What is Handshake (HNS)?

Handshake (HNS) is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol where every peer is validating and responsible for managing the root DNS naming zone with the goal of creating an alternative to an existing certificate authority and naming system. Names on the internet (top-level domains, social media, etc.) ultimately rely on centralized actors who have full control over an honest-based system, as they are vulnerable to hacking, censorship, and corruption. Handshake aims to test new ways that the Internet can be more secure, flexible, and socially more useful with a peer-to-peer system validated by network participants. Handshake is an experiment that seeks to explore new ways in which tools are needed to build a more decentralized internet. Services on the internet have become more centralized starting in the 1990s, but have not met the original decentralized vision of the internet.


Features of Handshake

  • A base layer for the decentralized internet. The Internet is arranged in layers; to decentralize the internet, we need to start from the lowest layers of the stack. Secure naming ensures user agents are talking to the right endpoints – the place for minimal global consensus.
  • Decentralization is most successful if we have the minimum areas to reach a complete global agreement. Name and signing certificate could be one of the few positions of the global agreement for the decentralized web. Handshake is a test structure for reaching that deal through software.
  • True decentralization, no official singular foundation, committee, corporation, or entities in permanent unitary control of the protocol.
  • Economic incentives allow decentralized agreements to form through a transparent name auction process. Without some kind of economic cost function, one can register all names. The economic incentives allow decentralized Sybil resistance that would otherwise be centralized and corrupted.
  • Alternative to certificate authorities, using decentralized anchors to demonstrate domain ownership.
  • The zone file is distributed and is not allowed where any participant has the right to add entries or act as host and validator.
  • Light clients via marketized proofs and proof-of-work allow lightweight name resolutions and certificates. The original protocol allows for encrypted name proofs, with decentralized proof lookup capabilities often within the MTU limit.
  • A platform for Sybil resilience. WoT can / should be used as an extension, but it is often not a global agreement of resources for individual decentralized services. By using the name Handshake, one can know that some kind of economic limitation exists with respect to the use of names. This can be utilized whenever people are concerned about resource exhaustion, and reaching a global agreement on regulation is too costly.

What does Handshake do?

The handshake is an experiment of collaborating to create a decentralized network that leads to the global distribution of names. Think of the treatments or usernames you use on services like social media and domain names that define URIs for websites. Nearly all of these services are provided by trusted third parties, preventing the web from truly decentralizing.

Handshake provides the means, including key management and server/service authentication, for decentralized web services to experiment with. The Internet now relies on a single trusted Root DNS zone and a combination of private companies providing a trusted certificate authority for internet security. Handshake is an experiment and discovery of alternative options. By providing a way to do a hierarchical lookup of name records, one can generate a hash and key functions for identifying resources on decentralized networks without the need for a trustworthy certifier company.

How does Handshake work?

Handshake needs to reach a global agreement on its name and owner. To do this, they need to develop the order in which names were registered in a decentralized manner. In essence, they needed a decentralized global deal on ordering. Handshake uses its own blockchain to do so. Although there have been many misunderstandings about the purpose of blockchain, the main purpose is to schedule events that happen over time. If there’s no need to sort events, there’s no need to use a blockchain.

The Handshake blockchain creates an order of name registration, so it is known when a name was registered. Without the decentralized global agreement on the order of registration, they cannot know whether Alice owns the name or whether Bob owns it (Bob made a false statement about the registration after Alice signed up). Handshake so that everyone runs the same software rules so that everyone can come to the program agreement on name ownership. Once a name is registered, the owner has a cryptographic key under their control, which transfers ownership to themselves and can records on Handshake for identification, authorization, and locate resources related to their names. Since these records are also ordered, one may have better assurance about whether the records are expired or current.


Handshake is a blockchain protocol based on UTXO that manages the renewal, registration, and transfer of DNS top-level domains (TLDs). Their naming protocol differs from its predecessor in that it does not have the concept of namespaces or subdomains in the consensus layer. Its purpose is not to replace DNS, but to replace the root zone file and the root servers.

You can check the HNS price here.

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