Three Root Servers Knocked Out By Attacks; Internet Keeps On Ticking

from the is-that-all-you've-got? dept

There's been some fear in the past about the fact that a key part of keeping the internet running, the core "root servers," are somewhat vulnerable. There are only 13 root servers, and taking them all out would cause quite a problem. So far, though, attacks have been unable to do so. Nearly five years ago, all 13 were attacked, taking out seven or eight of them for a period of time -- though the others picked up the slack and there were no noticeable problems. The latest story is that some sort of attack from hackers took down three of the servers, the biggest attack since the ones in 2002. Some of the attacks went on as long as 12 hours. Again, there was no noticeable impact for most users. However, the question is being raised again about whether using just 13 root servers is really safe. A few years back, there was a suggestion that it might be a lot safer to set up some sort of peer-to-peer system to better distribute the root servers among many more machines. It doesn't seem like that idea got much traction (and it certainly has its downsides as well), but it will be interesting to see if the latest attacks get people discussing this question once again, and whether or not they have any creative solutions.
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  1. identicon
    Dosquatch, 7 Feb 2007 @ 8:54am


    The local domain name servers store information about domains so the majority of the internet would continue to function for a relativly long time even if all of the root servers were taken out.

    This isn't quite true either. It is true that your local DNS caches lookups, and will serve from the cache directly if it has an entry. It has to refresh that entry from time to time, though, based on the "time to live" (TTL) dictated by the authoritative server for the query (meaning Google's, or TechDirt's, or whatever - not yours). Your server will refresh from its upstream server, which will refresh from its upstream server. Eventually everything leads back to the TLD. If the TLD is gone, the refresh doesn't happen.

    The effects would start showing immediately, and DNS would effectively die somewhere around the median TTL set by servers worldwide. That'd be about 1 to 2 days.

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