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As an entrepreneur, you likely know how important it is to run your own website with a custom domain. This helps to build your mailing list, sell products, and help clients discover your services.

While obtaining your website domain is easy, you may not know a lot about the systems that manage domains behind the scenes. And you should! A thorough understanding of how domain control and management operates can help you. Especially if you have to deal with name disputes, fraud, or other thorny issues related to your domain.

Here’s a rundown on how the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) maintains all this technical information, and what it means for your business’s website.

What is ICANN’s Purpose?

ICANN was founded in 1998 as a global partnership. It was focused on managing all the naming information that lets us (web users) find websites.

ICANN’s vision is “to be a champion of the single, open, and globally interoperable Internet by being the independent, trusted, multistakeholder steward of the Internet’s unique identifiers.”

Simply put, ICANN ensures that we can find websites via accessible, secure, and unique naming identifiers that are globally managed.

How is ICANN involved in your website?

As a global organization, ICANN has a complex and widespread administrative structure that addresses many issues regarding the Internet. There’s a lot going on, and we won’t go into all of the little details.

If you do want to learn more about the nitty-gritty of ICANN’s structure and general practices, you can check out their pages on how ICANN is organized and their Welcome Page.

Here, we are going to focus on three ways that ICANN is involved in the operation of your business’s website. Those three ways are IP Addresses, the Domain Name System, and Root Servers.

1. Internet Protocol Addresses

Every device that is using the Internet has a unique digital “label” assigned to it. These labels help computers “locate” each other when they share information. When you use a computer, the IP Address is a little bit like a return address on a letter. Websites also have their own IP addresses, which are essential when your computer wants to connect to a webpage.

All those different IP Addresses are distributed and registered by—you guessed it, ICANN. That means your own IP Addresses are managed by ICANN, as are the users’ who check out your website. This plays an important role when you’re trying to check your analytics to see which geographical regions are checking out your website the most!

2. Domain Name System

You’re probably already familiar with domain names, at least a little bit. They usually end with .com, or .org, or .edu, or something similar. There are different kinds of domains, but they all serve the purpose of identifying your website.

Domain names are a human-friendly way of accessing online content. Memorizing a ton of IP address numbers would be a pain, so domain names allow users to give a snappy set of letters and words to label their websites.

ICANN is not in charge of selling or pricing domains—you’re not purchasing directly from ICANN when you buy your website domain. However, ICANN does manage domain name registrars. That is, ICANN accredits and registers services that are trustworthy providers of domain names.

Trying to find a reliable source for a domain name? Check out the list of domain name registries accredited by ICANN!

3. Root Server

Root servers are an important part of the infrastructure of the Internet as a whole. They serve as the basic “storage facilities” for website domain names.

If domain names are the easiest way for humans to locate websites, and IP addresses are how computers locate websites, how exactly do you “translate” between the two? Root servers help fix this.

Root servers are pretty much the source (hence the “root”) of all operations on the Internet: it is where domain names for websites are mapped onto IP addresses. When you type in a domain name search to access a website, a whole process of “name resolution” kicks off where your computer tries to translate that domain name into an IP address it can understand. The whole process is built on top of root servers.

Since ICANN is the one in charge of distributing IP addresses, they are the ones that coordinate with root servers to ensure that each website’s IP address is encompassed in the proper root server.

Why is this important for your business?
Some of this information is very high-end tech stuff, but it’s still important to know. Both because it plays a role in maintaining cyber security, and because it highlights how central ICANN is for managing and laying claim to almost any domain name on the Internet.

Someday, hypothetically, you may have to engage in a domain name dispute. Perhaps someone is using a domain name you trademarked, or someone is using domains a lot like yours but with very slight spelling variations.

In such cases, The ICANN will usually act as a facilitator. It maintains pretty much the entire process for connecting most websites, and so also sets the policies for domain disputes.

Familiarizing yourself with ICANN as an institution, and understanding how its dispute proceedings operate, can help you ensure that others aren’t stealing your search results or using trademarked property.

Whew! That was a lot to take in, wasn’t it?

As a business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate. If you’re looking for an experienced team of professionals who can manage your websites and digital operations, while you focus on the day-to-day of running your business, then Monkey VA is ready to help!

Schedule a call with us today, and we’ll have your website optimized in no time!