Delegated alteration is an anti-theft mechanism supported by Namecoin. It allows a key to be authorized to alter the value of a name, but not transfer the name to a new owner. Example use cases:

  • You want to require authorization from multiple persons (e.g. via multisig) in order to transfer a name, but you want a single person to be able to alter the name’s value.
  • You want to require a hardware wallet (e.g. Trezor) in order to transfer a name, but you want to alter the name’s value on your regular computer.
  • You want to require your regular computer in order to transfer a name, but you want to allow a publicly facing server to alter the name’s value automatically (e.g. for dynamic DNS functionality such as provided by DyName).

To use delegated alteration, you register two names rather than one. The first name is in the d/ namespace as usual, and is the one that determines what domain name points to your name. The second name is in the dd/ namespace (dd stands for “domain data”), and can be any name you like (but shorter names will incur lower transaction fees). Let’s say that you register d/valuablename and dd/useless. You then set the value of d/valuablename to {"import":"dd/useless"}. You can then set the value of dd/useless to {"ip":""}. The result is that the domain name valuablename.bit will point to the IPv4 address The owner of dd/useless will be able to change the IPv4 address (or any other DNS records associated with the name), but will not be able to permanently steal valuablename.bit. If dd/useless gets stolen, the owner of d/valuablename can register a new dd/ name, change the value of d/valuablename to point to the new dd/ name, and the thief is left with a worthless dd/ name. There is no requirement that the d/ name and the dd/ name be held by the same wallet; e.g. you can store the d/ name with multisig or a hardware wallet while storing the dd/ name on an unencrypted hot wallet.

You can also use delegated partial alteration. This prevents the dd/ name from setting certain JSON fields. For example, you can set a tls field in the d/ name (alongside the import field), which will prevent the dd/ name from setting a tls field for that domain name. In this example, if the dd/ name is stolen, the thief could change the IP address but not the TLS fingerprint, which would prevent the thief from performing MITM attacks (even before you switch to a new dd/ name). If the thief does change the IP address to a server she controls, then visitors to the website will get a TLS error, which converts a MITM attack (very bad) to a DoS attack (much less bad).

You can also combine delegated alteration with delegated partial alteration by using recursive import fields. For example, you could register a d/ name that imports a dd/ name, which specifies both a TLS fingerprint and another dd/ name to import. The latter dd/ name would be prevented from specifying a TLS fingerprint, and any thief who steals either dd/ name would be prevented from transferring the domain name.