Recent Articles

 

Workshop on DNS Future Root Service

December 2014

The theme of a workshop, held at the start of December 2014 in Hong Kong, was the considerations of further scaling of the root server system, and the 1½ day workshop was scoped in the form of consideration of approaches to that of the default activity of adding further anycast instances of the existing 13 root server anycast constellations. This was a workshop operating on at least three levels. Firstly there was the overt agenda of working through a number of proposed approaches that could improve the services provided by the DNS root service. The second was an unspoken agenda concerned with protecting the DNS from potential national measures that would “fragment” the DNS name space into a number of spaces, which includes, but by no means not limited to, the DNS blocking activities that occur at national levels. The third level, and an even less acknowledged agenda, is that there are various groups who want to claim a seat at the Root Server table. more...

 


The Resolvers We Use

November 2014

The Internet's Domain Name System is a modern day miracle. It may not represent the largest database that has ever been built, but nevertheless it's truly massive. The DNS is consulted every time we head to a web page, every time we send an email message, or in fact every time we initiate almost any transaction on the Internet. We assume a lot about the DNS. For example, content distribution networks are observed to make use of the location of the DNS resolver as being also the same location as the user. How robust is this assumption of co-locality of users and their resolvers? Are users always located "close" to their resolvers? More generally, what is the relationship between the end user, and the DNS resolvers that they use? Are they in fact closely related? Or is there widespread use of distant resolvers? more...

 


Who's Watching?

November 2014

It's been more than a year since Edward Snowden released material concerning the activities of US agencies in the area of cyber-intelligence gathering. A year later, and with allegations of various forms of cyber spying flying about, it's probably useful to ask some more questions. What is a reasonable expectation about privacy and the Internet? Should we now consider various forms of digital stalking to be "normal"? To what extent can we see information relating to individuals' activities online being passed to others? more...

 


ECDSA and DNSSEC

October 2014

Yes, that's a cryptic topic, even for an article that addresses matters of the use of cryptographic algorithms, so congratulations for getting even this far! This is a report of a an experiment conducted in September and October 2014 by the authors to measure the extent to which deployed DNSSEC-validating resolvers fully support the use of the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) with curve P-256. more...

 


NANOG 62

October 2014

NANOG 62 was held at Baltimore from the 6th to the 9th October. These are my observations on some of the presentations that occurred at this meeting. more...

 


Privacy and Security - Five Objectives

October 2014

It has been a very busy period in the domain of computer security. What with "shellshock", "heartbleed" and NTP monlink adding to the background of open DNS resolvers, port 445 viral nasties, SYN attacks and other forms of vulnerability exploits, it's getting very hard to see the forest for the trees. We are spending large amounts of resources in reacting to various vulnerabilities and attempting to mitigate individual network attacks, but are we making overall progress? What activities would constitute "progress" anyway? more...

 


Internet Regulation: Section 706 vs Title II

October 2014

At the NANOG meeting in Baltimore this week I listened to a presentation by Patrick Gilmore on “The Open Internet Debate: Section 706 vs Title II”. It’s true that this is a title that would normally induce a comatose reaction from any audience, but don’t let the title put you off. Behind this is an impassioned debate about the nature of the retail Internet for the United States, and, I suspect, a debate about the Internet itself and the nature of the industry that provides it. more...

 


How Big is That Network?

October 2014

There is a careful policy path to be followed that encourages continued investment and innovation in national telecommunications-related infrastructure and services, while at the time same time avoiding the formation of market distortions and inefficiencies. What helps in this regulatory process is clear information about the state of the industry itself. One of those pieces of information concerns the market scope of the retail Internet Service Provider sector. To put it another way, how “big” is a particular network? How many customers does it serve? Is its market share increasing or falling? more...

 


What's So Special about 512?

September 2014

The 12th August 2014 was widely reported as a day when the Internet collapsed. Despite the sensational media reports the following day, the condition was not fatal, and perhaps it could be more reasonably reported that some parts of the Internet were having a bad hair day. What was happening was that the Internet’s growth had just exceeded the default configuration limits of certain models of network switching equipment. In this article I'll look at how the growth of the routing table and the scaling in the size of transmission circuits impacts on the internal components of network routing equipment. more...

 


The Cost of DNSSEC

August 2014

If you’re playing in the DNS game, and you haven’t done so already, then you really should be considering turning on security in your part of the DNS by enabling DNSSEC. There are various forms of insidious attack that start with perverting the DNS, and end with the misdirection of an unsuspecting user. DNSSEC certainly allows a DNS resolver to tell the difference between valid intention and misdirection. But there's no such thing as a free lunch, and the decision to turn on DNSSEC is not without some additional cost in terms of traffic load and resolution time. In this article, I'll take our observations from running a large scale DNSSEC adoption measurement experiment and apply them to the question: What’s the incremental cost when turning on DNSSEC? more...

 


Where is Metadata Anyway?

August 2014

There is an emerging picture that while networks, and network operators, make convenient targets for various forms of national security surveillance efforts, the reality of today’s IP network’s are far more complex, and Internet networks are increasingly ignorant about what their customers do. The result is that it's now quite common for Internet networks not to have the information that these security agencies are after. Not only can moderately well-informed users hide their activities from their local network, but increasingly this has been taken out of the hands of users, as the applications we have on our smartphones, tablets and other devices are increasingly making use of the network in ways that are completely opaque to the network provider. more...

 


What is Metadata and Why Should I Care?

August 2014

August 2014 is proving yet again to be an amusing month in the Australian political scene, and in this case the source of the amusement was watching a number of Australian politicians fumble around the topic of digital surveillance and proposed legislation relating to data retention measures. more...