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Theme fund: Internet Hardening Fund
Start: 2017-02
End: 2019-05


Decentralized, censorship resist Internet infrastructure for e.g. DNS and identities

Namecoin is a blockchain project that provides a decentralized naming system and trust anchor. Its flagship use-case is a decentralized top-level domain (TLD) which is the cornerstone of a domain name system that is resistant to hijacking and censorship. Among other things, this provides a decentralized trust anchor for Public Key Infrastructure that does not require third party trust. It operates independent from the DNSSEC root trust chain, and can thus offer additional security under some circumstances.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Without a PKI that is resistant to hijacking and censorship, the security guarantees of TLS are fundamentally incomplete. Namecoin is a very promising blockchain project that can, in principle, be used with any PKI or DNS-like naming system. By removing third-party trust from the TLS PKI, users are protected from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and domain name seizures.

Namecoin has some unique characteristics such as that Namecoin domain names can declare their TLS fingerprints directly &mdash without having to trust a certificate authority, notaries, or the regular DNS infrastructure. Namecoin can make anonymity networks significantly more usable by giving them a human-readable domain name, such as wikileaks.bit instead of kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion. In addition to the TLS PKI and anonymity networks, Namecoin can provide usable, trustless, and censorship-resistant alternatives to a range of critical security infrastructure, such as:

* PGP fingerprints for email and software signing. * OTR fingerprints for XMPP. * Usernames for the Ricochet Tor-based chat software. * TLS client certificates for passwordless login to websites.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy

This project was funded through the Internet Hardening Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.