Fill Out the Form

If you’ve decided to go with the com domain, go to the registration form at the ICANN Domain Name Template Generator. Your first choice is whether to use ICANN’s new Guardian feature, which offers you various security choices for domain name transactions (see our news story “Domain name sign-up made more secure” for details). This will prevent unauthorized follow-ups to your registration or tampering with your account. If you want to use the Guardian, click on the button and answer the questions.

Then you’ll be taken to the main registration form. If you don’t want Guardian, you can scroll down to the form immediately.
Fill in the form, beginning with your email address. Be sure to fill in all the blanks; the form will not be accepted with incomplete information. Because you’re asking for a domain that is assigned to businesses, you’ll be asked for information such as administrative and technical contacts as well as the purpose of your organization. Unless you actually have a staff working for you, use your own name and address for the contacts. Make up your company’s purpose. When you’re asked for the IP addresses, paste them in from your clipboard.

At the end of the registration form, click on Submit Query. An ICANN robot immediately makes sure all the necessary information is there and emails a completed form back to you. You’re not finished, though. For unknown reasons, the form isn’t automatically submitted for registration.

If you don’t want to pay to live in a desirable online neighborhood, try a us domain name. You’ll find a registration template at the U.S. Domain Registration Services (USDRS). This form is similar to the ICANN form. (And of course you don’t have to send a check, because it’s free.)

Now that you’re registered, give your ISP a call and ask them to connect your new domain name to an IP address. Pay the appropriate fee (about $10 is standard), and you’re done. Now that you’ve got the cool domain name, you just have to create that Web page…

Gather the Info You Need

If you opt to register through your ISP, just call or email your customer service representative. If you’d rather do it yourself, you need the following information before you start:

  • your proposed domain name
  • your name and email address
  • your street address and phone number
  • two domain server IP addresses

Computers don’t care about fancy names; they need numbers. And every domain name actually refers–in the bowels of the InterNIC computers–to an Internet protocol (IP) address. You’ve probably seen them sneak by when you’ve set up a dialer. The IP address is a string of four 8-bit numbers, called a dotted octet. When you get a domain name assigned, you also get an IP address. But it’s a whole lot easier to type in http://www.dreamactivist.org/ than to remember all those numbers.

The IP address actually comes from your service provider once your domain name has been registered. registrar allocates groups of those numbers to the various providers. Keep in mind, though, that the domain name you register with InterNIC is yours and can be moved to another service provider.

So if you use only one IP address, why do you need two to register with registrar? It’s simply a way for InterNIC to check your reliability; if you supply two valid IP addresses, you become credible in the registrar’s eyes.

To get the required IP addresses for registration, contact your service provider and find out what its policy is for assigning IP addresses. Some ISPs charge you up front for the addresses; others offer them for free, waiting to charge you when they actually hook you up to an address. Follow the company’s procedures, and you’ll be sent two IP addresses in dotted octet form. Copy them into your computer’s clipboard so you can paste them into the domain name registration form later.

Now you’re ready to register your domain name.

Consider the Costs

It used to be free to register a domain name. But when the number of name registrations exploded–from 18,000 com addresses in mid-1994 to more than 82,000 a year later–InterNIC imposed a registration fee. These days, it costs $10 up front to register a domain name for the first year; it’s about the same to maintain it thereafter.

Your service provider can take care of this for you, usually with an additional processing fee. Namecheap, for example, charges $10.99 and some ICANN fees, Internetbs charges $9.60. But services that accompany the fees vary, so investigate your options fully. Beware of excessive charges: some unscrupulous ISPs charge as much as $50 and would like you to think the domain name search is costly. In fact, it’s free (see step 1).

And don’t think you can get away without paying the ICANN fee. If you don’t pony up, you’ll be cut off and your domain name will be up for grabs (see our news story about what happened to some who didn’t pay: “Web deadbeats to get identity crisis”).

Find out how the us domain works and how you can save money by using it. The registration fee, by the way, is paid only by users of domains with a top level of com, org, and net. The NSF foots the bill for edu and gov, while the Department of Defense pays for mil registrations. But the us domain is free. To find out more about registering under the us domain, click on the image at the left.

Decide How to Do It

There are two ways to register a domain name. The easier method is to ask your Internet service provider (ISP) to do it for you. But if you’re an ardent do-it-yourselfer, you can fill in the online InterNIC forms yourself. (Of course, you still have to mail a check.) Why choose one over the other?

the ISP method
*It’s easy–all the work is done for you.
*You’re all set to link the domain name to your Web page.
*The ISP can also set up your email address.
the do-it-yourself method
*It’s fast–you register by email.
*It’s probably cheaper–there’s no setup or search fee.

Unless you’re hard-wired to the Internet, though, you need a service provider, who will charge a fee to link your domain name to an Internet protocol (IP) address.

Note that not all ISPs allow you to register your own domain name (America Online, for instance, is one that doesn’t allow it). Check with your ISP to be sure you can do so. If your current ISP doesn’t allow it, and you really want your own domain name, you’ll need to get a new service provider.

Be sure to investigate the costs of both the ISP method and the do-it-yourself method before making a decision.

Step 1: Search for Your Domain

As more and more commercial concerns grabbed Web presences in the early ’90s, domain naming started to get out of hand. In April 1993, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) to handle the huge volume of requests. InterNIC was originally drawn from three sources: General Atomics, which was to provide the information services, but was dropped in 1995; AT&T, which delivers directory and database services from a home base in New Jersey; and Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which offers registration services from Herndon, Virginia.

