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Educause Announces Plans To Sign .edu TLD With DNSSEC 49

jhutkd writes "Educause (who run the .edu gTLD) announced today that they will deploy DNSSEC and sign the .edu zone by the end of March 2010. This will enable all educational institutions to benefit from deploying DNSSEC via the secure delegation hierarchy starting with IANA's ITAR (a temporary surrogate for the root zone signing), going through .edu, down to schools, and potentially leading all the way down to individual departments. Unlike larger gTLDs like .org, the churn of adding new and deleting old zones in .edu is much lower (due to the fact that there are tight controls on who may register for a delegation). Thus, many of the hassles of adding new DS records and maintenance procedures might be more manageable and help speed DNSSEC's rollout in this branch of the DNS hierarchy."
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Educause Announces Plans To Sign .edu TLD With DNSSEC

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  • Good FA (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:23PM (#29303409) Homepage Journal

    Very informative and well written, kudos to the submitter. For those who don't want to RTFA and wonder what DNSSEC is (not all of us are computer nerds)

    Over the years, Internet security experts have discovered a variety of ways that DNS translation may be compromised. The DNSSEC security system limits the problem by allowing owners of domain names to provide a digital signature that adds an extra level of authentication to the translation process.

    • Re:Good FA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:37PM (#29303595) Homepage

      One thing that I'm not clear on at all but would like to understand is, is there any chance that DNSSEC will let us get rid of SSL certificate authorities?

      Maybe that's a dumb question, but what I have in mind is this: if we can provide authenticated/signed pairing of DNS information to IP addresses, could we also put a SSL certificate into the mix and therefore know that the SSL cert is valid for that domain name? Wouldn't that at least give us SSL certs that verified the site was owned by the person who owned the domain, even if it didn't do any kind of "Extended validation" stuff?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jhutkd ( 217409 )

        You've actually hit onto something that some people think is _very_ important:


        By putting the fingerprint of your SSL cert in a DNS record, you could do something like what you are suggesting... ymmv

        • Yes, and this also exists today (assuming you have working DNSSEC) for OpenSSH.

          That is, OpenSSH is already programmed to be able to confirm a remote host fingerprint by looking in DNS. This means "ssh foo.example.com" would reliably connect you to the machine that example.com's owners call 'foo' subject only to interference from the COM registry operator and the DNS root. If someone spoofs DNS, DNSSEC will report it, if they try to spoof the machine itself or TCP/IP, the OpenSSH fingerprint won't match. If

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, DNSSEC guarantees (via digital signature) that the DNS lookup for www.mycompany.com returns the correct IP address

        SSL certs will guarantee that your browser's connection to that IP address (via https) is not being hijacked by a MTM adversary

        Two very different attack vectors being protected there

        And if you think Verisign, Twarte, et al, are going to give up that lucrative business, you so crazy

        • Re:Good FA (Score:5, Informative)

          by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @04:14PM (#29304015) Homepage

          Are you aware that DNS has the ability to publish more than simply an IP address? Like say.. a key?

          If DNSSEC supplies a secure channel to a trusted authority (which it sounds like it does), then I see no reason why it can't replace the certificate authorities. Likely the biggest impediment to this is simply the time required for DNSSEC to be supported down to the individual machine level.

          • Like GP said.

            If you think Verisign is going to give up that lucrative business, you are crazy.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              Like GP said.

              If you think Verisign is going to give up that lucrative business, you are crazy.

              1) They don't have a choice in the matter.

              2) This is probably why they're pushing "Extended Validation" certs now.

          • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

            Simply ensuring your dns is not compromised is not enough. Just because you have correct DNS information does not ensure you know who your talking with, yes you have the right, IP,MX,TXT or whatever record but my evil router up stream can still NAT or route your traffic address to that IP to my evil spoofing web server.

            • Re:Good FA (Score:5, Informative)

              by RalphSleigh ( 899929 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @08:14PM (#29306321) Homepage

              But along with signing your DNS records, you can sign a text record containing a hash of your webservers SSL cert, that way anyone who can verify your DNS records can also check that the SSL cert they are being provided with belongs to the owner of the DNS entries. (You know these are correct and have not been MITMed because they are signed by the previous level of DNS, up to the root zone which you have to acquire in some secure way.

