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VeriSign promises 100% DNS availability

Web security vendor VeriSign has officially launched its set of managed Internet DNS (Domain Name System) services with a promise of 100% availability.

Already available since the beginning of the year, the offering consists of DNS Hosting, whereby customers use VeriSign's infrastructure for both primary and secondary DNS servers, DNS High Availability, where only the secondary DNS server is outsourced, and DNS and IP Enterprise software to manage DNS and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses in-house.

DNS is the system that maps text-based Web addresses to numeric IP addresses. If a company's DNS service goes down, its Web sites become unreachable and e-mails will not be received.

Security problems with the most popular DNS software, the open-source Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) product, have put the spotlight on DNS security. The Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (CERT/CC) has issued several warnings. Surveys have shown that many administrators have a lax attitude towards DNS security.

VeriSign recently traded BIND for its own software called ATLAS, which stands for Advanced Transaction Look-up and Signaling system. The company promises 100% DNS uptime on its outsourced managed DNS services because it claims to have the knowledge and people to manage DNS right.

"It takes a lot of diligence to minimise risk when managing DNS," Ed Choi, director of managed DNS services at Verisign, said. "A lot of companies manage their public DNS services behind the firewall, essentially opening up a backdoor into their network."

VeriSign's DNS Hosting and DNS High Availability have Web-based administration options for the user and are available for any domain, regardless of where it is registered, Choi said.

Pricing for DNS Hosting starts at $50 (£33) per domain per year and goes down with volume or up with added services, such as e-mail backup, which will catch all e-mail to a domain when a customer's e-mail server fails. DNS High Availability costs $25 (£16) per domain name per year, with volume discounts available and extra costs for added features, Choi said.

DNS Enterprise and IP Enterprise, the software that allows a company to keep DNS management in-house, costs $2,500 (£1,640) for 250 IP addresses or DNS hosts. Extra IP addresses or hosts cost between $0.50 and $2 depending on how many there are. Customers are charged only for IP addresses that are in use, not for all IP addresses in a block available to a customer, Choi said.

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