The first step to getting your own domain name is using HostingManual.net’s free online search to see if the name is already taken. In the form, enter the name you want. You don’t need the http://www part of the name, just the subdomain(s) and the top-level domain.

So, for example, type yourname.com in the form and hit Return; you’ll get a response telling you whether the name is already taken or is up for grabs. If the result screen says “No match for YOURNAME.COM,” you’re free to pursue that domain name. If, instead, the screen displays information about a company or an individual, it means the domain name is taken; you’ll have to try another name. Once you’ve read the InterNIC response, use your browser’s Back button to return to this screen.

Find out what happens when you try to register mcdonalds.com or other well-known names. The only snag is the search finds only domain names that have already been registered. The registration process itself can take up to three weeks, so even if the system tells you your proposed name is available, you could still be out of luck if someone has submitted it for registration a week before you did–unless you’re an internationally known fast-food empire with lots of high-profile lawyers (click on the image at the left for details).

What’s in a Domain Name?

The Internet’s domain name system (DNS) evolved in the early ’80s as new networking protocols developed, making it easy to find a particular site by using a structured system of elements. Those elements, also known as uniform resource locators (URLs), consist of a protocol, a host name, and a domain. For example, in http://www.dreamactivist.org/, http is the protocol (it stands for hypertext transfer protocol), www is the host name, and dreamactivist.org is the domain. (Domains always consist of at least two parts: the top-level domain–com, in this case–comes last, while one or more subdomains precede it.) The end result? Another acronym: you’ve got an FQDN (fully qualified domain name).

Find codes for top-level U.S. domains and subdomains as well as foreign country codes. There are seven top-level domains in the United States (each a two- or three-letter code), for everything from commercial entities to nonprofit organizations to government agencies. (The White House, for example, is a government agency, so its domain is whitehouse.gov.) Because the United States played such a strong role in developing the DNS, the system arrogantly assumes that the lack of a country code designates the United States. Every other country in the world uses a two-letter country code as the top-level domain name (such as uk for the United Kingdom). Although it’s not required, many entities in the United States do use us as a top-level domain, preceded by federal, state, or other codes. (For example, ci.boston.ma.us is Boston’s city government domain.) Click on the image at the left for lists of U.S. and foreign domain codes.

For a while InterNIC allowed individuals in the United States to register only under the com and us domains. You could try to get away with net or org (click on the DNS codes image above to see what they mean), but the burden of proof was upon you to prove your qualifying status. You could especially attract attention if you applied for, say, whatever.com, find that it’s taken, and then apply for whatever.net. It’s easier to stick with com or us.

The first step is making sure nobody else has snagged the name you want.

How to Get Your Own Domain Name?

What’s the difference between your Web site and a great big site run by, say, McDonald’s? Assuming your site has animation that features happy children waving from the window of a fast-food restaurant, there’s no difference–except that the golden arches are at http://www.mcdonalds.com/, while you may be at a Web address that looks something like http://www.isp.net/users/~yourname/index.html. How did Mickey D’s acquire such an easy-to-remember address? Simple: the company paid for it.

Over the past couple of years people and corporations have registered a flurry of domain names to carry over their name recognition to the Internet. Want to find a big corporation’s Web site? Chances are it’s at www.bigcorporation.com. But if you set up a site through your local Internet service provider, you get a big, unwieldy address. Still, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. It’s just a matter of choosing a unique name–and paying for it. So sit back and ponder what domain name you want to claim as we step you through the process of making your URL your own.

Installing Aide

AIDE stands for Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment (not System!) It collates information about files you specify, like checksums and permissions, into a database to be stored on external media. This can be especially useful in detecting files edited or placed on your system covertly by a cracker. For instance if your system is compromised “ls” could be replaced with a bash script that deletes all the files off the root tree.

Ideally you should run AIDE on a fresh system that has not been connected to a network, as if you have a malicious file already on your system then AIDE will just see it as any other file. You should also install AIDE on non-rewriteable media or storage, it depends how paranoid you are, personally I’m using it on a USB key. However if you are really security conscious you might consider using a multi-session CD-R to store the AIDE binary and database on. However the instructions are basically the same.

First download AIDE from the AIDE Sourceforge page move it into a directory and unpack it with:

tar xzf aide*

Go into the directory, making sure you have mounted whatever you are using (preferably a USB key) and configure it so that the binary will be installed on the removable storage and will look under the storage directories instead of looking at the default root tree.

./configure --prefix=/mnt/usbkey/aide --exec-prefix=/mnt/usbkey/aide

Next go into the directory that you installed it to (/mnt/usbkey/aide in my case) and make an etc directory to store the database and configuration files in:

mkdir etc
cd etc
touch aide.conf

Next you have to fill in the configuration that you require in the .conf file. The manual should be handy in finding out which options you need. Caveat: apparently the configuration options like to be all lined up, so make sure you have two distinguishable columns; on the left the directories and on the right the rules.

Now that you’ve got the configuration file sorted out, move into the bin directory and initialise the database:

./aide --init

This should create a aide.new.db file or similar underneath the /mnt/usbkey/aide/etc folder. Change this to aide.db:

mv aide.new.db aide.db

Now sit back and relax, check that all your files are in order every so often–how often? Depends on how paranoid you are. To check just plug in your USB key and execute:

./aide --check