Kenyan Domain Loses Bragging Rights

When you think of technology development in East Africa, you think of Nairobi as the hub, the lead city. Internationally, this is the case, the PR and hype we have done is great, it makes Nairobi as the first stop for investors, techprenuers, idlers, graduates, those with companies that have failed elsewhere, venture capitalists and tech writers among others.

Truth is, Nairobi is great place; for both locals and international experts. I am sure travel blogs have listed all these issues, so I will not bore you with the details, i will just bore you with details of other kind 🙂

Last week, I wrote an article on how DNS Security Extension has been implemented in the region. In east Africa, Uganda and Tanzania lead the way, Kenya is nowhere near there. If interested, you can read more about DNSSEC from ISOC and a report by ICANN showing all the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) that have implemented.

“The DNS is the phone book of the internet, translating names that people can remember into numbers that computer networks require in order to communicate. DNSSEC is a set of security protocols that fix fundamental vulnerabilities in the DNS. 

With DNSSEC, internet users know for sure that their web and email communications reach the server that they intended, and are not hijacked by an attacker to steal personal or confidential information.”- Secure64

DNSSEC became more popular in 2008 when Dan Kaminsky found a vulnerability on the DNS, some ISPs in Kenya were affected, and this improved the level of awareness as well as implementation.

DNSSEC secures against identity theft, online fraud, domain hijacking etc. Remember the time some Kenyan bank websites had been hijacked and were redirecting elsewhere? Imagine if online banking has grown that much in Kenya, the way mobile money has, it would have been a different story.

So what?

Globally, implementation is still slow but it was expected that countries with fewer domains, like the ones in Africa, would be quick to implement but so far, only about five countries have implemented, and two of them are in East Africa.

Just a bit of history, Kenya was the first country in the region to get back its .ke domain, in a process known as redelegation, it was also the first country to set up its domain registry, Brazil was instrumental in training the first registry admin, around 2003 or there a bouts. The other countries set up their registries later.

For the longest time, .ke was involved in training on anything TLD related, if there were continental training; AfNOG, AfTLD etc that related to registry operations or management, most likely Kenic would be involved.

Well, that all changed at some point because when it comes to DNSSEC training, Tanzania is now taking the lead by sending trainer (s) at the continental meetings. This is a good thing, means the region is growing in terms of tech and innovation.

But why is .ke not up there with .ug and .tz?

Kenic had had its issues and you can read more here

To be fair, I spoke to Anthony Wambugu,  Kenic CEO, about three weeks ago and wanted to know the progress they have made with DNSSEC. He promised to send me the info, and I am still holding out for that. Even though you can see the DNSSEC status from the ICANN report, which is done periodic and captures whatever stage it is.

So, for a registry that seemed to have gotten it right so long ago, where did Kenic get overtaken by Uganda and Tanzania in terms of technical progress?

 

 

What are the benefits?

Apart from the benefits covered in the articles above, if the domain registry, (ccTLD) has implemented, it means other domain owners can now start implementing, which will help e-commerce. I must admit that there are other reasons that e-commerce hasn’t picked up and this may help an inch.

If the registry management has DNSSEC trainers, it means training locally is easier and ISPs can organize their own trainings with the help of the registry (Kenic) but this is not the case.

Ideally, the push to implement DNSSEC is led by big ISPs that want to use every avenue to market. But the ISPs or the tech department must also have a clue about global trends.

To assess the level of awareness, you start with Safaricom  the biggest ISP, with $20million invested in a cloud service, the largest Telecoms company in East and Central Africa, (you can insert other titles here).

I got in touch with Thibaud Rerolle, the IT director at Safaricom, to try and understand why Safaricom has not taken any step towards DNSSEC, like other ISPs in Africa, that can at least validate DNSSEC.

Well, let us just say that Safaricom needs to send its techies for those DNSSEC trainings.

Maybe Kenya doesn’t need tech developments to maintain its position as the lead tech destination but as we bask in the glory, its nice to acknowledge that other countries are forging ahead 🙂