Discover a new approach to domain name ownership. Handshake is a peer-to-peer network using blockchain technology — like a secure public registry. It means bypassing the traditional organizations and registries that call the shots online — offering you more freedom, control, and security over your domain.
You're also free to choose unique domain names that aren’t limited to .com, .org, .net, and other traditional domain extensions. But you'll still have the data protection, privacy, and expert support you already get with Namecheap.
Your Handshake domain makes you a part of the growing effort to progressively decentralize the world wide web.
As the web becomes less centralized, the power is shifted into the hands of domain name owners — with minimal gatekeeping and oversight.
Handshake domains are distributed on a blockchain, which provides more resistance to security scams and hacking attempts.
Progressively decentralizing the web creates a more egalitarian online space where technologies are powered by the Internet community rather than a few stakeholders.
As Handshake is right at the forefront of building a freer and more open Internet, most browsers aren’t set up to navigate to HNS domains. Fortunately, there are simple ways to enable your browser or device to recognize and resolve these new domains.
Access your Handshake domain using one of the resolvers listed below. It’s an easy, free, and fast way to make sure your browser can navigate to any HNS domain.
Some VPN services also include an option to resolve Handshake domains. For example, VPN users may be able to switch their selected name server to Handshake Naming System instead of the default domain name system. If you’re already a VPN user, check to see if this is an option your service provides.
The Handshake software’s full node (HSD) is a great option for managing a Handshake domain. HSD acts as a resolver and allows you to register, update, and transfer names or make blockchain payments. Another option is the software’s light client (HNSD), which is better suited to those who just want to be able to resolve Handshake names without using the computing power required to run the full node.
With HDNS, you can access Handshake websites directly in your browser using an encrypted DNS protocol, which helps to protect against DNS spying and tampering. This is a public resolver option, and there’s no signup process required. You’ll still be able to access regular sites as well, like Google, YouTube, etc. To use HDNS, you’ll need to change the DNS server settings on your computer. Simple, easy-to-follow instructions are provided here.
Simply enter your site address in the search bar at the top of the HNS.to page to access a Handshake domain. Alternatively, you can affix "hns.to/" directly before your site address. This easy, convenient option requires no changes to your current DNS settings.
We want a free and open Internet for everyone.
Namecheap’s Handshake domains are part of an effort to progressively decentralize the web, which means the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has less control over them. Our focus is on building a better online world together, and a more decentralized Internet aligns perfectly with our way of thinking.
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The Handshake Naming System (HNS) is a new approach to the Internet that uses a decentralized system with blockchain technology to offer a freer and more secure option for web users. Handshake offers access to new domains that you won’t find with most domain name registrars.
Instead of working within the traditional naming conventions of the Domain Name System (DNS), which consists of familiar options like .com, .org, and .gov, Handshake allows for millions of new, unique domains. These names are available on the Handshake blockchain — which is free from oversight from organizations like ICANN — to give owners more control over their websites.
A top-level domain (TLD) is the final segment of a domain name in a website address — like .com, for example. TLDs are sometimes referred to as domain extensions.
TLDs represent the highest level of the Domain Name System (DNS), which uses a naming hierarchy to point computers to the correct website. In the DNS, common TLDs include .com, .org, .net, .gov, and .edu. The DNS strictly limits the number of available TLDs, and each one is listed on an independent registry and controlled by an ICANN-approved registrar.
With Handshake, thousands of new TLDs are up for grabs, including options available through Namecheap like .creator, .elite, and .orb. These domains are registered on the blockchain, which gives TLD owners the ability to operate independently.
A second-level domain (SLD) is the part of a website address that comes directly before the top-level domain (TLD). For example, for the web address example.com, “example” is the SLD and “.com” is the TLD.
Internet users can go to a domain name registrar to secure an SLD. However, their website will ultimately be overseen by the outside agency which administers their site’s TLD.
At Namecheap, SLDs can be paired with new Handshake TLDs registered on the blockchain. This represents a shift toward decentralization, with progressive steps that help to grant users less oversight, more freedom, and enhanced security.
No. At this time, Namecheap is only registering second-level domains (SLDs) for a select number of top-level domains (TLDs). These are available at affordable yearly rates, creating an opportunity to snatch up web addresses with new Handshake domains.
This also allows users to experience some of Handshake’s key benefits without the high upfront cost of purchasing a TLD, the stress of the auction process, or the hassle of investing in HNS tokens. Instead, you can select your own SLD, pair it with one of Namecheap’s Handshake TLDs, and register a memorable web address for personal or business use.
Currently, Handshake TLDs are available to anyone with HNS coins through an online auction on websites like Namebase. For more information on the auction process and using Namebase, check out Handypedia.
