Handshake is a naming protocol that’s backwards compatible with the existing DNS system. It does not replace the DNS protocol, but instead expands the root zone file where TLD ownership information is stored and the root servers with a distributed and decentralized blockchain-based system, which nobody controls and anybody can use. This allows the root zone to be uncensorable, permissionless, and free of gatekeepers like ICANN.

Every peer in the Handshake network cryptographically validates and manages the root zone, which also removes the need for the Certificate Authority system (CAs) entirely. Names are logged on the Handshake blockchain, which is essentially one big distributed zone file that anyone has the right to add an entry in.