Why Are These IP Addresses Important?
Why I keep AFE, BullionVault & GoldMoney IP Addresses Close At Hand
To visit any website, you normally click a bookmark, an existing link or manually type the website address into your web browser. Let’s take GoldMoney as an example. Typing in their website address http://www.goldmoney.com as shown will connect your computer to GoldMoney’s server (powerful computer) so that you can browse their website and mange your PMs holding.
However, like all other servers, GoldMoney’s server cannot recognize or understand the website address you type into your browser. Hence, your computer automatically sends that address to a specialized server on the Internet known as the Domain Name Server (DNS). The DNS translates the website address into a series of numbers that GoldMoney’s server understands. It is referred to as the IP address of the server, and in GoldMoney’s case, the IP address is 126.96.36.199 (read as two one three dot one six seven dot eighty five dot twenty). With this number, your computer and GoldMoney’s server can now communicate smoothly.
Under normal circumstances, you don’t have to know the server’s IP address, and the process described above is transparent to you. However, when something goes wrong (eg. Domain hijacking, DNS hijacking or disruptions due to a variety of other reasons), your computer will not be able access the translation service of a DNS server. Should that happen, you lose access to GoldMoney’s servers, which may still be running perfectly.
In this situation, you can bypass the DNS (think of it as a third party translator) by connecting directly to GoldMoney’s server using its IP address instead of its website address. Enter it into your browser as shown, and everything should operate normally. To ensure your access to critical web services are not disrupted due to circumstances beyond the control of those website operators, it is prudent to know and keep their IP addresses at hand. You may create a set of special bookmarks for this emergency.
Here are the IP addresses of the three providers for your easy reference. If you are using these services, you should test them out to see that they work for you. Generally, these IP address do not change frequently. However, please note that they can change, just as your home address changes when you move to another place. No guarantees, but I’ll try to update them should that happens.
The disruptions described above are possible, but are they probable?
Ironically, as I was writing this, I reached out to one of my favorite collaborative research tool at Diigo.com to retrieve some bookmarks; only to find myself on a totally different website. I knew immediately Diigo domain has been hijacked! It turns out to be quite a dramatic hijack, much like a kidnapping case, complete with ransom demands and payments. Read all about it here.
Domain hijacking and DNS hijacking usually involve disruptions caused by online thieves. This ICANN report details how domain name hijacking of several high profile websites (including Nike & Ebay) were exploited and resolved. While these can be annoying to users and website owners alike, they are usually not very serious and recovery to normal usually happens over a relatively short period of time. During disruptions the IP address will come in handy.
Of greater concern are disruptions due to political reasons.
Who Controls the Internet?
It has been said that the Internet was America’s gift to the world. Really? From its humble beginnings as an academic project in the 1960s, the Internet quickly grew into something so big the US government came into the scene. The Internet as we know it today has been managed/governed by the US government until 1998. On September 30th of that year, the task of managing the Internet was handed over to a private non profit organization known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) headquartered in Los Angeles.
So, does the ICANN hold the key to the Internet? The short answer is NO. The “ON/OFF switch” remains in the hands of the US government, more specifically the US Department of Commerce.
Key to the Internet – The 200KB file.
The ICANN manages various several critical components of the Internet’s architecture ensuring its stable and secure operation. One of the key components is the Domain Name System (DNS) described above.
As you can imagine, if everyone of our computers, smartphones, tablets, etc connect to the same DNS server to translate web addresses into IP numbers, that server will be overwhelmed with traffic. So obviously there are very many of these servers around. It’s actually a network of servers linked together like a pyramid. Every server in the pyramid updates the information for translating website addresses by checking with servers higher up the pyramid. At the apex of this hierarchical distributed database is a server holding a tiny 200KB file known as the Root Zone File. That’s the key to the Internet; and it’s controlled by the US Department of Commerce (DoC).
In its June 30, 2005 publication, the DoC said:
The United States Government intends to preserve the security and stability of the Internet’s Domain Name and Addressing System (DNS). Given the Internet’s importance to the world’s economy, it is essential that the underlying DNS of the Internet remain stable and secure. As such, the United States is committed to taking no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS and will therefore maintain its historic role in authorizing changes or modifications to the authoritative root zone file.
Do you trust the US to take no action that would have the potential to adversely impact the effective and efficient operation of the DNS? And where does ICANN fit into all these? In the same publication, the DoC said:
ICANN is the appropriate technical manager of the Internet DNS. The United States continues to support the ongoing work of ICANN as the technical manager of the DNS and related technical operations and recognizes the progress it has made to date. The United States will continue to provide oversight so that ICANN maintains its focus and meets its core technical mission.
There you have it. The ICANN is merely the Technical Manager. The US government retains control and have the final say on DNS, including the all-important Root Zone File.
In its July 1, 2005 publication, The Register reported this reaction:
An extraordinary statement by the US government has sent shockwaves around the internet world and thrown the future of the network into doubt.
In a worrying U-turn, the US Department of Commerce (DoC) has made it clear it intends to retain control of the internet’s root servers indefinitely. It was due to relinquish that control in September 2006, when its contract with overseeing body ICANN ended.
The decision – something that people have long feared may happen – will not only make large parts of the world furious but also puts ICANN in a very difficult position. The organisation has slowly been expanding out of its California base in an effort to become an international body with overall responsibility for the internet.
What this means is that under the extreme of circumstances, the DoC could pull the plug on the Internet or mess around with the DNS. While this desperate act has not been attempted, the US government has, through several initiatives clearly demonstrated its intention to exert ever increasing control over the Internet. In the name of policing the net, from fighting online piracy to child pornography, we have SOPA, PIPA and headlines like “SOPA just one early step in plan to control the Internet” & “U.S. Government Shuts Down 84,000 Websites” popping up every now and then.
Many of us hold gold & silver as a protection against what governments can and will do to our paper currencies. Here at PoliticalMetals, I’ve highlighted the political nature of these monetary metals, and hence it makes sense to be prepared for all eventuality…. And that is why you would want to keep these IP addresses close at hand if you have metals stored by these service providers.
- A proposal to impose a global tax on the Internet by the UN is being considered. Think this over – How can you tax something for which you don’t have control?
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