CIRA launches its first firewall API integration to expand DNS security in Canada

CIRA has now deployed an API for its D-Zone DNS Firewall, and integrated it with Ottawa-based Field Effect Software’s monitoring and analysis platform, in what CIRA hopes will be the first of many such partnerships.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority [CIRA] has announced what it hopes is the first of what will be a series of API integrations specifically designed to provide additional protection against cyber threats for Canadian SMBs. CIRA has partnered with Ottawa-based Field Effect Software, which provides a range of their own security tools and services to customers. The relationship has phishing and malware protection from the CIRA D-Zone DNS Firewall integrated directly into Field Effect’s Covalence threat monitoring and analytics platform. Just as noteworthy is that now that the D-Zone DNS Firewall API is deployed, it will be available for use in other CIRA partnerships.

CIRA came into being in 2000 to manage the .CA top-level domain, and that’s still the aspect of its work that is most familiar to Canadians, even those knowledgeable about the IT industry. It’s also the focus of most of CIRA’s efforts and the source of most of their revenues. However, CIRA eventually began to become involved in the development of technologies and services to make the Internet in Canada safer. CIRA first moved into providing DNS cybersecurity services to Canadians with the introduction of D-Zone Anycast DNS in 2015, a service used by some hosters and the government of Canada. It was followed by D-Zone DNS Firewall in 2017. DNS technology tends to be highly specialized, and CIRA gets theirs from a strategic partnership with Akamai.

Mark Gaudet, product and business development manager at CIRA

“It’s a growing area for us,” said Mark Gaudet, product and business development manager at CIRA. “It’s definitely a sideline for us, but it’s growing with cybersecurity in general. It’s roughly 10 per cent of our revenue, but a higher percentage of our efforts, maybe 20 per cent.”

Today, the firewall is the main focus of the DNS efforts.

“It blocks access to infected sites, and is similar in that way to Cisco Umbrella and other commercial products,” Gaudet said. “The difference is that it’s built 100 per cent in Canada. That’s important with DNS, because it exposes a lot of information about your organization. I think we would be unique in guaranteeing that the data is kept in Canada, because other services are hosted globally. It’s part of our mandate to help Canadian companies navigate this.

“Another advantage is that as we are a non-profit, we can focus on customers like Canadian municipalities and other government, and universities,” Gaudet added. “We can make an enterprise product more accessible to them than might be the case with commercial pricing.”

The D-Zone Partner Program, through which the API integration with Field Effect was implemented, is fairly new, and has a small number of partners at this point.

“Field Effect is a technology partner, who is our first API integration, and has integrated it into the service that they offer,” Gaudet said. Field Effect’s Covalence threat detection, incident monitoring, and analysis solution now has real time malware and phishing protection added from the D-Zone DNS Firewall.

“They are cybersecurity situational analysts,” Gaudet indicated. “Their services don’t block. They look inside the network, to detect intrusions and manage the threat landscape. Our firewall does block. They leverage our full REST API to add DNS blocking into their product, which will now automatically configure a customer to use our DNS. It also gives them more threat data.”

CIRA’s goal is to extend these integrations further.

“A DNS firewall blocking service has opportunities to integrate into many services, such as endpoint protection,” Gaudet said. “Security vendors would integrate with a service like ours to add DNS protection for their customers in Canada. We are already working with some ISPs where they configure to use our service. Now that we have an API, that makes it much more manageable.” While it is not an SDK [Software Development Kit], Gaudet said that it is very straightforward and easy to work with.

“It’s a full REST API which does API calls, and is fairly low complexity.”

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