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DNSSEC Lookaside Validation (DLV)

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 5074.
Author Samuel Weiler
Last updated 2020-03-26 (Latest revision 2007-09-14)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Informational
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state Became RFC 5074 (Historic)
Action Holders
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Russ Housley
Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                          S. Weiler
Internet-Draft                                              SPARTA, Inc.
Expires: March 15, 2008                               September 12, 2007

                   DNSSEC Lookaside Validation (DLV)

Status of this Memo

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, each author represents that any
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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2007).


   DNSSEC Lookaside Validation (DLV) is a mechanism for publishing
   DNSSEC trust anchors outside of the DNS delegation chain.  It allows
   validating resolvers to validate DNSSEC-signed data from zones whose
   ancestors either aren't signed or don't publish Delegation Signer
   (DS) records for their children.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  DLV Domains  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   4.  Overview of Validator Behavior . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   5.  Details of Validator Behavior  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   6.  Aggressive Negative Caching  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     6.1.  Implementation Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   7.  Overlapping DLV Domains  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   8.  Optimization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   9.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   10. IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   11. References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     11.1. Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     11.2. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   Appendix A.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 11

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1.  Introduction

   DNSSEC [RFC4033] [RFC4034] [RFC4035] authenticates DNS data by
   building public-key signature chains along the DNS delegation chain
   from a trust anchor.

   In the present world, with the DNS root and many key top level
   domains unsigned, the only way for a validating resolver
   ("validator") to validate the many DNSSEC-signed zones is to maintain
   a sizable collection of preconfiugred trust anchors.  Maintaining
   multiple preconfigured trust anchors in each DNSSEC-aware validator
   presents a significant management challenge.

   This document describes a way to publish trust anchors in the DNS
   outside of the normal delegation chain, as a way to easily configure
   many validators within an organization or to "outsource" trust anchor

   Some design trade-offs leading to the mechanism presented here are
   described in [INI1999-19].

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

2.  Architecture

   DNSSEC Lookaside Validation allows a set of domains, called "DLV
   domains", to publish secure entry points for zones that are not their
   own children.

   With DNSSEC, validators may expect a zone to be secure when they have
   one of two things: a preconfigured trust anchor for the zone or a
   validated Delegation Signer (DS) record for the zone in its parent
   (which presumes a preconfigured trust anchor for the parent or
   another ancestor).  DLV adds a third mechanism: a validated entry in
   a DLV domain (which presumes a preconfigured trust anchor for the DLV
   domain).  Whenever a DLV domain contains a DLV RRset for a zone, a
   validator may expect the named zone to be signed.  Absence of a DLV
   RRset for a zone does not necessarily mean that the zone should be
   expected to be insecure; if the validator has another reason to
   believe the zone should be secured, validation of that zone's data
   should still be attempted.

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3.  DLV Domains

   A DLV domain includes trust statements about descendants of a single
   zone, called the 'target' zone.  For example, the DLV domain could target the org zone and the DLV domain could target the root.

   A DLV domain contains one or more DLV records [RFC4431] for each of
   the target's descendant zones that have registered security
   information with it.  For a given zone, the corresponding name in the
   DLV domain is formed by replacing the target zone name with the DLV
   domain name.

   For example, assuming the DLV domain targets
   the org zone, any DLV records corresponding to the zone
   can be found at  DLV records
   corresponding to the org zone can be found at the apex of

   As another example, assuming the DLV domain targets
   the root zone, DLV records corresponding to the zone can
   be found at  DLV records corresponding
   to the org zone can be found at  And DLV records
   corresponding to the root zone itself can be found at the apex of

   A DLV domain need not contain data other than DLV records,
   appropriate DNSSEC records validating that data, the apex NS and SOA
   records, and, optionally, delegations.  In most cases, the operator
   of a DLV domain will probably not want to include any other RR types
   in the DLV domain.

