Registry of [.gr] Domain Names
FORTH-ICS has been assigned and operated the [.gr] ccTLD (Country Code Top Level Domain) since 1989. The [.gr] Registry is responsible for the technical support and continuous operation of its systems under the supervision and regulation by the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) as specified in decisions 268/73 (25-11-2002), 351/76 (15-04-2005) and 592/012 (03-02-2011).
The DNS Service in Greece (1989-2012)
The Domain Name System (DNS) is a technology developed to make Internet usage easier for the average user. Before the DNS was invented the communication with a remote host required the memorizing of the host’s IP address by the end user. As one may easily deduce the growth of the Internet usage required a service analogous to a “phone book” that would be able to translate and map human-friendly host names to machine-friendly IP addresses (www.eett.gr -> 184.108.40.206).
The success of the DNS was cemented by the World Wide Web (WWW) as the appearance of content on Web sites gave impetus and momentum to the widespread of the Internet and created the environment for commercial exploitation. New services emerged that did not require the memorizing of numeric addresses by end users anymore. Trade names, trademarks, and new commercial ideas were promoted on this new medium with the use of domain names. Domain names made it possible for end users to reach out to variety of new services and products.
By mid-1990 the use of Internet was limited to universities and research / scientific communities. The Institute of Computer Science was operating the [.gr] registry which at the time numbered to a few thousands domains. The domain registration involved no costs for registrants wishing to make use of the new technology. During that period, only Greek legal entities were allowed to register domains and only a limited number of domains.
In 1997, following an open consultation with all interested parties and stakeholders from the emerging market of Internet services which was held under the auspices of the National Telecommunications Commission (EET), the first regulation by EET for the assignment of [.gr] domains was drafted. EET designated as administrator of the [.gr] registry the Institute of Computer Science of the Foundation for Research & Technology (FORTH-ICS). Consequently, the Department of Administration of [.gr] Domains was established in FORTH-ICS with the department performing the dual role of the [.gr] Registry and that of the Registrar of [.gr] domains and having the sole responsibility for the registry’s administration and operation of the .gr DNS name space.
The regulation brought significant changes to the registration process of [.gr] domains was implemented by FORTH-ICS and came to force in 01/01/1999. The period of a domain registration was set to two (2) years and annual domain renewals were possible, while fees were introduced for the domain registration and renewal. Legal entities were allowed to register a maximum of ten (10) domains and freelancers could register up to two (2) domains, while Greek citizens were able to register one (1) domain each. Furthermore, interested parties who met certain criteria were able to register domains under the second level domains .com.gr, .net.gr, .org.gr, .edu.gr and .gov.gr.
The regulation was further revised and improved by EETT in November 1999 giving the right to foreign legal entities to register [.gr] domains. Later on, the restriction on the maximum number of registered domains per legal entity was also lifted.
Under law 2867/2000 the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) was designated as the sole competent authority for the assignment and registration of [.gr] domains. Under EETT’s Decision 268/73 of 25-11-2002, .gr domain names are assigned through registrars, starting April 2004. For this purpose, FORTH-ICS utilising their experience in the registry’s administration and overall operation, has implemented the model Registry – Registrar – User along with necessary infrastructure to support the revised [.gr] domain assignment process. FORTH-ICS continued to perform the Registrar role for a couple of months for the purposes of a smooth transition to the new system.
As part of the decision 351/76 of 15-04-2005 of EETT, FORTH-ICS has implemented and provided the ability to register domains with Greek characters (IDN – International Domain Names). All Greek characters are supported including the ancient Greek and the Greek polytonic system.
With the most recent decision 592/012, 02/03/20 11 of EETT, the assignment and registration of [.gr] domains was further revised involving significant changes resulting in a smoother and quicker process overall.
Name Servers, Interconnection and Registry Applications
Name servers are deployed on a global level to implement a robust and uninterruptible DNS service. Starting with the sharing of servers with other European registries in the 1990’s FORTH-ICS was from the first in the field to identify the need for the utilisation of dedicated servers which led to the development of a network system based on multiple high performance computer nodes strategically deployed in Greece, Europe and America. The system is able to cope with high demand, fulfilling present as well as future development and growth needs.
For the business continuity provision the Registry has implemented a high availability system with multiple safeguards while a backup site is on standby, which in the event of a physical catastrophe will take on all registry services.
Every new domain assignment is processed immediately by the registry and the domain details are added to the [.gr] zone file which is generated every three hours on a daily basis. All registry applications / services have been designed and implemented by FORTH-ICS.
[.gr] name servers deployed across the globe
The name servers make use of the ANYCAST technology for the safety, reliability, scalability and stability of [.gr] DNS service.
In 2010 the [.gr] registry designed and implemented the necessary software and hardware infrastructure required for the provision of the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) technology, which addresses the DNS security vulnerabilities by enabling the validation and authentication of the origin while also ensuring the integrity of the DNS data.
FORTH-ICS as the [.gr] Registry
Since July 2004 FORTH-ICS has ceased operating as a Registrar. Following the open tenders issued by EETT and under the new model of Registry – Registrar – User, FORTH-ICS and in particular the department of the [.gr] Registry was awarded in 2004 and again in 2009 the contract for the maintenance and operation of the [.gr] Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD).
The department is responsible for the technical support and operation of the [.gr] registry systems including the .gr name servers as well as for the support of the interconnection with EETT’s and Registrars’ systems. The registry services are available and supported on a 24 hours / 365 days basis by the registry staff to ensure their uninterruptible operation.
FORTH-ICS provides to registrars the ability to integrate their applications to the registry’s services via the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP). Subsequently, registrars are able to expose the available registry services to the end users via appropriate client applications. Also, the [.gr] registry provides to registrars an Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) environment for conducting functional and operational testing of the registry’s systems as well as for the development and testing of the registrars applications. Additionally, a domain availability and validity service (WHOIS) is provisioned which may be available to end users via the registrars’ web sites.
For security purposes the registry’s applications and services are available exclusively to authorized registrar users and accessible only via a static IP address. Furthermore, SSL digital certificates are utilised to enable the secure communication between end users and the registry’s applications / services.
Following FORTH-ICS standards and best practices the [.gr] registry is constantly striving to improve the quality of the services offered to registrars while taking into account their operational needs and the same time ensuring that the overall experience and satisfaction of the end users is the best possible.
International Presence of FORTH-ICS
FORTH-ICS participates in meetings / workshops of international organizations relating to domain registration issues for top level domain registries. As a member of CENTR (Council of European National Top Level Domain Registries), FORTH-ICS actively participates in meetings / conferences organized by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which is the global body under agreement with the government of the United States of America responsible for the management of top level domains.
FORTH-ICS has frequently participated in international meetings relating to the assignment of top level domains with international characters (IDN TLDs, i.e. [.όνομα]). Recently, the [.gr] registry along with its partners have cooperated to study and report to the international community the issues surrounding the registration of international top level domain names with Greek characters (Greek Case Study Team Report - ICANN Variant Issues Project). In addition, the [.gr] registry was actively involved in a study on the issues introduced by IDN variant TLDs (IDN variant TLDs – Integrated Issues Report), as well as in the development of policies around the assignment of country code IDNs (ICANN - ccNSO IDN Country Code Policy Development Process).
The [.gr] registry’s active involvement in international affairs constitutes a fundamental choice for FORTH-ICS. The participation of FORTH-ICS in international developments along with the continuous effort and respect to the needs of the end users, the [.gr] registry is following a parallel route comparable to that of other European registries with the main purpose of satisfying the needs and implementing the requirements of the [.gr] users.
Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
Institute of Computer Science