In the event of a catastrophic event threatening global cyber security, seven individuals throughout the world have been entrusted with “keys” that, when combined, could restart the Internet. Each of the individuals in possession of the keys holds, however, only a fraction of the necessary recovery data. If a cyber disaster did occur, at least five of the individuals would be required to converge at a U.S. base in order to reboot the entire system that fuels so much of daily life and society around the globe. According to a report by The Guardian, the key exists in order to ensure that the domain name system remains authentic.
The individuals entrusted with these keys hail from various countries and backgrounds. There are currently keyholders living in the U.K., the U.S., Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China and the Czech Republic.
The individuals were chosen based on experience as well as geographical location. According to TIME Magazine, no single country was allowed to have a majority of key owners. Still, the United States is the central hub of the organization (referred to as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Members meet in a U.S. city at least four times per year.
The majority of the group’s members have significant experience in the field of domain name systems. Member Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, for instance, was one of the innovators of the domain name system security extensions, which earned her a spot in the Internet Hall of Fame.
Another member, British businessman Paul Klane, is a father of two who was headhunted in order to become a member of the group.
Although the group has an important duty, its keys are only useful in the event of a cyber attack that makes it difficult to determine the legitimacy of domain names across the web. Such an event is relatively unlikely to occur, but at least there is a safety system currently in place and ready to respond.