Chapter 6. Securing Domain Name Services (DNS)

One of the most fundamental and necessary Internet services is the Domain Name Service (DNS). Without DNS, users and applications would need to call all Internet hosts by their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses rather than human-language names that are much easier to remember. Arguably, the Internet would have remained an academic and military curiosity rather than an integral part of mainstream society and culture without DNS. (Who besides a computer nerd would want to purchase things from rather than from

Yet in the SANS Institute's recent consensus document, "The Twenty Most Critical Internet Security Vulnerabilities" (, the number-three category of Unix vulnerabilities reported by survey participants was BIND weaknesses. the Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) is the open source software package that powers the majority of Internet DNS servers. Again according to SANS, over 50% of BIND installations are vulnerable to well-known (and in many cases, old) exploits.

So many hosts with such vulnerabilities in an essential service are bad news indeed. The good news is that armed with some simple concepts and techniques, you can greatly enhance BIND's security on your Linux (or other Unix) DNS server. Although I begin this chapter with some DNS background, my focus here will be security. So if you're an absolute DNS beginner, you may also wish to read the first chapter or two of Albitz and Liu's definitive book, DNS and BIND (O'Reilly).

If even after all this you still mistrust or otherwise dislike BIND and wish to try an alternative, this chapter also covers djbdns, a highly regarded alternative to BIND. In addition to listing some of djbdns' pros and cons, we'll discuss rudimentary djbdns installation and security.