Domain Name System (DNS)
The main name service, DNS (Domain Name Service or Domain Name System) is used throughout the Internet. Unlike HOSTS, it is hierarchical. This means that more than one level of name resolution is involved.
The successive levels denote more and more specific areas of authority, going from most general (and widest authority) in the rightmost component of the name, to most specific in the leftmost component.
Microsoft.com is an example of a 2nd level domain. At the 1st level is the (usually) primary domain suffix, usually three letters after the dot (.).
A registration for having a 2nd level domain is done through InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center). While domains are registered on a first come, first served basis, the authority reserves the right to revoke ownership if is a violation of another firms trademark. Most recently, InterNIC revoked a number of registrations based on the fact that squatters registered many thousands of names from one person. This speculation is forbidden.
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