IDN domain names are coming

IDN domain names are coming

If you have never heard of IDN domain names, you likely soon will. This is because the most used and popular internet browser in the world, Internet Explorer (IE7), is set to begin resolving them by default.

This means people from all over the world will finally be able to communicate websites, domain names and urls in their native languages. Many people feel this will mark a turning point in internet history. But just what is IDN and why are they so important?

IDNs are domain names that are written in foreign languages like Chinese, Japanese or Russian. IDN stands for Internationalized Domain Name. Most domain names that people are familiar with are written using the latin/english 26 character alphabet (or numbers), in an encoding called ASCII. This is because the internet was designed from the beginning to work using ASCII. IDN allows for the use of non ASCII characters in domain names.

IDN presently acheives this by using what is known as Unicode, a foreign language encoding, to display the foreign language domain. The IDN can be converted by the browser via a number of algorithms to what is known as Punycode, which is an ASCII version of the IDN, which can easily resolve with the current internet system.

Punycode domains can be identified by their "xn--" beginning. The web browser performs the conversions and resolves the domain name into the correct Unicode language.

Up until now, only a few browsers could/would support IDNs. There have also been issues with IDNs regarding security and what is known as IDN spoofing and homograph attacks, where similar looking characters could be used to create look alike domain names.

But with IE7 on board, and developing security refinements, the world moves closer to global IDN resolution. With IDN, people all over the world will be able to type domain names in their languages. Businesses will be able to advertise their sites in the correct language. The internet will begin to realize its promise as a truly global, international and diverse medium. Read more about IDN domain names.


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