The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has put security at the top of its discussion list for its latest gathering in New Zealand.

At the meeting, which began on Saturday and ends on Friday, ICANN's board has been reviewing its Strategic Plan, which has been in the making for the past 9 months and will determine the areas the group will focus on through mid-2009.

That plan, which is in draft form, identifies 10 key challenges facing ICANN, which is the organisation responsible for administrating the Internet's DNS (Domain Name System).

Among those challenges are ICANN's increasing need to meet the demands of a global user base, the rising security threats to the Internet and stability concerns brought about by the growing number of devices used to get online. A decision whether to approve the plan will probably be one of the most significant results of the meeting, Twomey said during a conference call with reporters.

Also being discussed is the issue of distributed denial of service attacks against the DNS, their effect on the Internet's stability and ways to protect against them, he said.

On the table this week as well is a discussion of the proposed .XXX domain for adult content sites, a topic on which feedback will be provided by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee. That feedback will play an important role in determining the timing for dealing with the .XXX application, he said.

ICANN is also looking at internationalised domain names (IDNs) and the corresponding technical difficulties related to the use of different languages and alphabets, particularly in places like China and other parts of Asia and the Middle East, he said. On the approval of new top-level domains and IDNs, Twomey said ICANN will respond quickly to concerns and issues related to them, but not at the expense of the Internet's stability. "We're not going to move any faster than our commitment to ensure stability requires," he said.

Asked about the recent defection from ICANN of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which cited lack of transparency as a reason to leave, Twomey maintained that "ICANN is a very open and transparent organisation".