A Handshake domain functions just like traditional domains available through the domain name system (DNS) when accessed with a DNS resolver. However, using a Handshake domain provides a few key advantages, including:
• Online freedom: Handshake minimizes the role of centralized authorities, which means more freedom of expression online. At the same time, the blockchain ensures the permanence of each Handshake site, thereby eliminating the chance of outside interference and creating a corruption-resistant online space.
• Safe from seizure: The blockchain-based system means that Handshake TLDs can’t expire, be deleted, or be seized by the government, ICANN, and other authorities.
• Protection without CAs: Handshake users don’t need a Certificate Authority (CA) to act as a middleman for verification and security. Instead, Handshake domain owners sign and control their own private keys for authentication purposes.
• More privacy: Users enjoy more anonymity when they use Handshake compared to traditional domains, which have to be registered with a third party.
• Unique web addresses: Handshake offers a number of distinctive TLDs to set your identity apart. Examples include .pgp, .p, and .j.
Regular domains like .com and .org are under the control of ICANN. When you have a Handshake domain, it’s under your control. You’re free to use it as you please without oversight or censorship from outside organizations.
Another benefit of choosing a Handshake domain is enhanced security. Most websites are verified by certificate authorities (CAs). If a CA is attacked, sites may be susceptible to massive phishing scams, arbitrary take-downs, or data breaches. That’s not a concern when you’re using a domain on Handshake’s blockchain.
Once you’ve registered your Handshake domain, you can use it however you like. There are a number of practical uses for Handshake domains, including:
• Build a website: Just like you can create a website with a traditional domain name, you can also use your Handshake domain to host your own personal or business website.
• Redirect to another site: If you already have a website, you can use your Handshake name to point to it. The unique domains available through Handshake, such as .p, .oh, and .sox, add a distinctive element to your web address and can act as URL shorteners that are easy to remember.
• Create a cryptocurrency wallet: A Handshake domain can serve as a secure wallet for your cryptocurrency. The address can even be used to make or receive payments online.
The process to register a Handshake domain on Namecheap is the same as registering a traditional DNS domain.
Simply search for an available name, click the “HNS” button on the right-hand side of the search bar, and view the available Handshake domain extensions from our list. Choose the name you want, then add it to your Shopping Cart. Click on the Checkout button when you’re ready to make your purchase. Then, you can log in to your Namecheap account (or create one) to configure your domain. More information on how to register a domain with Namecheap can be found here.
Most browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge, aren’t compatible with the Handshake blockchain by default. However, if you use one of the recommended DNS resolvers for Handshake domains, your browser will be able to navigate to any Handshake website.
In order to access Handshake domains, users need a DNS resolver.
This is a tool that allows computers to connect to the Handshake blockchain, which most web browsers aren’t able to access by default. But once you set up your resolver, you’ll be able to navigate to Handshake domains just like you would any other web address.
There are a number of DNS resolver options that work with Handshake, including NextDNS, VPNs, and HSD/HDNS nodes. More on that here.
Both Unstoppable Domains and ENS have some limitations that you won’t find on HNS, including:
• Limited domains: The domains you can use are limited with ENS (.eth) and Unstoppable Domains (.crypto or .zil). Handshake, on the other hand, offers practically unlimited domains.
• No root zone: Rather than replacing DNS, Handshake only replaces the root zone file by connecting certificates and names to its own blockchain. With Unstoppable and ENS, domains aren’t anchored by a root zone, which limits full ownership of the domain.
• Progressive decentralization: Because Handshake functions more smoothly within the existing DNS framework, it offers a stepping stone on the way to decentralization, which encourages user adoption. Unstoppable and ENS represent a more abrupt shift to decentralization that makes them harder to integrate for most Internet users today.
• No unique blockchain: Neither Unstoppable nor ENS has its own cryptocurrency. HNS, the native crypto token for Handshake, exists on its own blockchain that functions independently of other blockchains, which helps to ensure security and privacy for users.
Namecoin was an earlier attempt to decentralize the Internet that came before Handshake. Though the effort had many of the same goals as the current Handshake network and also used a fork of Bitcoin as its cryptocurrency, it ultimately was not successful.
Fortunately, the experts behind Handshake were able to learn from some of the issues that Namecoin encountered.
For example, Handshake is easier to use, integrates more seamlessly with the existing DNS system, and has an auction process that makes it more accessible to individuals as well as corporations. It also uses Simple Payment Verification (SPV), which allows domain names to be resolved on the Handshake blockchain without having to download the blockchain’s full state.
Namecoin launched at a time when blockchain technology was less widely accepted and understood. Handshake is primed for success now that most Internet users are already well aware of blockchains, cryptocurrency, and their benefits.
Blockchain is a type of digital database that is assembled like a chain. Information or data is grouped into blocks. Each block is chained to the previous block, creating a “chain” of information. This chronological structure makes it easy to see when blocks were added to the chain.
