IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications

Impact of configuration errors on DNS robustness

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During the past twenty years the Domain Name System (DNS) has sustained phenomenal growth while maintaining satisfactory user-level performance. However, the original design focused mainly on system robustness against physical failures, and neglected the impact of operational errors such as misconfigurations. Our measurement efforts have revealed a number of misconfigurations in DNS today: delegation inconsistency, lame delegation, diminished server redundancy, and cyclic zone dependency. Zones with configuration errors suffer from reduced availability and increased query delays up to an order of magnitude. The original DNS design assumed that redundant DNS servers fail independently, but our measurements show that operational choices create dependencies between servers. We found that, left unchecked, DNS configuration errors are widespread. Specifically, lame delegation affects 15% of the measured DNS zones, delegation inconsistency appears in 21% of the zones, diminished server redundancy is even more prevalent, and cyclic dependency appears in 2% of the zones. We also noted that the degrees of misconfiguration vary from zone to zone, with the most popular zones having the lowest percentage of errors. Our results indicate that DNS, as well as any other truly robust large-scale system, must include systematic checking mechanisms to cope with operational errors. © 2006 IEEE.