Back in January 1997, a group of people developed RFC 2065, Domain Name System Security Extensions, a document detailing the introduction of private/public key cryptography into the public DNS system. By adding cryptography to the DNS, users would be able to verify that DNS responses they receive are genuinely valid and accurate. The design of DNSSEC was updated in March 2005 by RFC 2535 but was never deployed.
In March 2005, RFCs 4033, 4034, 4035 were published, detailing a new version of the protocol named DNSSEC.bis. This version of the protocol is easier to understand and deploy, but was never widely paid attention to until the summer of 2008. Those of us in the industry knew that DNSSEC was important, but the operational management, increased query size, and technical problems with many implementations of DNS prevented it from being deployed.
The “DNS Summer of Fear” occurred in 2008, when security researcher Dan Kaminsky exposed a vulnerability in the DNS protocol where DNS cache poisoning could be achieved in just a few seconds allowing an attacker to spoof the DNS identify of a website. A short term fix, known as DNS Source Port Randomization, was deployed to help fend off attacks, while movement on a long term solution began work. The long term fix requires the use of DNSSEC to securely sign and validate the global DNS system, and with all things DNS, starts with the security of the DNS Root Zone, a.k.a “.”.
The DNS Root Zone is produced and maintained through a collaborate effort between ICANN, VeriSign, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. These three organizations have been extensively working to develop a secure and transparent way to manage the signing of the Root Zone since early 2009, and on July 15, 2010, the fruits of their labor will become reality when the signed root is deployed.
On June 16, 2010, the first of two Root Key Signing Key (KSK) generation ceremonies was performed at a secure ICANN facility in Culpepper, VA. On July 12, 2010, a second KSK ceremony will occur at a second secure ICANN facility in El Segunda, CA. The purpose of these ceremonies is to generate the specialized cryptographic materials needed to sign the root zone, distribute copies to two secure facilities, distribute the cryptographic fingerprint data to Trusted Community Representatives (TCRs) for verification, and to distribute crypto material to Recovery Key Share Holders in case of failure of these two ICANN facilities.
At Dyn, we await the deployment of the signed Root Zone with much excitement. A signed root zone means that key stakeholders are paying attention to the criticality of the DNS and the role it serves in the Internet. To do our part, we’ve taken the following steps to DNSSEC-enable our systems and infrastructure:
- We’ve prepared a DNSSEC implementation plan, posted at http://dyn.com/dynlabs-dnssec.
- We’ve enabled DNSSEC communication with the .org domain registry through DynDNS.com. DynDNS.com .org domain holders can submit DNSSEC trust anchors to the .org registry via our website.
- We’ve developed and maintain a complete key generation, key rollover, and zone signing system available to our DynECT Platform customers.
In the coming months, we’ll continue to enable DNSSEC communication with other registries, and develop additional ways to manage DNSSEC crypto material to provide our users with an easy and simple path to DNSSEC signing their DNS zones. In the meantime, we all look forward to the signed root deployment on July 15th.