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Spammers are straining the world's Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure. eWeek reports that emerging tactics - such as sending bulk mailings at night from very-recently registered domains - are placing a heavy load on DNS servers attempting to look-up non-existent domains.

Bulk mailers are adopting the 'registration after sending' ruse to make it more difficult for spam fighters to track junk mail attacks. But the side effects include widespread message congestion. The shutdown of domains by spammers shortly after a bulk mailout has been sent out can also tax DNS servers trying to resolve defunct domains.

Sysadmins can do little except provision extra capacity. Solving the problem might require a fundamental rethink of current internet architectures.

"We have to figure out how to taper DNS services gracefully rather than having catastrophic failures," Paul Mockapetris, DNS pioneer and chief scientist at Nominum, told eWeek. "Mail look-up was the first application put on top of DNS after I designed it, and I was so excited to see that. And now, 20 years later, people are trying to figure out how to stop doing mail look-up on DNS. It's bizarre."

DNS servers, which translate domain address into IP addresses, are used to direct billions of email messages every day as well as helping surfers to find their way around the net. ®

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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