The Internet Standards Platform is initially promoting six modern standards for scalable and secure internet use:
- IPv6: an extended, modern range of internet addresses
- DNSSEC: security extensions for domain names
- TLS: secured connections
- DKIM, SPF and DMARC: anti-phishing and anti-spoofing
All of these internet standards are mature and widely available. Their use contributes significantly to the reliability of the Dutch Internet.
The Internet Protocol (IP) is the technology underlying all traffic on the Internet. Under the current standard, IP version 4 (IPv4), every computer has a specific IP address made up of four numbers, such as 192.0.2.26. That is how every computer connected to the Internet is reachable from any other computer.
IPv4 is now 35 years old and is reaching its limits. The biggest problem is that IPv4 can only support four billion IP different addresses. That seems a lot, but it isn't enough for a world of seven billion people, especially when you think that every connected device — desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, webcams, central heating controllers — needs its own IP address.
IP version 6 (IPv6), the successor to IPv4, solves the address shortage. Yet although IPv6 is over fifteen years old now, it has not yet been widely implemented. The problem is that most providers and businesses currently do not offer IPv6 to their customers and users. An important goal of this site is to change that.
You can find more information on IPv6 in the "Frequently Asked Questions".
DNSSEC is a security system for DNS, the internet directory that handles the translation of domain names to IP addresses. DNS itself works fine, but the translation of a domain name to an IP address is not protected. That is a security risk, because attackers can get hold of passwords or other sensitive information by redirecting network traffic to a false IP address.
DNSSEC extends DNS with an additional security feature: a digital signature that guarantees the translation of a domain name to the correct IP address. Any internet user can check that signature automatically, and so avoid being redirected to a false IP address.
You can find more information on DNSSEC in the "Frequently Asked Questions".
TLS is a standard for the cryptographic protection of internet connections. Most people have seen TLS, and its predecessor SSL, in action in their web browsers: by specifying the 'https' protocol in an internet destination — for example https://www.example.com/ — an internet user indicates that he wants to visit a website using a secure connection. The "padlock" icon in the browser shows that a secure connection was established successfully, and optionally provides more detailed security information.
Unfortunately, just enabling TLS does not guarantee security: it needs to be properly configured as well. Using older versions and outdated security options can still make a TLS connection insecure. The Dutch National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published a guide on how to use TLS properly. This guide forms the basis of the information and tests provided on this site.
You can find more information on TLS in the "Frequently Asked Questions".
DKIM, SPF and DMARC
DKIM, SPF and DMARC are three internet standards to fight phishing, spam, viruses and other nasties that are delivered by e-mail. These three standards are usually used together to validate the sender (a mail address) and the sending system (a computer) of a mail message, and to verify that the content of the message has not been altered in transit.
DKIM secures the integrity of mail messages. It safeguards both the content and the "envelope" of every outgoing message with a digital signature. This stops attackers sending messages that pretent to be from other people (spoofing) or altering the content of a message while it is in transit.
SPF prevents "electronic mailboxes" from accepting messages delivered by unauthorised computer systems. Only messages from systems which are actually allowed to send messages for a specific domain will get through. To make this possible, a list of valid senders is published online through the DNS system. Receiving systems can use this list to validate the sender before accepting a message.
DMARC complements the other two security standards for e-mail, DKIM and SPF. DMARC gives "electronic mailboxes" a hint on how to handle incoming mail messages that do not pass the DKIM or SPF checks. These may be discarded, for example, or be put aside.
The hint is published online through the DNS system. It can additionally contain an e-mail address to which mailboxes can report rejected messages. This gives the administrator of a specific mail domain useful information about the delivery of both genuine and forged messages.
You can find more information on DKIM, SPF and DMARC in the "Frequently Asked Questions".