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Published June 21, 2024

Domain Name Terms 101: Key Organizations, Protocols and Internet Security

Understanding The Basics Of Internet Infrastructure

In this article, we’ll go over some of the key organizations that help with running internet infrastructure, governing of it, and key terms used to describe different components of domains and the infrastructure. Whether you are new or you need to refresh some basic understanding, this will give you the fundamental knowledge that you need to understand domains and the internet.

Organizations and Protocols

  • ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers): A non-profit organization responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the internet, ensuring that each domain name is unique and properly registered.
  • IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority): A department within ICANN that oversees IP address allocation, DNS root zone management, and other critical internet infrastructure assignments.
  • RFC (Request for Comments): A formal document from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and other bodies that describes the specifications, protocols, procedures, and policies used in the internet and computer networks.
  • IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force): An open standards organization responsible for the development and promotion of voluntary internet standards and protocols, particularly the TCP/IP protocol suite.
  • W3C (World Wide Web Consortium): An international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.

Domain Name System (DNS)

  • DNS (Domain Name System): The phonebook of the internet, translating human-friendly domain names into IP addresses that computers use to identify each other on the network.
  • DNS Hijacking: A malicious attack where the attacker redirects queries from a legitimate DNS server to a rogue server, potentially leading to phishing sites or unwanted advertisements.
  • DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions): A suite of extensions that add security to the DNS protocol by enabling DNS responses to be verified.
  • DNS Cache: A temporary database maintained by a computer’s operating system that contains records of all recent visits and attempted visits to websites and other internet domains.
  • DNS Resolver: A server on the internet that converts domain names into IP addresses, enabling browsers to load internet resources.
  • Root Nameserver: A critical part of the DNS infrastructure that responds to requests for records in the root zone and directs these requests to appropriate TLD nameservers.
  • Zone File: A text file that describes a DNS zone, containing mappings between domain names and IP addresses and other resources.

Types of Domains

  • TLD (Top-Level Domain): The last segment of a domain name, following the final dot. Examples include .com, .org, and .net.
  • gTLD (Generic Top-Level Domain): Domains not associated with any specific country, such as .com, .org, and .net.
  • ccTLD (Country Code Top-Level Domain): Two-letter domains specifically reserved for a country or territory, such as .uk for the United Kingdom or .jp for Japan.
  • sTLD (Sponsored Top-Level Domain): A specialized TLD that has a sponsor representing a specific community that the TLD serves, such as .edu for educational institutions.
  • nTLD (New Top-Level Domain): A newly created TLD that expands beyond the traditional ones, such as .app, .blog, and .shop.
  • SLD (Second-Level Domain): The part of a domain name that is directly to the left of the TLD. For example, in example.com, example is the SLD.
  • Third-Level Domain: Also known as a subdomain, this is the part of a domain name that appears before the second-level domain. For example, in blog.example.com, blog is the third-level domain. Third-level domains are used to organize and manage different sections or services of a website, such as support.example.com for support pages or store.example.com for an online store.
  • IDN (Internationalized Domain Name): A domain name that contains at least one label displayed in software applications, in whole or in part, in a language-specific script or alphabet, such as Arabic, Chinese, or Cyrillic.

IP Addresses

  • IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4): An IP address format consisting of four sets of numbers separated by periods (e.g.,
  • IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6): An IP address format consisting of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits, designed to replace IPv4 (e.g., 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334).
  • A public DNS resolver operated by Cloudflare in partnership with APNIC, known for its speed and privacy-conscious service.
  • Static IP Address: An IP address that does not change and is permanently assigned to a device or domain.
  • Dynamic IP Address: An IP address that can change and is assigned to a device each time it connects to the internet.
  • NAT (Network Address Translation): A method used by routers to translate a public IP address into a private IP address and vice versa, facilitating the conservation of the limited pool of IP addresses.
  • Subnet Mask: A 32-bit number that divides an IP address into network and host parts, used to manage network traffic and increase security.

Internet Security

  • VPN (Virtual Private Network): Extends a private network across a public network, enhancing security and privacy online.
  • Proxy: An intermediary server separating end users from the websites they browse, used to hide IP addresses, access blocked sites, and improve internet speed and security.
  • SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer / Transport Layer Security): Protocols for encrypting information sent over the internet, providing security and data integrity.
  • Firewalls: Network security systems that monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
  • DNS over HTTPS (DoH): A protocol for performing remote DNS resolution via the HTTPS protocol, increasing privacy and security.
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): An additional layer of security for online accounts, requiring not only a password and username but also something that only the user has on them, i.e., a piece of information only they should know or have immediately to hand, such as a physical token.

Domain Management

  • Registrar: An organization that manages the reservation of internet domain names.
  • Registry: An organization responsible for maintaining the database of domain names for a particular TLD.
  • Reseller: A third-party company that purchases domain names from registrars and sells them to the end-users.
  • WHOIS Database: A publicly accessible database that lists the registered owners of domain names along with their contact information.
  • Name Record: Essential components of DNS that map domain names to IP addresses or other domain names.
    • CNAME (Canonical Name) Record: Maps an alias name to a true or canonical domain name.
    • A Record: Maps a domain to an IPv4 address.
    • AAAA Record: Maps a domain to an IPv6 address.
    • MX Record (Mail Exchange): Specifies mail servers for a domain.
    • TXT Record: Contains text information for various purposes.
    • PTR Record (Pointer Record): Used for reverse DNS lookups, mapping an IP address to a domain name.
    • NS Record (Name Server): Specifies the authoritative DNS server for a domain.

Dispute Resolution

  • UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy): A process established by ICANN for resolving disputes regarding the registration of internet domain names, primarily used to resolve cases of bad faith registration.
  • ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution): A set of procedures for settling disputes without litigation, including mediation and arbitration.
  • Trademark Clearinghouse: A centralized database of verified trademarks that helps protect trademark rights in the new gTLD program.

Additional Terms

  • WHOIS: A protocol used to query databases that store registered users or assignees of an internet resource, such as a domain name or IP address.
  • DNS Propagation: The process by which updates to a DNS record are spread across the internet, which can take up to 48 hours.
  • Parking Page: A placeholder webpage displayed when a domain name is registered but not yet developed into a full website.
  • Subdomain: A domain that is part of a larger domain, typically used to organize and navigate different sections of a website (e.g., blog.example.com).
  • Domain Lock: A security feature that prevents unauthorized transfers of your domain name.
  • WHOIS Privacy: A service provided by registrars to protect the personal information of domain registrants by replacing it with the registrar’s contact information in the WHOIS database.
  • Name Server: A server that translates domain names into IP addresses and directs traffic to the correct destination.
  • TTL (Time To Live): A value in a DNS record that specifies the duration in seconds that the record may be cached by a DNS resolver or another DNS server.
  • EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol): An XML-based protocol used for the registration and management of domain names and other internet resources.
  • Domain Forwarding: A service that directs your domain name to another domain or URL, often used for marketing or rebranding purposes.
  • Catch-All Email: An email address set up to receive any emails sent to incorrect or misspelled addresses for a given domain.


Grasping basic domain terms and internet infrastructure is crucial for everyone. This blog discusses the organizations, protocols, and terminologies that keep the internet running smoothly and securely. With this insight, you can navigate the internet more efficiently and with greater confidence.