The Importance of DNS

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the hierarchical decentralized naming system, created over thirty-five years ago to provide interconnectivity between online systems and provide the routing protocols for Internet traffic.  In other words, it is the fundamental addressing system that is used by all devices that connect to the Internet, providing a standardised protocol for users and machines alike.

The DNS system translates memorable and meaningful domain names into numerical IP (Internet Protocol) addresses needed for locating and identifying devices on the Internet.  It is the phone book of the Internet, with entries added, deleted and amended in real-time every second in an invisible way.

With over 360 million registrations, domain names are part of the everyday fabric of our digital world.  They are used by organisations to proactively grow revenues and customers, whilst being an integral part of defensive strategies that prevent reputational damage.

Today, more than ever, the importance of choosing a DNS partner is critical for organisations.  The global pandemic saw a huge rise in the demand for bandwidth, as the world adopted and adapted to a new way of working, with the DNS system now handling over 2 trillion queries every day.  With an increase in legitimate DNS queries has come the unwelcome increase in malicious activity, with bad actors looking to compromise DNS infrastructure for their own personal and financial gain.  The loss of control of a critical domain name or a website being unavailable even for a short period of time will cause revenue and reputational damage for organisations, which is why working with a trusted DNS partner is key for organisations.

It isn’t just the volume of DNS attacks that has increased but also the variety.  In recent years there has been a significant rise in Distributed-Denial-of-Services (DDoS) attacks, which target the DNS infrastructure of organisations or DNS providers with huge volumes of DNS queries to prevent legitimate requests from reaching web servers and accessing websites and online services.  DNS providers such as NS1 are able to rapidly identify these attacks and prevent malicious traffic from disrupting normal operations which not only include websites but email services.

Whilst the nature of attacks has changed, the traditional threat of DNS hijacking or cache poisoning is still a real and legitimate threat.  These attacks are based on bad actors gaining access to DNS tables within a registry and changing the IP address so that legitimate website traffic using a particular domain name is redirected to another website, often without the user recognising there is an issue.  The use of registry locks, where possible on mission-critical domain names, is a key tool in preventing such threats, ensuring that only authorised personnel are able to make changes to the DNS settings for a domain name.

The importance of DNS and its role in keeping organisations present and protected online is a key business priority for CTOs and CSOs.  Having robust security policies that encompass the use, and protection, of domain names as key digital assets is vital, which is why choosing an Enterprise DNS partner who has a globally distributed network of DNS nodes is key.  Major DNS outages or security incidents are now headline news for all the wrong reasons, damaging not only revenue but the reputations of organisations.  Working with a trusted DNS partner will reduce the exposure to risks and vulnerabilities that can wreak havoc.

It is imperative that organisations ensure that key infrastructure is protected in a world of increasing digital threats.  Using enterprise-grade DNS ensures that critical domain names that support websites, online applications and email addresses continue to function, even if there is a DDoS attack on the network.

DNS services come in all shapes and forms.  At their heart they ensure domain names resolve to where they should.  The key test comes when the network is put under stress, either by an increase in legitimate traffic or by nefarious sources.  For many organisations, the key question is can they afford to risk their domain names stop functioning because of the limitations of their DNS network.

In our next blog post, we take a look at the benefits of an annual DNS Health Check.

To discuss more about how we can provide premium DNS services, please contact us.

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