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INI Student Helps Ensure Safety of Data through ICANN Research

April 24, 2012

In the world we currently live in, the ability to contact a person thousands of miles away in less than a second is taken for granted. This is of course possible because of the Internet and all the networks available today. But who ensures that networks can connect reliably, even across international borders? Thankfully, all of these names and numbers needed to connect with others are carefully coordinated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to ensure we have one global Internet.

Mila Gorodetsky, a second-year INI student in the Master of Science in Information Networking program is currently conducting research for ICANN that will help track down spammers. Her research involves looking at how various domain registrars handle the privacy of WHOIS data, or information stored in databases such as domain names and IP addresses. Even though this public WHOIS data is meant to be viewable, it has been abused by spammers. "My job is to investigate more than 100 registrars and see whether they take any steps to avoid or reduce the chances of abuse of WHOIS data and what exactly they do in order to avoid that," Gorodetsky says.

Many of these registrars are located outside of the United States, and thus Gorodetsky's fluency in a few foreign languages gives her the upper hand in her research for ICANN. However, the information that is of interest to her is presented in a wide variety of different languages, so she must use both her common sense and online translators in order to navigate through it. But overall, Gorodetsky enjoys rising to the challenge and being a part of this innovative research.

"Other than learning about the scope of the problem, it is very exciting for me, a non-security major, to learn about cybersecurity and privacy issues," Gorodetsky states. "And to be involved in research that is related to millions of people around the world."

In fact, being involved in this research ultimately led to Gorodetsky listing the information security team as one of her top choices to work with at Boeing, her future employer after graduation. Although she may not have majored in information security, Gorodetsky's research for ICANN definitely piqued her interest and better prepared her for being happy in her new career.