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AuDA starts final round of DNSSEC tests

August go-live

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AuDA has taken a tentative step towards the introduction of DNSSEC into the Australian domain space, signing the .au domain in its production environment as the first step in a four-month test.

DNSSEC has been possible for years, but has been held back by industry inertia. Under DNSSEC, a DNS (domain name system) record is signed, allowing resolvers to authenticate the relationship between domain name and IP address.

The glacial rollout has, however, gathered some small momentum in response to the increasing use of the DNS as an attack vector (for example, via redirections). Last year, Google began validating DNSSEC records in its public DNS resolvers.

The problem for the ordinary sysadmin is that DNSSEC is needed all the way up the chain, from their own site back to the root zone – meaning that AuDA rollout is a vital step in the deployment of the protocol for .au sites.

AuDA explains that it has taken a cautious approach over the last 18 months because the protocol “introduces a new level of risk for registry operators. DNSSEC requires the inclusion of cryptographic keys in the DNS and at times frequent editing of a zone file. This level of interaction and the complexity of cryptographic keys increase the risk of error during a zone change or update. An error made to a signed zone can cause a zone to appear offline or bogus to validating resolvers”, the organisation writes.

Right now, the body says, the signed .au zone is experimental. Over the next four months, the group plans to use the signed domain to finish testing its own processes for supporting signed domains, including production load tests, testing signing events, and helping second-level domain owners add their own signed records into the .au zone.

The plan is that on August 28, AuDA will submit its record to IANA – and DNSSEC will be available for .au domain owners. ®

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