        • Re:Good FA (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday September 03, 2009 @05:46PM (#29305113) Homepage

          Yeah, I wasn't under the impression that getting rid of CAs was the purpose of DNSSEC, but it seemed like one possible side effect. Just to spell out my thoughts a bit more, when you say that DNSSEC guarantees that the DNS lookup returns the correct IP, I'm under the impression that "correct" is defined as "whatever the domain owner says is correct", i.e. it enables you to verify that whatever is in the DNS record is actually what the domain holder put in his DNS record.

          Now I'm not claiming to understand the intricacies of how DNSSEC works, but it seems to me that once you have a signature that is able to verify that information comes from a given domain owner, you probably have the infrastructure in place for passing other information comes from the domain holder, too. So even if DNSSEC can't do this right now, you've possibly laid the groundwork for someone to stick a public key into the DNS record for a given server. If you can verify that the public key given for a particular server is authentic, then that public key can be used to prevent a man-in-the-middle attack.

          I mean, ultimately what CAs are doing in most cases is verifying that a small bit of data, i.e. the public key for SSL encryption, is actually being provided by the domain that it's claiming to come from. If you can do this through your domain registrar and DNS servers, then CAs become unnecessary except for any extended validation of identity that you want to do.

          But this would be very important in my mind, because it might allow SSL to become essentially free in cases where extended validation isn't necessary.

      • This is a question you need to ask browser vendors. Putting a self-signed CERT in the DNS is relatively easy. There is even a specific record type, CERT, to store it in. Signing the records it the same as signing any other record in the DNS. The hard part is convincing browser vendors to look in the DNS for the CERT record and to establish the chain of trust back to a DNS trust anchor.

        To do this the browser needs secure path (by using TSIG, SIG(0) or TKEY) to a validating resolver it trusts and look at

        • Well I would guess that browser vendors would implement it if DNS records were generally signed and therefore trustworthy. Or at least decent browsers would.

    • By digitally signing DNS responses with public-key cryptography, we will be improving the security of one critical aspect of the Internetâ"the Domain Name Systemâ"which otherwise could be exploited for the purposes of fraud or even cyberterrorism. It is our hope that with widespread deployment DNSSEC will help improve Internet security for the higher education community.

      Some more information on why we need this can be found on Wikipedia's page for DNS cache poisoning [wikipedia.org]. It's great this is going out to the "higher education community" but when is it going to catch on world wide? Is it like IPv6 where we need to wait for a catastrophic failure? One day when www.google.com resolves to the IP of www.malwareinyourface.com for some noticeable fraction of the populace?

    • Yes, very well written. And in other news, DOE to do NEPA's EIS on BNFL's AMWTP at INEEL after SRA protest [probablybadnews.com].
  • Hm. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I understand most of the words, but I don't understand the implication. Will somebody please form a car analogy?


    • Re:Hm. (Score:5, Informative)

      by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:31PM (#29303513)

      The itnernets is a freeway.
      Each top level domain is a lane on that freeway.
      The .edu lane on the freeway will soon be secured with DNSSEC.

      DNSSEC is basically a signature on all the freeway signs.

      school.edu - 5 miles


      school.edu - 5 miles
      -Signed by school.edu

      This way those punks at pornschool.com can't put up their own fake freeway signs that say "school.edu - next exit" in an attempt to make you get off when you don't want to.

    • It means that you can find your car in a parking garage potentially filled with cars nearly identical to yours. Moreover, your key will only fit your car.

    • Re:Hm. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:36PM (#29303591) Homepage Journal

      Okay. Educause Motors Corp. makes a model called the EduCar that they will sell only to educational institutions, like college campuses or school districts. Earlier models didn't have locks or keys, but instead used a system whereby you had to show to your educational institution paperwork to the onboard camera before you could open the door. Once inside, you have push-button start. The new EduCar will feature secure keys and locks, but you still need to show your educational paperwork to get one.

