What is IANA (The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority)

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is the organization in charge of the allocation of IP addresses, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and Internet numbers on a global scale.

IANA is part of ICANN, a private American non-profit, which was established in 1988. In 2016 ICANN created the Public Technical Identifiers (PTI) – the structure under which umbrella IANA operates at present. Five local internet registries coordinate their activities with IANA, which mission statement as part of the PTI reads: “PTI is responsible for the operational aspects of coordinating the Internet’s unique identifiers and maintaining the trust of the community to provide these services in an unbiased, responsible and effective manner.

Because of the multi-layered distribution of IP addresses and domain names, IANA has a complex structure and policy. IANA is directly responsible for the assignment of internet numbers to websites, servers, and services across the internet.

The need for global coordination of certain parts of the Internet, namely the allocation and maintenance of unique codes and numbering systems, prompted the creation of IANA. The organization is one of the oldest internet management organizations in the world.

Internet Protocol (IP) address

World Man of RIRs

IANA distributes blocks of IP addresses to the regional Internet registries (RIRs) - the African Network Information Center (AFRINIC), American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the Latin America and Caribbean Network Information Centre, and the Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre. Each of these regional registries is responsible for redistributing these IP blocks in their designated area. Ever since the exhaustion of Internet Protocol Version 4, no further IPv4 addresses are allocated by IANA.

Domain Names

In addition to IPs, IANA manages the root nameservers that form the top of the DNS (Domain Name System) tree. IANA operates root servers, as well as a reserve DNS service, the arpa zone, and the int registry for international treaty organizations. Since the cryptographic signing of the root zone in 2010, IANA manages vital parts of the DNSSEC operations, such as the "Root Zone KSK Operator". As a part of these responsibilities, IANA hosts signing ceremonies at which members of the Trusted Community Representatives meet in person to generate key materials and signing keys.

Protocol Assignment

Another task vital for the proper functioning of the Internet that IANA oversees is the maintenance of protocol registries, which include coordinates, protocols, and parameters, all in a table form. IANA is in charge of managing some 3000 registries and sub-registries at the moment.

Time Zone Database

IANA’s Time Zone Database holds information about all time zone differences and the rules that apply to them. The database covers all regions around the world, and it is the information computers and another internet- capable electronic devices use to reference their regional time zone settings. The time zone database is subject to constant updates that aim at keeping it relevant and reflecting both daylight-saving rules and decisions made by individual political bodies within the governed regions.

Language Subtag Registry

IANA Language Subtag Registry is another crucial registry under the management of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. It is defined by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) RFC5646 branch.