It sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, but while crazy, it is also the truth. There are seven keys that, for all intents and purposes, control the Internet (or at least an important aspect of it).

These physical keys access seven different safety deposit boxes, which each contain a smartcard. When all seven smartcards are combined, they create a master key which controls the Internet’s domain name system—the system that tells your computer the numeric address to go to when you type in a website name. This system is queried up to a trillion times each day by Internet users all around the world.

Did you know?

  1. The domain name system security system (DNSSEC) is controlled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
  2. If someone were to gain control of the database, they would control the Internet itself.
  3. As part of extensive security precautions, the master key is split into seven parts. Each keyholder also has a backup, making 14 keyholders for seven keys.
  4. The 14 keyholders are part of a group known as Trusted Community Representatives (TCRs).
  5. Each TCR is a volunteer representative of the domain name community in their own country.
  6. If something were to ever happen to the domain name system, the seven keys can be used to help rebuild it.
  7. Since 2010, the seven primary keyholders meet four times per year to generate a new master key password for the database.
  8. The key is changed this frequently to reduce the risk of someone hacking the database with a “brute force” attack that guesses the password by trying multiple options.
  9. These meetings are highly secure, with each requiring passage through multiple locks, checkpoints, witnessed interactions, and other security features.
  10. The meeting is held in a room protected from all electronic communications and with a specialized hardware security modules.