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What are Handshake (HNS) domains, and how do they work?

What are Handshake (HNS) domains, and how do they work?


25 December 2022 17:53, UTC


Studying time: ~6 m

A specific matter of curiosity within the blockchain area is the emergence of blockchain-related tasks within the area identify system (DNS) and area ecosystem. Handshake, specifically, has been gaining consideration amongst decentralized know-how lovers for its potential to revolutionize how folks take into consideration and work together with domains, particularly within the context of Web3.

What’s a handshake (HNS) area?

Handshake (HNS) is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol that enables for peer-to-peer communication and supplies an accessible different to centrally managed domains, comparable to .com, country-code domains and different generic domains.

As a decentralized peer-to-peer area naming protocol, Handshake goals to function a DNS chain different to the present default root chain. Additionally, the creation of top-level domains (TLDs) comparable to .company, .gov, .edu and the like are at the moment managed by the Web Company for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and are topic to an utility course of.

As such, earlier than an applicant can have a brand new TLD created within the root DNS, they first have to use for the top-level area, win an public sale for it, and await approval. The present course of is tedious, advanced and costly — to not point out extremely centralized. This makes the system weak to hackers and nonresistant to corruption and censorship.

Handshake hopes to vary the system and supply different Handshake top-level domains which might be rather more environment friendly, reasonably priced and safe. The aim is to have the ability to use blockchain know-how to permit Handshake domains to bypass the present ICANN-overseen system and assist construct a extra decentralized area panorama on-line.

Handshake (HNS) vs. conventional DNS

As talked about, the present DNS infrastructure is closely reliant on ICANN’S root zone. Which means for HNS domains to be resolved, there should first be a Handshake-aware resolver within the decision chain.

The best way DNS works, nonetheless, is sort of just like HNS. The one distinction is the foundation zone file that the web trusts and reads from, therefore the necessity to introduce a Handshake different.

The aim isn’t to modify to the Handshake root zone solely, as doing so would render present TLDs (.com and others) until in addition they declare and recreate their TLDs on the Handshake blockchain. Suffice it to say that that is unlikely to occur anytime quickly.

Compatibility is one other potential situation. There are millions of TLDs, they usually proceed to extend because the web expands. What Handshake has carried out to make sure that the brand new decentralized root zone will likely be suitable with these different TLDs is to order them for managing organizations to assert over the subsequent three years.

How does a Handshake area work?

Handshake primarily distributes web site addresses by way of auctions dealt with mechanically by Handshake’s software program. Auctions for TLDs are held each two weeks, and customers need to bid utilizing the Handshake protocol’s cryptocurrency, HNS, to take part.

Whoever wins the bid pays the second-highest worth following the format of a Vickrey public sale, a sealed-bid public sale kind whereby bidders are unaware of the bids of others. This ensures that everybody is handled pretty and that domains are allotted effectively and at a good market worth.

The Handshake blockchain runs equally to the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain. Miners run the Handshake software program, competing to unlock newly minted HNS tokens by fixing a sequence of mathematical puzzles. New blocks are added to the blockchain each 10 minutes, and miners are paid 2,000 HNS each 10 minutes of mining. The utmost provide of HNS is 2.04 billion.

What’s a Handshake area used for?

There are various use circumstances for handshake domains. They work identical to any area identify and can be utilized for any web site or on-line service. For companies, specifically, Handshake domains can present a aggressive edge by giving them better privateness and management over their area namespace.

Another documented use circumstances for Handshake are:

  • Promote subdomains: Make a revenue from promoting subdomains which might be extensions of 1’s TLD.
  • Log in with Handshake: Use Handshake to log in securely and privately while not having a password.
  • Redirects: Use it as a URL shortener.
  • dLinks: Use Handshake to create a decentralized hub for one’s content material on-line.
  • Hmail: Create an e mail deal with on one’s Handshake identify.
  • dWord: Can be utilized to construct web sites deployed on one’s Handshake identify.
  • Nomad: Handshake names can be utilized as a username on a social networking website.
  • Creating an internet site: Use Sia Skynet, GitHub Pages, Heroku, Vercel or WordPress to create an internet site on Handshake.

The best way to register a Handshake area?

As talked about, a technique that customers can take part within the public sale processes for Handshake domains is through the use of HNS. Aside from that, area registrar Namecheap presents registration companies for Handshake domains to the general public.

Namecheap at the moment presents the next TLDs:


To register a handshake area on Namecheap, a person merely has to allow the HNS choice and comply with the common course of for registering a conventional area identify. Other than registering a site identify, transferring to or updating a Handshake area can be carried out both on Namecheap or by way of HNS cash.

The best way to entry a Handshake area?

Handshake domains at the moment don’t resolve on common net browsers. To entry a Handshake area, one has to make use of both the Handshake software program itself or any of the next:

  • Browser extensions
  • Fingertip
  • NextDNS
  • VPNs.

Benefits and downsides of Handshake domains

There are a number of benefits to utilizing Handshake domains, together with enhanced privateness and management, better flexibility in area identify utilization and the flexibility to take part in area identify auctions.

Additionally, the push towards a extra decentralized web might imply that decentralized area identify system companies like Handshake might ultimately be thought of extra steady and resilient to area identify hijacking or server outages.

Nevertheless, there are some drawbacks to utilizing Handshake domains as nicely. For one, area identify customers should have already got HNS cash to take part in area auctions or use different companies supplied by Handshake, putting boundaries to entry for many who will not be tech-savvy or could also be much less acquainted with cryptocurrency.

To the uninitiated, different domains can be considerably extra advanced to arrange and use than conventional domains, particularly because the adoption of different domains has but to penetrate the mainstream.

​​The way forward for Handshake domains

The transfer to instate Web3 blockchain area identify techniques is geared towards offering customers with easier, shorter domains that may simply be used on-line. As such, Handshake domains — and related iterations of decentralized area system companies — could also be used to symbolize a blockchain deal with, as an illustration.

Folks can then simply say, “Ship the cost to joe.crypto,” as an alternative of a hex string with a number of characters, making it extra handy and user-friendly to make use of domains on the internet. Handshake goals to participate within the decentralized future by providing customers higher management of their knowledge, safety and privateness whereas holding issues decentralized.

Nevertheless, it stays to be seen if accessibility will turn out to be a problem for potential adopters. As issues stand, each registration and browser help are nonetheless firmly within the palms of the standard infrastructure. Additionally, if ICANN releases TLDs sooner or later that may battle with Handshake’s TLDs, area utilization might turn out to be extra difficult.

In such a circumstance, resolvers would wish to resolve whether or not to resolve the Handshake TLD or ICANN TLD. ICANN can also be an undeniably bigger and extra highly effective group — will it yield to decentralization?

And with such an advanced course of for area infrastructure turnover within the course of decentralization, received’t switching to HNS simply make it the foremost participant as soon as ICANN domains are phased out (if in any respect)? Many questions stay to be answered, and solely time will inform if companies like Handshake will turn out to be broadly adopted — or fade into obscurity.​

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