Using Test Delegations from the Root Prior to Full Allocation and Delegation

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Authors Geoff Huston  , Olaf Kolkman  , Andrew Sullivan  , Warren Kumari  , George Michaelson 
Last updated 2013-10-19
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Network Working Group                                          G. Huston
Internet-Draft                                                     APNIC
Intended status: Experimental Protocol                        O. Kolkman
Expires: April 20, 2014                                       NLnet Labs
                                                             A. Sullivan
                                                               Dyn, Inc.
                                                               W. Kumari
                                                            Google, Inc.
                                                           G. Michaelson
                                                        October 19, 2013

   Using Test Delegations from the Root Prior to Full Allocation and


   The delegation of certain strings as generic Top Level Domains
   (gTLDs) will cause stability and security issues if such strings have
   been used in private environments prior to their delegation.  Test
   delegations can be used to enable empirical research on the extent of
   the possible collision prior to actual allocation and delegation of
   any label in the root zone.  This document describes one such
   approach to an empirical testing framework.

Status of this Memo

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   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 20, 2014.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction and Motivation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
     1.1.  Scire est mensurare  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Terms and Conventions Used in this Memo  . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   3.  Principle of Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.1.  Measurements Servers and Zones . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.2.  Query Generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     3.3.  Sampling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   4.  Evaluation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   5.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   6.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   Appendix A. Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8

1.  Introduction and Motivation

   [[The authors are aware that this version of the document is not
   fully consistent.  However they would value feedback on whether the
   idea is worth further study.

   A mail list to discuss this draft is]]

   While certain special names have been reserved for internal or
   private use [RFC6761], there is evidence [SAC45] that various sites
   connected to the Internet have used other names for internal
   purposes.  In fact, the Multicast DNS specification [RFC6762] advises
   not to use .local for private use and observes: "the following top-
   level domains have been used on private internal networks without the
   problems caused by trying to reuse ".local."  for this purpose:


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   In the event such names are delegated for use in the public DNS,
   there will be inevitable consequences for sites that have used those
   names.  Some of those consequences have security implications, with
   the potential for leakage of credentials and HTTP cookies
   ([RFC6265]). Responsible administration of the public namespace
   therefore requires great care in permitting public delegation of any
   name when there is good reason to suppose it is in widespread use as
   a private namespace, even though such private namespaces are (from
   the point of view of the DNS) irregular, even if common.

   One form of name collision involves network domains that use selected
   names as local-use top level domains, as noted in [RFC6762].  In the
   case where the same label is delegated in the global DNS as a gTLD,
   then hosts in the local domain will be unable to resolve domain names
   in the context of the gTLD. This state of name occlusion is further
   compounded by a number of scenarios where the resolution of a name is
   performed across multiple name scope domains.  This may happen with a
   mobile host, or even with applications, such as, for example, mail
   delivery (in the case where multiple MTAs who are listed as mail
   servers for a domain reside in different name scope domains, some of
   which have this name collision between the domain and locally defined

   Name collision opens up the potential for misdirection, where the
   named remote point being contacted by the application may not
   necessarily be the intended service point for the transaction.  When
   a host leaves the intranet environment, the host's applications may
   anticipate that the DNS names associated with a label return an RCODE
   3 (NXDOMAIN) response, but may encounter an unanticipated response
   when the gTLD is deployed with a colliding name.  Similarly, a host
   that has an association with a named service point within the gTLD
   may encounter unanticipated responses when the host is placed into an
   intranet environment where the same name exist as a locally-scoped

   There is a subtle form of interaction of names when the same name is
   placed on a local name search list.  Certain name resolver libraries
   first query the original name, and if the query returns an NXDOMAIN,
   then they apply the local search list to the original name.  When
   this process occurs in the context of a visible gTLD name colliding
   with the local name there is the possibility of the name resolving in
   the context of the gTLD, which then bypasses the application of the
   local search list.

1.1.  Scire est mensurare

   The local use of undelegated top-level domain names is troublesome
   because it may produce different user experiences depending on the
   locally used name, the names placed in a local search list and the
   location of a given host, and the host's name resolution behaviour.

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   Prudent operation of the root zone requires that deployment of new
   names in the root should not cause widespread untoward effects for
   users of the DNS, particularly when those users are relying on name
   resolution outcomes that have always been part of the name resolution
   behaviour up unto this point.

   What is useful in this context is a mechanism to test whether a
   particular delegation from the root zone presents a conflict with
   widespread local use.  This memo presents a methodology for making
   such a determination.

