocol that is built on blockchain technology and has a decentralized mode of operation. It is an experimental peer-to-peer system that allows each user to validate and manage their root domain. This creates an alternative to existing certificates and a means of evading centralized bodies that control the registration and management of top-level domains (TLDs) like .com, .org, .net, etc.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the central body that oversees the application process for acquiring TLDs. Application for these top-level domains is usually time-consuming and extremely expensive because only a limited number of slots are available. However, the Handshake naming system (HNS) streamlines this procedure by enabling an unrestricted acquisition. It also provides a higher level of security and privacy because data stored on its system remains encrypted.
The handshake network is currently at the forefront of web 3.0 and the decentralized web system. Even though this concept of decentralization is still at its early stage, the progress so far has been impressive. Other popular naming protocols such as Ethereum and unstoppable domain have also been making quite some efforts towards a more decentralized web system. However, handshake functions more broadly in that it is available for anyone seeking a decentralized naming and certificate authority solution. On the other hand, Ethereum and unstoppable domains are more localized to owners of crypto assets. They also do not appear to be a real challenge or alternative to a central body like ICAN. This is because they only operate at the second level in the domain hierarchy.
The domain hierarchy is a system that classifies the different parts of a domain according to their level of importance. The highest part in the hierarchy is the root-level domain, followed by the top-level, second-level, and domain names in order of superiority. In the conventional web system, ICAN operates at the highest level, which gives it total authority over every domain. Application for a Top-Level Domain usually requires a $200,000 fee paid to ICANN, which may or may not be approved.
However, with the handshake protocol, a more decentralized alternative to ICANN is made available because they function as a root-level server. This will completely revolutionize the domain name system in that everyone will have the opportunity to acquire a top-level domain through an auction-based system. However, with ethereum and unstoppable domains, it is a different approach because they only operate at the second level of the domain hierarchy. Even though they are blockchain-based, this is a limitation on the entire concept of decentralization.
Handshake Domain Features
Handshake domains replace ICANN’s role as the principal authority for issuing and administering top-level domains with an open auction system based on blockchain technology. It creates a distributed and decentralized system that anybody can use. Here are some more features of the technology:
It needs no formal foundation, committee, corporation, or other entity to be permanently in charge of the protocol. As a result, authority and control are not centralized, allowing for greater freedom and privacy.
Area of the low worldwide agreement
Decentralization works best when there aren’t many issues on which we can’t agree. One of the few (if not the only) areas of universal agreement for a decentralized web includes names and signing certificates, and Handshake ensures that agreements are reached using the software.
With economic incentives, decentralized agreements can be formed through an open-name auction. Without this structure, a single person can register and own multiple domain names, resulting in a Sybil attack, in which an individual creates multiple identities to gain an advantage in a peer-to-peer network.
Each participant can host and act as a validator for the distributed, unauthorized zone file, which removes the need for a central control point.
How is Handshake an Improvement to the Traditional Domain
Handshake domains offer a decentralized network-based alternative to regular domains, which have historically served as the only source of trust for protecting the internet. The following are benefits of the Handshake domain over conventional domains;
The traditional domain name system requires Certificate Authorities (CA) to check and authenticate websites. On the other hand, the Handshake system uses the blockchain protocol, which preserves all digital records of transactions to construct a tamper-proof activity. All data remains unchanged within the blockchain and is independently validated by all parties.
Unlike traditional domains, where the domain naming system is constrained, the Handshake domain permits trademark owners to create more unique domain names using any name or character of their choice.
Domain name ownership
Full domain name ownership is granted to an owner upon acquisition, whether through bidding or registration. Owning a domain name gives users access to the TLD and the SLD (second-level domain), thereby giving them complete control over the registered name.
No yearly payment
Handshake Domains allows access to the domains with a biannual payment method instead of renting a limited number of TLDs that require an annual payment to keep them.
The blockchain system used in Handshake domains ensures that all data is secured and only accessible by its owners or managers. This contrasts with the traditional domain system, where a third party is given data access.
How to Access Handshake Domains
The introduction of the Handshake domain changes the landscape of the internet. Moreover, the technology is still in its early stages; therefore, it requires special configurations to access it with a conventional browser. However, you can access a handshake domain through NextDNS.io, Fingertip, and HNSD. HND is an authoritative domain resolver that receives data directly from the blockchain.
Fingertip is also quite similar in its mode of operation in that it is very secure, privacy-focused, and also reads directly from the blockchain to resolve Handshake domains. On the other hand, NextDNS.io supports various domain initiatives, including Handshake, and provides free and paid solutions. You can also access handshake domains using VPN, HNS.to, browser add-ons, and so on.
Registering a Handshake Domain
Depending on the domain level required, you can register a handshake domain through Namecheap or by using a Bob Wallet. Bob Wallet is a graphical user interface for domain record management and name auctions on Handshake. Using a Bob wallet, you can use the Handshake coin to register, update, and transfer internet domains on Handshake. This coin can also be used for top-level domain auctions and bidding. Namecheap and Namebase are other domain registrars that allow users to register a Handshake domain.
Even though this concept of decentralization is still at its early stage, with Handshake, the progress so far has been impressive. ICANN may have to eventually consider the idea of a more decentralized service for domain names.