DNS inventor decries security in-fighting

IETF is a debating society, chides Mockapetris.

Years of in-fighting over the DNSSEC standard have left Internet users unnecessarily exposed to malware.

That's according to DNS (Domain Name System Security Extension) inventor, Paul Mockapetris, who said that the 15 years in which the DNSSEC standard was debated by the IETF was far too long-winded a process and meant that security issues in the standard DNS infrastructure had not been addressed. He added that the Kaminsky flaw identified earlier this year was an example of the vulnerabilities in the infrastructure.

Dr Mockpetris, chairman of Nominum, said that when he wrote DNS back in the 80s, security was intentionally left out, with the idea that it would be added later. He said that while DNSEC had now reached its final stages, there still was no mass take-up of the standard.

"So far only Sweden and Puerto Rico have signed up to implement DNSSEC," he said.

He pointed that the one of the main problems facing organisations wanting to implement was the complexity. He said that much of the discussion on DNSSEC had taken place at techie level - "it's for what I call the people in the white coats" - and that had yet to moved to a wider world, preventing organisations from adopting it.

"You tell them that one of the things you have to do is set up a Perl script and run a CRON job - that's like talking a different language to them, " he said.

He said that not only had the Kaminsky flaw highlighted the vulnerability of DNS itself, but that there was the additional problem that too many servers are misconfigured. "We know that about half of all DNS servers have not been set up properly," he said. This was endorsed by the findings of Infoblox whose survey last week found that 10 percent of DNS servers have known vulnerabilities.

Mockpetris said that Nominum was tackling DNS security by implementing its own architecture, TRUE. He said that this would be based on the company's own DNS server Centris and an additional feature MDR (malicious domain redirection).

He said that the new architecture, which was being deployed by Colt Italy to prevent access to illegal gambling and child pornography sites, would considerably enhance the security offered by service providers. "It's not perfect," he said, "but it does offer considerably more protection and will help the providers support their own users."

He said that on the whole DNS was holding up well. "When I designed DNS, I was expecting to support about 50m servers, it now has more than one billion. Even allowing for the factor of six that engineers will allow for, that's many times more than I was expecting."

Mockapetris said that DNSEC should extend the life of the technology but was cognisant of the fact that it wouldn't last for ever. "If you want to be remembered for 200 years, write music not software," he added wryly.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.


Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Maxwell Cooter

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?