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> DNSSEC is a terrible, terrible idea.

DNSSEC is a terrible, terrible implementation. All of your criticisms are valid but none of them are inherent to the idea of authenticating DNS resolution.

That basically means we need to start over from scratch, which is unfortunate, but now tell me if we did we couldn't address your complaints:

1) It isn't necessary. Sure, we can work around the lack of DNS authentication, but then we end up with the horrible CA system. Can we really not do any better than that?

2) It's centralized and government-controlled. So don't sign the root. Instead of hard-coding the root key in the resolvers, hard-code the keys for each TLD. Being able to pick which government can forge your signatures is the best you're going to be able to do; the authority doing the signing is going to exist in somebody's jurisdiction.

3) DNSSEC's cryptography is weak. So use different cryptography. Elliptic curve keys and signatures are an order of magnitude smaller than RSA anyway, which also reduces the DNS DoS amplification potential by that amount.

4) Resolver APIs don't provide good information about why resolution failed. So provide a new API that provides better errors. Put it right in the new RFC. Then you only get validation if you use the new API and nothing changes for existing applications.

5) Deployment is expensive. Why isn't deployment automatic? The default configuration for a DNS server should be to generate a signing key for each domain on first run and then automatically sign all the records with it. If you're paranoid and you want to keep your signing keys offline then you can configure that manually, but nobody has to. And the higher level domain should be able to get the signing key from the lower level domain as soon as you add the NS record, and then confirm with the administrator that it's the right key the same way as with ssh host keys.

6) DNSSEC isn't validated by the endpoints. As far as I can tell there is no actual reason for this even with existing DNSSEC. The client can ask its DNS cache for each of the signing keys up to the root and then check the signatures. A new pseudo-RR that would return the entire chain would make this more convenient, and couldn't really be used for DoS because only recursive resolvers and not authoritative servers would answer that query. Validating clients without validating caches could still fall back to asking for each individual record.

7) Authoritative denials leak information. NSEC5 is supposed to fix this, but there is a much easier way: Sign a denial key which can itself only be used to sign denials and keep it on the authoritative server. The idea that someone who compromises your authoritative servers will be able to deny service to your DNS clients is already sort of implied.

The problem is, even though you could theoretically do all of those things to DNSSEC itself, those aren't even the only problems, and trying to patch all the warts in something nobody is even really using is only going to make something which is already unnecessarily complicated even worse. What is needed very much is a clean slate.

But that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing.

The most important TLDs are controlled by world governments. COM and NET are essentially USG properties. What's the most popular TLD outside the original TLDs? IO. Guess who controls IO? GCHQ, the world's most unhinged signals intelligence agency.

Moreover, how can it possibly be sane for us to deploy a security system that protects end-users from NSA only if Google is willing to move Gmail off of COM?

If NSA subverts a CA today and uses it to MITM Gmail, a substantial fraction of all browsers on the Internet will detect that and alert Google, because of key pinning. When that happens, Google will nuke that CA from orbit. If NSA is dumb enough to subvert a CA that's hard to nuke, Google will start a process of employing code-level restrictions on that CA that will for a substantial portion of all Internet users make that CA asymptotically approach "useless" for NSA's purposes.

If NSA does a QUANTUM INSERT-type attack to selectively poison .COM lookups in order to use TLSA to get a target to eat a fake certificate, what does Google do? Nuke COM from orbit?

DNSSEC is a terrible, terrible idea.

The solutions to those problems aren't possible within the DNS but they also aren't incompatible with it. There is no reason you can't use both DNSSEC and key pinning, and the .com registrar does not want to get caught forging signatures for the NSA.

The .COM registrar is controlled by NSA.

That doesn't mean they want to get caught forging signatures. It would destroy their credibility and cause people to take additional countermeasures. In theory the community could revoke their control over the TLD.

But I'm trying to understand your objection here. DNSSEC/DANE replaces domain validated certificates. I understand your objection to be that we don't want the registrar to be in the chain of trust; but they already are. If you can forge the target's DNS records from the registrar's servers then you can get a domain validated certificate from any CA. The ability to control the DNS records of the domain is the thing they're verifying. The difference with DANE isn't that the registrar is in the chain of trust, it's that the CA isn't. It causes you to have to trust strictly fewer third parties. There is no less vulnerability to or recourse against the registrar than there is now.

To do better than that you need to do something more than domain validation. But how does replacing domain validated certificates with DANE prevent any such additional checks from being done?

Just to be clear:

> DNSSEC/DANE replaces domain validated certificates.

DNSSEC/DANE can be used to replace CA-issued certs, but it can also be used to add an extra layer of validation to existing CA-issued certs. To me this is actually the strongest use-case for DANE, as it provides a means to use DNSSEC to ensure that you are using the correct TLS certificate.

More info is here:


The four modes are:


0 – CA specification – The TLSA record specifies the Certificate Authority (CA) who will provide TLS certificates for the domain. Essentially, you are able to say that your domain will ONLY use TLS certificates from a specific CA. If the browser or other application using DANE validation sees a TLS cert from another CA the app should reject that TLS cert as bogus.

1 – Specific TLS certificate – The TLSA record specifies the exact TLS certificate that should be used for the domain. Note that this TLS certificate must be one that is issued by a valid CA.

2 – Trust anchor assertion – The TLSA record specifies the “trust anchor” to be used for validating the TLS certificates for the domain. For example, if a company operated its own CA that was not in the list of CAs typically installed in client applications this usage of DANE could supply the certificate (or fingerprint) for their CA.

3 – Domain-issued certificate – The TLS record specifies the exact TLS certificate that should be used for the domain, BUT, in contrast to usage #1, the TLS certificate does not need to be signed by a valid CA. This allows for the use of self-signed certificates.


Modes 0 and 1 work with current CA-issued certs and assume that normal PKIX X.509 validation is occuring.

It can not be used this way. Adam Langley explained why. It has to do with the way browsers work. If there are 4,392 trusted CAs today, DNSSEC will make it 4,393. In practice, DNSSEC strictly makes the CA system worse.

People involved in DNS standardization clearly believe this isn't the case, and that there's a spectrum of different ways DNSSEC will interact with the CA system. They also believed in Interdomain IP Multicast and SNMPv3. The track record of DNS standards people on browser technology is not good. In this case: I suggest taking AGL's word for it.

Thomas, I definitely defer to AGL when it comes to browser technology - and I've certainly read his "Not DANE" piece, but you'll note he did not entirely rule it out. He just said it may be "a long way out". Two comments:

> It can not be used this way.

Actually, it can be. There's a modified version of Firefox maintained by the team at the DNSSEC-Tools project called "Bloodhound" that does DNSSEC validation of every link and does DANE checks on TLS certs:


> If there are 4,392 trusted CAs today, DNSSEC will make it 4,393.

Hmmm... I guess I see that only if you were using modes 2 and 3 of DANE. If you are using 0 and 1 you are just using DANE as an additional check for the CA-issued CERT.

The value to me is that I am in control of the TLSA record in that I am publishing that in my own zone file on my own DNS servers. I can specify there precisely which TLS cert I want to use or which CA I want to be trusted for my domain.

My choice is then cryptographically signed via DNSSEC and bound into the global chain of trust via DS records going back up to the root of DNS.

It would still be better than nothing, and would be easier to deploy. DNSCurve would also be good though.

No, it is is substantially worse than nothing, and catastrophically expensive to deploy.

I am talking about the new version the parent proposed, not the current DNSSEC.

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