November 3, 2014
It’s in the news again. The Government of Mauritius has a web portal which is notorious for being in the news in a negative role. This saga won’t stop unless folks within the Government decide something concrete about the .mu ccTLD.
How is the Government domain made up?
The .mu part is managed by a private company. However, when someone buys a .mu domain name that person can configure his/her DNS settings accordingly. In the case of the Government of Mauritius, gov.mu is still owned & managed by the private company. That’s what can be seen from public queries.
Before we dig further & for those who need to catch up, let’s see how a Domain Name System (DNS) functions. When you type a web address in your browser’s address bar (e.g www.google.com) your computer needs to know which other computer on the Internet is actually www.google.com. Now, computers over the Internet recognize each other through numerical names; like www.google.com is 126.96.36.199. The translation of alphabetic domain names into numerical addresses is what is done by a Domain Name Server.
Yesterday, www.gov.mu went offline completely along with all its sub-domains. Oh! Wait. People in Mauritius didn’t notice that. A majority of Internet subscribers are on MyT/ADSL by Orange/Mauritius Telecom. Usually, your router sets your DNS settings & assigns the same as your ISP. In the case of MyT/ADSL, Mauritius Telecom’s DNS server has been set. Mauritius Telecom has kept its DNS servers continuously pointing to the Government Portal servers. This is a total contradiction of a proper Domain Name System as it is supposed to synchronize with registrars around the world. Alas! While gov.mu has been un-plugged, Mauritius Telecom still shows it as Live! This sends a dangerous signal that Government might corrupt ISPs (Internet Service Providers) for their own cover-up story. Mauritius Telecom servers should be up-to-date with registrars, there’s no escaping that, otherwise it’s a crap DNS.
Let's see what is broken with gov.mu...
Digging into the DNS configuration of gov.mu we notice it does not have an “A” record. In the Domain Name System, the “A” record refers to an “Address”; which is the IP (Internet Protocol) address of the computer to which the domain name is linked. The IP address is the same numerical name we referred in the beginning of the article.
Let’s see a proper DNS configuration, we’ll have a look at Yahoo’s:
At the time of writing this article another popular website was unavailable. It’s that of the Mauritius National Identity Card (MNIC) Centre.
While thousands of people are waiting for the court’s verdict regarding two cases against the State pertaining to the Biometric Identity Cards, MNIC Centre decides to close down their website. Good governance they say? Huh!
People seeking information regarding the Biometric ID Card will get the following in Google search results:
However, upon clicking on the address they will be welcomed by the following:
S. Moonesamy reported the same last night, publishing his observation.