   To gain full benefit from aggressive negative caching, described in
   Section 6, a DLV domain SHOULD NOT use minimally-covering NSEC
   records, as described in [RFC4470], and it SHOULD NOT use NSEC3
   records, as described in [I-D.ietf-dnsext-nsec3].

4.  Overview of Validator Behavior

   To minimize load on the DLV domain's authoritative servers as well as
   query response time, a validator SHOULD first attempt validation
   using any applicable (non-DLV) trust anchors.  If the validation
   succeeds (with a result of Secure), DLV processing need not occur.

   When configured with a trust anchor for a DLV domain, a validator
   SHOULD attempt to validate all responses at and below the target of
   that DLV domain.

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   To do validation using DLV, a validator looks for a (validated) DLV
   RRset applicable to the query, as described in the following section,
   and uses it as though it were a DS RRset to validate the answer using
   the normal procedures in RFC4035 Section 5.

   For each response, the validator attempts validation using the
   "closest enclosing" DLV RRset in the DLV domain, which is the DLV
   RRset with the longest name that matches the query or could be an
   ancestor of the QNAME.  For example, assuming the DLV domain targets the org zone, and there exist DLV
   RRsets named (applicable to org), (applicable to, and (applicable to,
   a validator would use the DLV
   RRset for validating responses to a query for

   The choice of which DLV record(s) to use has a significant impact on
   the query load seen at DLV domains' authoritative servers.  The
   particular DLV selection rule described in this document results in a
   higher query load than some other selection rules, but it has some
   advantages in terms of the security policies that it can implement.
   More detailed discussion of this DLV selection rule as well as
   several alternatives that were considered along the way can be found
   in [INI1999-19].

5.  Details of Validator Behavior

   As above, to minimize load on the DLV domain's authoritative servers
   as well as query response time, a validator SHOULD first attempt
   validation using any applicable (non-DLV) trust anchors.  If the
   validation succeeds (with a result of Secure), DLV processing need
   not occur.

   To find the closest enclosing DLV RRset for a given query, the
   validator starts by looking for a DLV RRset corresponding to the
   QNAME.  If it doesn't find a DLV RRset for that name (as confirmed by
   the presence of a validated NSEC record) and that name is not the
   apex of the DLV domain, the validator removes the leading label from
   the name and tries again.  This process is repeated until a DLV RRset
   is found or it is proved that there is no enclosing DLV RRset
   applicable to the QNAME.  In all cases, a validator SHOULD check its
   cache for the desired DLV RRset before issuing a query.  Section 8
   discusses a slight optimization to this strategy.

   Having found the closest enclosing DLV RRset or received a proof that
   no applicable DLV RRset exists, the validator MUST validate that
   RRset or non-existence proof using the normal procedures in Section 5

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   of RFC4035.  In particular, any delegations within the DLV domain
   need to be followed, with normal DNSSEC validation applied.  If
   validation of the DLV RRset leads to a result of Bogus, then it MUST
   NOT be used and the validation result for the original response
   SHOULD be Bogus, also.  If validation of the DLV RRset leads to a
   result of Insecure (the DLV record is in an unsecured portion of the
   DLV domain), then it MUST NOT be used and the validation result for
   the original response SHOULD be Insecure, also.  (It should be very
   odd, indeed, to find part of a DLV domain marked as Insecure: this is
   likely to happen only when there are delegations within the DLV
   domain and some portions of that domain use different cryptographic
   signing algorithms.)  If the validation of the DLV RRset leads to a
   result of Secure, the validator then treats that DLV RRset as though
   it were a DS RRset for the applicable zone and attempts validation
   using the procedures described in RFC4035 Section 5.

   In the interest of limiting complexity, validators SHOULD NOT attempt
   to use DLV to validate data from another DLV domain.

6.  Aggressive Negative Caching

   To minimize load on authoritative servers for DLV domains,
   particularly those with few entries, DLV validators SHOULD implement
   aggressive negative caching, as defined in this section.