   The methodology considered here depends on temporary delegation of
   the top-level domains in question, and the use of a domain under an
   existing TLD in order to capture and compare queries generated by a
   large number of querying sources under the control of the experiment.

2.  Terms and Conventions Used in this Memo

   The mechanism outlined here is intended to complement the analysis
   already performed in "Name Collision in the DNS" [namecollision].  We
   therefore use the terms defined in section 1.1 of [namecollision]
   whenever appropriate.

   Note that the evaluation methodology outlined here is intended to be
   complementary input to a risk analysis e.g.  as found in
   [namecollision]; risk tradeofs are likely to include other factors
   than the effects measured herewith.

3.  Principle of Operation

   The goal of the experiment is to assess whether there is significant
   existing use of a given candidate string ("CandidateTLD").

   We propose the use of a software test that is executed by a large
   number of end hosts drawn from across the entire Internet.  The
   execution of this test will cause the end host to attempt to retrieve
   a small set of URLs.  This will trigger a set of DNS queries to
   resolve the domain name part of each URL, and subsequent HTTP queries
   to retrieve the object in the case that the DNS name is successfully
   resolved to an IP address.  Both the DNS queries and the HTTP
   requests are answered by dedicated servers that analyse the received
   responses and match them to the original set of queries that were
   used by the end host.  This will allow us to infer whether the lost
   is located in an context where there is name collision with the
   CandidateTLD. In this section we describe the query generation, data-
   collection, and analysis.

   This methodology is based on earlier work by APNIC [Method].

3.1.  Measurements Servers and Zones

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   In addition to the use of CandidateTLD, the methodology uses an
   additional name, delegated from a 'common' existing TLD,
   ("TestName.ExistingTLD") to the experiment's server.

   The experiment's name server is authoritative for CandidateTLD and
   TestName.ExistingTLD. The name server will respond to an A and AAAA
   query for any name within "TestName.CandidateTLD" with the IPV4 or
   IPv6 address of the experiment's HTTP server.  The name server will
   respond to queries for any other name within CandidateTLD with RCODE
   3 (Name Error or NXDOMAIN). The name server will respond to A and
   AAAA queries in TestName.ExistingTLD with the IPv4 or IPv6 address of
   the experiment's HTTP server.

   The experiment's HTTP server will respond with a "200 OK" for a
   request for the object "1x1.png" in TestName.CandidateTLD and in
   TestName.ExistingTLD. The server will respond with "404 Not Found"
   for any other object name.

3.2.  Query Generation

   The TestName is a synthetic name with no intentional semantic meaning
   ,that is generated in such a way to reduce the likliehood of
   collision with any existing delegated name.  It is suggested that it
   be generated by using the hex encoding of a randomly selected integer
   value between 1,000,000,000 and 2,000,000,000. The name must not be
   already delegated from the root or in the ExistingTLD.

   Each query set constitutes one "measurement".  A "measurement" is
   identified by a measurement identifier (<uniqueid>, syntactically a
   valid hostname) that is uniquely generated for each instance of a
   measurement.  This ensures that when the domain name is resolved, and
   when the named object is retrieved there is no occlusion of the
   interaction with the experiment's services because of local name or
   web object caches.  The set uses the following URLs:


      A: http://<unique_id>-a.TestName.CandidateTLD/1x1.png?

      B: http://<unique_id>-a.TestName.ExistingTLD/1x1.png?

      C: http://results.TestName.ExistingTLD/1x1.png?

   The A URL is intended to test if CandidateTLD is a locally used name.
   In other words, if local use of CandidateTLD occludes visibility of
   CandidateTLD as a gTLD. The DNS query for

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   <unique_id>-a.TestName.CandidateTLD will only be received by the
   authoritative name server for this name if there is no local name
   resolution function that uses the CandidateTLD name as a locally
   defined pseudo-top level domain.

   The B URL is intended to function as the control test for the
   experiment, and the use of ExistingTLD in B is intended to operate as
   a name that does not collide with a local use context.

   As the experiment uses the absence of a fetch of the A URL to infer
   the name resolution behaviour of the location where the measurement
   is being performed, it is necessary to ensure that the measurement
   code has run to completion.  The measurement code starts a timer at
   the start of its execution.  Upon expiration of the timer, or when
   both the A and B objects have been successfully retrieved, the code
   will schedule the retrieval of the C URL. The arguments to the C URL
   include the client-side measurement of the elapsed time to retrieve
   the A and B URLs.