A key difference between blockchain and other digital databases is that the computers storing this information are not all kept under one roof or controlled by a single entity. Instead, the computers are spread out geographically and are operated by individual blockchain users, creating a decentralized, peer-to-peer network.
When blockchain is used for a currency like Bitcoin, it functions similarly to a ledger. Every Bitcoin transaction ever made is stored on the Bitcoin blockchain. Because of the structure of blockchain, no users can tamper with the information recorded within it, which helps to protect Bitcoin transaction history.
With Handshake, domains are stored on and can be purchased from the blockchain. Due to the decentralized nature of this system, there’s no third party (like ICANN) that controls, owns, and leases domains to users.
Instead, anyone can purchase, register, and manage a Handshake domain. The blockchain technology helps to protect these domains, which are purchased with HNS, a type of blockchain cryptocurrency.
• What are HNS coins?
HNS coins are a decentralized digital currency.
Essentially, it’s Handshake’s own type of cryptocurrency. The HNS asset itself is necessary for the bidding, registration, and renewal of domains on the Handshake public blockchain, and is essentially a form of “gas” that is spent by users of the protocol to handle domain-related transactions on its network.
A hefty portion of HNS was airdropped to open source developers as a token of gratitude for their role in developing Handshake.
Like Handshake’s naming system, HNS coins are managed on the blockchain itself. That means transactions involving HNS coins are handled through an uncensorable peer-to-peer network. By eliminating the involvement of outside parties like banks, this process reduces risks related to security and privacy and creates a more equal playing field for people interested in registering Handshake domains.
• What is the value of an HNS coin?
As with other currencies, the value of Handshake coins fluctuates according to market conditions.
As more users purchase HNS and the demand for Handshake domains increases, the value of this cryptocurrency is also expected to increase. Additionally, as the network matures and is more widely adopted, HNS is continually “locked up” to create new domains on its network, reducing the amount of the asset in circulation and increasing the value and demand of Handshake coins and related domain names.
Current prices for Handshake crypto can be viewed at CoinMarketCap.
• Where can you buy HNS coins?
In order to purchase Handshake coins, you first need to purchase Bitcoin (BTC). Your BTC can then be traded for HNS and used in the online auction process to purchase a Handshake top-level domain. Namebase also offers an option to buy HNS directly with USD. Learn more about buying handshake coins here.
• How can you buy a Handshake domain with HNS?
There are two ways to purchase a Handshake top-level domain (TLD):
Online auction: Unclaimed Handshake TLDs are purchased with HNS through a sealed-bid auction, meaning that participants don’t know what other people are bidding. The winner of the auction pays the price of the second-highest bid. To learn more about the auction process, go here.
Purchase from an owner: If someone already secured a Handshake TLD via auction, they can choose to list it for sale. That domain can then be purchased directly from the owner with HNS.
Namecheap currently registers domains with a select number of Handshake TLDs. However, Handshake TLDs are available to anyone with HNS coins on websites like Namebase.
No, you don’t need to have HNS to get your own Handshake URL. On Namecheap, you can register a Handshake domain with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account. You can also add funds to your Namecheap account using BTCPay (more on that here).
Some people argue that the Internet is already fairly decentralized considering that anyone can connect through any Internet Service Provider. So, with alternatives like Handshake, it’s important to consider what pros and cons a decentralized web (dWeb) has to offer.
A decentralized web (dWeb) offers a number of advantages for users, including:
• Less censorship: There is minimal gatekeeping and oversight on decentralized systems, which gives users more opportunities for open expression.
• More security: The use of the blockchain provides increased resistance to security scams and hacking attempts.
• Increased innovation: The dWeb can encourage more innovation when it comes to open source development of online products and tools.
• Internet equality: Users of decentralized systems have more power than in online spaces where a few organizations hold most of the power.
There are also some limitations and possible drawbacks to decentralized systems on the web, such as:
• Ease of access: dWeb applications typically require additional steps to access compared to traditional browsers (like setting up a DNS resolver, for example), which could inhibit user adoption.
• Regulatory and legal risks: Because there is less oversight on the dWeb, it’s also more difficult to police cybercrimes like online harassment and child abuse images. If crimes are detected, it won’t be immediately clear which country’s laws should apply to each website.
• Personal responsibility: Individual dWeb users own all of their activity and data online, which requires increased responsibility on a personal level. For example, sites like Facebook and Twitter can try to limit the spread of misinformation online, but that type of oversight isn’t available on decentralized systems.
While no domain is completely protected against all types of security risks, the fact that Handshake domains are registered on the blockchain does make them more resistant to attacks. When registering a Handshake domain, your security level is closely tied to how well the owner or administrator of the top-level domain (TLD) manages their keys and whether they follow good security practices.
That’s why it’s a good idea to register your Handshake domain with Namecheap, where maintaining website security and privacy for every user is a top priority. We keep your personal data hidden with free Domain Privacy protection, and we never share any personal details you enter when registering your domain.