Home / Blogs

DNSSEC Adoption Part 1: A Status Report

Don't miss a thing – sign up for CircleID Weekly Wrap newsletter delivered to your inbox once a week.
Dr. James Galvin

Where is the domain industry with the adoption of DNSSEC? After a burst of well publicized activity from 2009-2011 — .org, .com, .net, and .gov adopting DNSSEC, roots signed, other Top-Level Domains (TLDs) signed — the pace of adoption appears to have slowed in recent years.

As many CircleID readers know, DNSSEC requires multiple steps in the chain of trust to be in place to improve online security. Those are:

  1. The TLD Must Be Signed – Major TLDs such as .org, .info, .com, and .net have been signed, as have a good number of ccTLDs. All new gTLDs must sign the TLD zone and must accept public key material from registrars, but they are not required to enforce signed second level delegations.
  2. The Registrar Must Support DNSSEC – The registrar where the domain is registered must support DNSSEC. ICANN requires that a registrar must be able to add, remove, or change public key material (DNSKEY or DS resource records) on behalf of registrants for those registries that require it (see point 1).
  3. The DNS Hosting Provider Must Support DNSSEC – Very often a registrar may also provide DNS Hosting services — where they will host the domain name's DNS records, allow management of those records, and publish them to the global DNS. Regardless of whether DNS hosting is provided by the registrar or by another company DNSSEC support is required.

Of course, for DNSSEC to be useful, both the server side and validation on the client side must support signed domains. Client-side validation is moving in a positive direction. In late 2013, APNIC Labs produced research that demonstrated that roughly 8 percent of global DNS queries involved some kind of DNSSEC validation. Last month APNIC unveiled a global validation graph that showed DNSSEC validations increasing to 12 percent.

In the United States Comcast (the country's largest ISP) has adopted client-side validation. Some countries like Sweden and Estonia see a majority of queries using DNSSEC validation. DNSSEC technology standards have been stable and mature since 2007, with only updates, clarifications, and new functionality added since then. "Waiting until the standards are final" is no longer a valid reason to delay deployment.

Authoritative DNS is very mature, and it's easy to get access to DNSSEC information once it is deployed. DNSSEC has been included in every major name server implementation for a few years now. Second level domains can now be signed, but adoption at that level has been frustratingly slow, due to the lack of service provider support (see point 2 above).

The final step in the deployment of DNSSEC is the use of validated information by services and applications to provide enhanced and innovative security services to users, with browsers obviously being first in line. Businesses need to see better online security as a market advantage — especially financial services firms.

More signed domains are needed to demonstrate full viability, and that's currently a huge gap in the DNSSEC chain of trust. New TLDs will help to some degree, but more needs to be done. There are two obstacles standing in the way of more secure domains, one related to policy and one technical.

On the policy side, the new ICANN policy for gTLDs mandates signed TLD zones, but not signed second level delegation. In addition, the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) requires registrars to offer "DNSSEC services," but only for those registries that require it.

On the technical side, it is not possible for a gTLD domain name registration with active DNSSEC to be transferred from one registrar to another without breaking the security chain of trust.

Part Two of this series will address impediments to greater DNSSEC adoption.

By Dr. James Galvin, Director, Technical Standards at Afilias. Dr. Galvin is a key leader of the Afilias technical team with over 25 years of Internet standards and policies development experience.

Related topics: DNS Security, Domain Names, Security, Top-Level Domains



impediments to adoption Carl Byington  –  Sep 08, 2014 9:13 PM PDT

for i in {google,facebook,youtube,yahoo,baidu,twitter,amazon,qq,linkedin}.com wikipedia.org ; do echo $i; dig $i ds +short; done

When *none* of the top 10 (according to Alexa) have bothered to sign their domains, my clients ask "why should I bother?".

Is there *any* major US bank that signs their primary domain?

Yes, Comcast and Google and many others have validating resolvers, but if no one of consequence signs their domains, it won't matter in the long run.

Nope, bank adoption is quite pathetic John Hascall  –  Jan 07, 2015 1:17 PM PDT

I don't know about "any" major US Bank, but I checked the top 20 from http://www.ffiec.gov/nicpubweb/nicweb/top50form.aspx and didn't find any.

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Sponsored Topics

Promoted Posts

Now Is the Time for .eco

.eco launches globally at 16:00 UTC on April 25, 2017, when domains will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. .eco is for businesses, non-profits and people committed to positive change for the planet. See list of registrars offering .eco more»

Boston Ivy Gets Competitive With Its TLDs, Offers Registrars New Wholesale Pricing

With a mission to make its top-level domains available to the broadest market possible, Boston Ivy has permanently reduced its registration, renewal and transfer prices for .Broker, .Forex, .Markets and .Trading. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

5 Afilias Top Level Domains Now Licensed for Sale in China

Radix Announces Largest New gTLD Sale with Casino.Online

2016 Year in Review: The Trending Keywords in .COM and .NET Domain Registrations

Global Domain Name Registrations Reach 329.3 Million, 2.3 Million Growth in Last Quarter of 2016

A Look at How the New .SPACE TLD Has Performed Over the Past 2 Years

Verisign Releases Q4 2016 DDoS Trends Report: 167% Increase in Average Peak Attack from 2015 to 2016

Neustar to be Acquired by Private Investment Group Led by Golden Gate Capital

Startup League Reports from WebSummit, Lisbon

Verisign Q3 2016 DDoS Trends Report: User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Flood Attacks Continue to Dominate

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

.SPACE Becomes the Choice of the First Ever Space Nation Asgardia

Government Guidance for Email Authentication Has Arrived in USA and UK

ValiMail Raises $12M for Its Email Authentication Service

MarkMonitor Supports Brand Holders' Efforts Regarding .Feedback Registry

Don't Gamble With Your DNS

8 Tips to Find Your Perfect .COM Domain Name

Why .com is the Venture Capital Community's Power Player

Defending Against Layer 7 DDoS Attacks

Understanding the Risks of the Dark Web