      Other models, which require no educational paperwork, are available from a wide variety of manufacturers such as GoDaddy Motors, Network Solutions Motors, Register Motors, etc., will continue to sell their ComCars, OrgCars, NetCars, etc. without keys or locks.

    • Re:Hm. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hijacked Public ( 999535 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:37PM (#29303597)

      It would be like if your car's PCV valve required a permissive signal from the EGR valve via CAN-BUS linkage to MPI and DOHC. The ECR module would then TBI the MPG and various other RWHPs. Failing that the EFI unit ATF AC unit BTDC more of the CCs than CUINs. As long as your crank was CCW and you had COPI you would be good to go. Unless the CTVS was broken. In which case both your FWD and 4WD was unusable. You'd need to measure MAP and calibrate the VSS or you'll go WOT, and with NOS then you will likely exceed the allowable RPMs.

      DOHV. OD. LED taillights. HO engine. blah blah blah.

  • I, For One, (Score:3, Funny)

    by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:29PM (#29303489)
    Welcome our new .edu domain-name-securing overlords.
    • That was lame. Apparently when it comes to DNS jokes, you're not that .educable.

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        th.at w.as la.me. Apparent.ly when .it com.es .to DNS jok.es, you'.re not th.at .educable.

        FTFY. You're education wasn't sufficiently international.

        (Austria, American Samoa, Montenegro, Libya, Italy, Spain, Tonga, Spain, Reunion, Austria, if anyone's wondering.)

  • Administratium (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:33PM (#29303543)

    Unlike larger gTLDs like .org, the churn of adding new and deleting old zones in .edu is much lower (due to the fact that there are tight controls on who may register for a delegation). Thus, many of the hassles of adding new DS records and maintenance procedures might be more manageable and help speed DNSSEC's rollout in this branch of the DNS hierarchy.

    Right. It's the administrative costs that are keeping it from being deployed. Sex.com sold for $14 million. I'd be willing to guess that the namespace of domains worth > $1,000 is totals several hundred million. Right now, the security to protect the aforementioned virtual properties is like a vault with a screen door out the back. It's a source of great internal amusement to me that in the real world our schools have some of the worst physical security, but soon they'll have some of the best digital security.

  • .bnk? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @03:41PM (#29303633)

    Can't they just use DNSSEC for banks (optionally give a tld for anything financial)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by trajik2600 ( 944364 )
      And a .419 TLD for the scammers :-p
  • by nomadic ( 141991 )
    I don't understand your crazy moon-man language.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Thursday September 03, 2009 @09:11PM (#29306759)

    This is offtopic, but important.

    Look at how few people comment on this article, which is a very important step forward for the Internet, yet there are 3 to 4 times more comments on the article about running Linux on a Kindle.

    Since Slashdot is basically a representation of the OSS and technical worlds view on things, its very sad that people who are supposed to be intelligent, thoughtful creatures get excited over something as pointless as running Linux on Kindle, but care so little about something that is important to the Internet as a whole.

    I realize that most people here are Linux fanboys (and this is one time I'm not saying it to be insulting, I'm a FreeBSD fanboy for instance, its okay as long as you are rational about it) so that means Linux related topics are going to get more coverage here, but ... 3 to 4 times more people care about running Linux on a device like the Kindle than DNSSEC for a TLD ... thats just freaking sad to me :(

    • This is a function of how many /. readers are hostmasters/HNIC's for TLD's. The people with a hardcore interest in this have already done it for their domain (or it doesn't matter to them because their tld isn't signed, and so even if they signed it, there would be an ultimate break in the chain). I wouldn't expect a /. story about enterprise-level hardware or software that only fortune 500 companies use to have a lot of comments either; the reader base is small to begin with. Kindle's are dirt cheap in com
    • Speaking as someone at an .edu, we all saw this news yesterday. There are many other venues besides Slashdot that cater to higher ed IT, and it's being discussed elsewhere.

      I wouldn't call the low comment count a sign of disinterest, but rather a sign that there aren't a lot of our peers here so it's not a productive forum for this sort of thing.


  • ...when will .edu be open to non-US schools? (besides a couple isolated top-notch schools)

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!