3.3.  Sampling

   One way to perform this measurement is to embed the measurement in
   web content, using a scripting language.  When the web content is
   loaded the script is activated, and the measurement sequence is

   One way to distribute this content to clients to perform the test is
   via an online (ad) campaign.  If the measurement script is enclosed
   within the ad itself, then there is no reason for the campaign
   actually to cause users to click though in order to perform the test.
   Behavior of this sort is trivially achievable with a number of
   available online advertising systems.

   It is also necessary to spread the deliver of the ad to a very broad
   spectrum of clients, uso the as should be presented across all time
   zones, across all language bases, and across all geographic regions.

4.  Evaluation

   To evaluate the results, we take those measurements that return the C
   URL. The use of the C URL ensures that we use measurement results
   where the ExistingTLD name is not being locally occluded.  We count
   the number of experiments of each of the possible combinations of
   retrieving the A and B URLs.  These combinations are:


      Not A and Not B: This result contributes to experimental
         uncertainty.  (We know that ExistingTLD is not locally
         occluded, so the failure to retrieve B is due to other factors
         that are not being examined in the context of this

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      A and Not B: This result indicates that the client is able to
         resolve names in the CandidateTLD in the context of the global
         DNS, but the inability to retrieve the B URL contributes to
         experimental uncertainty.  (The same reasoning about the
         ExistingTLD and local occlusion applies to this case).

      Not A and B: This result is an indicator that the client's use of
         CandidateTLD is probably being occluded by some form of local

      A and B: This result indicates that the client is able to resolve
         names in the CandidateTLD in the context of the global DNS.

   If the CandidateTLD is in widespread private use then we would see
   the count of "Not A and B" be far in excess of the level of
   experimental uncertainty, then we can conclude that there are locales
   where the CandidateTLD is being used in local context.  Analysis of
   the source IP addresses of the clients that fetch "Not A and B", and
   the BGP Origin AS of these addresses and their geolocation may
   indicate if such local use is clustered in a particular network or
   group or networks, or clustered in a particular geography or language

5.  Security Considerations

   The delegation of the Proposed TLD (CandidateTLD) comes with some
   risk of interference with existing deployments.  In the case where a
   local system queries a name, and that query returns a NXDOMAIN
   response, then local system then queries further name forms where
   each entry on a local name search list is appended to the original
   name in turn, searching for a name response that is not NXDOMAIN.
   The delegation of CandidateTLD for this experiment may interfere this
   this behaviour.

   However, two observations mitigate this concern.  The first is that
   this situation of potential collision arises in the case where the
   local system is querying for the CandidateTLD name as a "dotless"
   name (as the only delegated subdomain in the CandidateTLD zone is
   TestName, which is intended to have no semantic meaning in any
   language). The second observation is that for such "dotless" names,
   the currently widely deployed name resolver libraries no not
   initially query the "dotless" domain name then apply the search list
   is the first query results in an RCODE 3 response.  Many name
   resolver libraries do not query for "dotless" domain names at all,
   while those libraries that have been observed to perform such queries
   (Windows XP, Linux, FreeBSD) perform them after using the local
   search name list, rather then before.

6.  References

   [Method]   APNIC, "APNIC Labs IPv6 Measurement System ", Doc.  number
              SC30-3587-01, May 2013.

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   [RFC6265]  Barth, A., "HTTP State Management Mechanism", RFC 6265,
              April 2011.

   [RFC6761]  Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Special-Use Domain Names",
              RFC 6761, February 2013.

   [RFC6762]  Cheshire, S. and M. Krochmal, "Multicast DNS", RFC 6762,
              February 2013.

   [SAC45]    ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee, "Invalid
              Top Level Domain Queries at the Root Level of the Domain
              Name System", 11 2010, <

              Interisle Consulting Group, "Name Collision in the DNS",
              August 2013.

Appendix A.  Acknowledgements

   This draft is a follow-up of, an borrows heavily from, our earlier
   (abbandonded) work on "A Procedure for Cautious Delegation of a DNS
   Names".  Discussion of that document in various hallways lead to
   inspiration for this document and we want to thank those that gave us

   The idea of using different names to trigger events in a DNS server
   is due to Geoff Huston.

Authors' Addresses

   Geoff Huston
   6 Cordelia St
   South Brisbane, QLD 4101

   Olaf Kolkman
   NLnet Labs
   Science Park 400
   Amsterdam, 1098 XH
   The Netherlands

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   Andrew Sullivan
   Dyn, Inc.
   150 Dow St
   Manchester, NH 03101

   Warren Kumari
   Google, Inc.
   1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy
   Mountain View, CA 94043

   George Michaelson
   6 Cordelia St
   South Brisbane, QLD 4101

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