The operators of the .edu domain are planning to enhance security for .edu Web sites, in a move experts say is long overdue.
Once the new system is in place, work that is expected to be completed by March of next year, it should be harder for a third party with bad intentions to take control of .edu sites protected by the security system. Called Domain Name System Security Extensions, it uses a digital signature to verify that the site being visited is in fact the site it purports to be. People browsing Web sites will be less likely to be redirected to malicious sites posing as legitimate ones.
Web sites ending in .edu will be able to opt into the security system. A spokesman for Educause, a nonprofit group that operates the .edu domain in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce, said he expects colleges and universities will quickly take advantage of it.
Virgil Gligor, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and co-director of a cybersecurity center based there, said most Web sites do not use the security system now because switching to it requires investing time and money. Though individual sites can use the system, enabling an entire domain is the best way to fend off attackers, he said.
“It’s a major Internet infrastructure improvement,” Mr. Gligor said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”