   Previously, cached negative responses were indexed by QNAME, QCLASS,
   QTYPE, and the setting of the CD bit (see RFC4035 section 4.7) and
   only queries matching the index key would be answered from the cache.
   With aggressive negative caching, the validator, in addition to
   checking to see if the answer is in its cache before sending a query,
   checks to see whether any cached and validated NSEC record denies the
   existence of the sought record(s).

   Using aggressive negative caching, a validator will not make queries
   for any name covered by a cached and validated NSEC record.
   Furthermore, a validator answering queries from clients will
   synthesize a negative answer whenever it has an applicable validated
   NSEC in its cache unless the CD bit was set on the incoming query.

6.1.  Implementation Notes

   Implementing aggressive negative caching suggests that a validator
   will need to build an ordered data structure of NSEC records in order
   to efficiently find covering NSEC records.  Only NSEC records from
   DLV domains need to be included in this data structure

   Also note that some DLV validator implementations do not synthesize

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   negative answers to insert into outgoing responses -- they only use
   aggressive negative caching when looking up DLV RRs as part of their
   internal DLV validation.

7.  Overlapping DLV Domains

   It is possible to have multiple DLV domains targeting overlapping
   portions of the DNS hierarchy.  For example, two DLV domains, perhaps
   operated by different parties, might target the org zone, or one DLV
   domain might target the root while another targets org.

   If a validator supports multiple DLV domains, the choice of
   precedence in case of overlap is left up to the implementation and
   SHOULD be exposed as a configuration option to the user.  (As
   compared to the choice of DLV records within each domain, a
   precedence for which is clearly specified in this document.)  As a
   very simple default, a validator could give precedence to the most
   specific DLV domain.

   Some other reasonable options include:
   1.  Searching all applicable DLV domains until an applicable DLV
       record is found that results in a successful validation of the
       response.  In the case where no applicable DLV record is found in
       any DLV domain, the answer will be treated as Unsecure.
   2.  Applying some sort of precedence to the DLV domains based on
       their perceived trustworthiness.
   3.  Searching all applicable DLV domains for applicable DLV records
       and using only the most specific of those DLV records.
   4.  If multiple DLV domains provide applicable DLV records, use a
       threshold or scoring system (e.g., "best 2 out of 3") to
       determine the validation result.

   The above list is surely not complete, and it's possible for
   validators to have different precedence rules and configuration
   options for these cases.  [INI1999-19] discusses different policies
   for selecting from multiple DLV records within the same DLV domain.
   That discussion may also be applicable to the question of which DLV
   domain to use and may be of interest to implementers of validators
   that support multiple DLV domains.

8.  Optimization

   This section documents an optimization to further reduce query load
   on DLV servers and improve validator response time.

   Authoritative servers, when processing a query for a DLV RRset,

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   SHOULD include all DLV RRsets potentially applicable to a query
   (specifically, all DLV RRsets application to the QNAME and any of its
   ancestors) in the Additional section of the response as well as NSEC
   records proving the non-existence of any other applicable DLV records
   in the DLV domain.  Authoritative servers need only include DLV
   RRsets they're aware of -- RRsets in sub-zones may be omitted.

   Validators still seek out of the closest enclosing DLV RRset first.
   If they receive any data about other DLV RRsets in the zone, they MAY
   cache and use it (assuming that it validates), thus avoiding further
   round-trips to the DLV domain's authoritative servers.

9.  Security Considerations

   Validators MUST NOT use a DLV record unless it has been successfully
   authenticated.  Normally, validators will have a trust anchor for the
   DLV domain and use DNSSEC to validate the data in it.

