Handshake is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol compatible with DNS where every peer is validating and in charge of managing the root zone with the goal of creating an alternative to existing Certificate Authorities. The Handshake protocol maintains the root zone file in a decentralized manner, making the root zone uncensorable, permissionless, and free of gatekeepers.

Rating: 4.0

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Location: N/A
Web-resources:   Whitepaper Website
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Product source tracking: https://github.com/handshake-org/
Details Description Risks Full analysis Team

Detailed review

Stage of product development
Run a testnet and mining Distributing coins for the FOSS community for further support the project
December, 2018
Launch the mainnet at the end of this year. Start first auctions for top-level domains Distribution of HNS tokens to contributors, open-source developers, universities, etc.
Token description
ICO date
Token price
Hard cap
Build on a fork of alternative bitcoin core full-node bcoin
Token distribution date
Consensus method
ICO currencies
Bounty camping
Token functions
The token in the system serves to pay a commission fee to network nodes, as well as a means of payment for creating/managing domain name rights.

- The project enters a practically monopolized market.

- ICANN is the only way to create a top-level domain right now. The entire market belongs to this organization.


- For wide distribution, the project needs implementation in large corporations and obtaining legal status in various jurisdictions.


- It is not clear whether large corporations and organizations will agree to move to the auction system.
- It is difficult to predict how such a technology will be taken by governments and ICANN, created by the US government.
- Legal issues are not covered. The project could face pressure or prohibition from centralized bodies such as ICANN and governments of different countries.


- $ 136 million of initial capitalization, which may lead to a strong fall in prices at the initial stage, in case of early listing.

- Experimental distribution system. It may turn out to be a strong point of the project or a trap for the project because it is very difficult to imagine how the network will be managed.


- The team consists only of developers, no business representatives.
- The central organization does not exist.
- The legal component of the project is not clear.

Full analysis

The project is entering a huge market for domain name naming systems. At the moment, the entire market is ruled by the DNS system, for which Handshake can serve not so much as an alternative, as an excellent addition. Today, DNS, distributed by nature, relies on centralized root zone servers. To access the site, a resolver (a client-side process requesting information on the compliance of a domain name with a specific IP address) must receive the correct information from the DNS server. This mechanism of operation has some vulnerabilities. From here several variants of attacks follow:

  1. The attacker takes control of multiple DNS servers or a whole CA DNS server

  2. Attacker floods with false DNS server cache information

  3. The attacker takes control of the registry file itself and forwards the user to phishing and unsafe sites, replacing IP

  4. DDoS attacks on CA and DNS servers

In addition, the creation of top-level domains and the management of the entire DNS system is in the hands of a single ICANN corporation created by the US government. Filing an application to create a top-level domain costs as much as $ 300,000, which, by the way, may be rejected.

Using Handshake, anyone can become a member of a protected distributed network that manages the root zone. Thus, it will be possible to create any top-level domains, and the creation of top-level domains will be much cheaper. Similar projects NNS and ENS are for information in the relevant networks NEO and ETH, they do not go beyond these networks, and therefore are not significant competitors.


Handshake develops an open platform, where each participant becomes a member of a distributed network, managing the root zone and its file embedded in the blockchain. This allows you to create top-level domains in a cheap and secure way. Primary files stored in a distributed registry. When creating a new name, the platform accesses the blockchain, checking the availability of the name, and then gives the new owner the appropriate rights, giving the owner, instead of an easily cracked SSL certificate, a cryptographic key. Proof of ownership is packed in a compact Merkle-proof file stored in the blockchain.

The full node of the HSD network is written in JavaScript and is a fork of the full bcoin node.
The hashed evidence of possession based on cryptography stored in the blockchain makes the attacks listed above impossible and significantly reduces the likelihood of successful DDoS attacks. In addition, such a system is completely censored. No state or organization can block a specific domain name.

The product is in the final stages of development. The testnet has been launched. At the end of the year scheduled to launch the main network.

Business model

Name creation and transfer of ownership are carried out through a transparent auction on the platform. As a payment for the creation/change of a domain name/transfer of rights, the native coin of the HNS network is used. In addition, HNS serves as the payment of fees to nodes for validating transactions on the network. In addition, the absence of a central authority and censorship allows you to create more and more new top-level domains and to issue cryptographic analogues of digital certificates in a much cheaper way.

The 100,000 most popular resources, according to Alexa statistics, are reserved Handshake for the possible transfer of these sites from a centralized SSL certificate to a blockchain proof of ownership of the site name.


The project team raised $ 10.2M as an investment in exchange for a 7.5% token, which gives us a huge initial capitalization of $136 million. The project attracted the best investors in the venture capital market, including a16z crypto, Sequoia Capital, Founders Fund, FBG, Polychain Capital and many other funds and individual investors.
An experimental token distribution scheme was applied for the funds raised. All the funds raised by the team donated to Open Source projects and developers, as well as 70% of the HNS airdrop coins will be distributed between verified Open Source projects and developers. Thus, project management is transferred into the hands of a FOSS community, which is about 300,000 thousand developers worldwide, who should get from 2.5 to 7.5k HNS, depending on their contribution to the creation of the Internet, as we see it now. In order to become a verified member of an airdrop, you must have an active account on GitHub and a valuable contribution to FOSS projects, have a PGP Web of Trust more than 60,000 or fill out an application and tell about your contribution.
Already, $10.2 million has been donated to many programmers and communities, including the Arch Linus, the Apache Software Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation, the OpenSSL Project, the Wikipedia, and many other famous programmers. Thus, the project has attracted investment with a capitalization of a pool of tokens of $136 million. However, there is a statement on the site that if the project’s capitalization reaches 50 billion over three years, the community should decide on a hard fork in order to increase the total supply to 2 times for the dissemination and adoption of technology around the world, which indicates the confidence of the creators of the project in success.


The team is a Foundation of many Open Source developers. The project site states that as soon as FOSS (Free / Libre and Open-Source Software) extracts all the coins, the foundation will disappear and transfer control to the existing community. The project does not have any advisors. There is no one, who responsible for the wide adoption of this protocol and its implementation by various organizations. Based on the analysis of GitHub, the main core of developers consists of 3 people:
Hans Schoenburg - is the creator of Handshake. Actively contributes to the project repository. He is the creator of several non-commercial Open Source projects, the most acclaimed of which is TLMworks - the creation of a team of programmers from imprisoned US prisons. The result of the project hit everyone. Of the 100 pilot students, no one returned to prison, although the average risk of relapse is 65%.

Boyma Fahnbulleh is an active contributor to bcoin and handshake. On his own website, he claims that he worked at chain.com, one of the very first blockchain startups, and was also a Senior UI engineer at SalesForce.
Chriss Jeffrey is one of the creators of bcoin. The most secretive of the trinity. Previous sites of activity could not be found. Other participants are not so active in the creation. In general, the team of contributors is about 10 people. All with great GitHub accounts. Most have extensive experience in open source and blockchain development. Thus, from a technical point of view, the team is very strong.

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