   Aggressive negative caching increases the need for validators to do
   some basic validation of incoming NSEC records before caching them.
   In particular, the 'next name' field in the NSEC record MUST be
   within the zone that generated (and signed) the NSEC.  Otherwise, a
   malicious zone operator could generate an NSEC that reaches out of
   its zone -- into its ancestor zones, even up into the root zone --
   and use that NSEC to spoof away any name that sorts after the name of
   the NSEC.  We call these overreaching NSECs.  More insidiously, an
   attacker could use an overreaching NSEC in combination with a signed
   wildcard record to substitute a signed positive answer in place of
   the real data.  This checking is not a new requirement -- these
   attacks are a risk even without aggressive negative caching.
   However, aggressive negative caching makes the checking more
   important.  Before aggressive negative caching, NSECs were cached
   only as metadata associated with a particular query.  An overreaching
   NSEC that resulted from a broken zone signing tool or some
   misconfiguration would only be used by a cache for those queries that
   it had specifically made before.  Only an overreaching NSEC actively
   served by an attacker could cause misbehavior.  With aggressive
   negative caching, an overreaching NSEC can cause more broader
   problems even in the absence of an active attacker.  This threat can
   be easily mitigated by checking the bounds on the NSEC.

   As a reminder, validators MUST NOT use the mere presence of an RRSIG
   or apex DNSKEY RRset as a trigger for doing validation, whether
   through the normal DNSSEC hierarchy or DLV.  Otherwise, an attacker
   might perpetrate a downgrade attack by stripping off those RRSIGs or

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   RFC4034 Section 8 describes security considerations specific to the
   DS RR.  Those considerations are equally applicable to DLV RRs.  Of
   particular note, the key tag field is used to help select DNSKEY RRs
   efficiently, but it does not uniquely identify a single DNSKEY RR.
   It is possible for two distinct DNSKEY RRs to have the same owner
   name, the same algorithm type, and the same key tag.  An
   implementation that uses only the key tag to select a DNSKEY RR might
   select the wrong public key in some circumstances.

   For further discussion of the security implications of DNSSEC see
   RFC4033, RFC4034, and RFC4035.

10.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no IANA actions.

   DLV makes use of the DLV resource record previously assigned by IANA.

11.  References

11.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC4033]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "DNS Security Introduction and Requirements",
              RFC 4033, March 2005.

   [RFC4034]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Resource Records for the DNS Security Extensions",
              RFC 4034, March 2005.

   [RFC4035]  Arends, R., Austein, R., Larson, M., Massey, D., and S.
              Rose, "Protocol Modifications for the DNS Security
              Extensions", RFC 4035, March 2005.

   [RFC4431]  Andrews, M. and S. Weiler, "The DNSSEC Lookaside
              Validation (DLV) DNS Resource Record", RFC 4431,
              February 2006.

11.2.  Informative References

              Laurie, B., "DNSSEC Hashed Authenticated Denial of
              Existence", draft-ietf-dnsext-nsec3-11 (work in progress),

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              July 2007.

              Weiler, S., "Deploying DNSSEC Without a Signed Root",
              Technical Report 1999-19, Information Networking
              Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, April 2004.

   [RFC4470]  Weiler, S. and J. Ihren, "Minimally Covering NSEC Records
              and DNSSEC On-line Signing", RFC 4470, April 2006.

Appendix A.  Acknowledgments

   Johan Ihren, Paul Vixie, and Suzanne Woolf contributed significantly
   to the exploration of possible validator algorithms that led to this
   design.  More about those explorations is documented in [INI1999-19].

   Johan Ihren and the editor share the blame for aggressive negative

   Thanks to David B. Johnson and Marvin Sirbu for their patient review
   of [INI1999-19] which led to this specification being far more

   Thanks to Mark Andrews, Rob Austein, David Blacka, Stephane
   Bortzmeyer, Steve Crocker, Wes Hardaker, Alfred Hoenes, Russ Housley,
   Peter Koch, Olaf Kolkman, Juergen Quittek, and Suzanne Woolf for
   their valuable comments on this document.

Author's Address

   Samuel Weiler
   SPARTA, Inc.
   7110 Samuel Morse Drive
   Columbia, Maryland  21046


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