loads of Query denied... is it an attack or a misconfiguration ?

David Ford david at blue-labs.org
Wed Feb 11 09:05:11 UTC 2009

An intelligently designed firewall rule that drops the incoming requests
isn't doing exactly what the attacker wants.  It's the opposite.  The
main effect of forged lookups is a response flood. And so it is also
intended to flood the victim with overwhelming amounts of DNS
responses.  It, like any solution, is a two edged blade.  Allowing all
the responses to flow back to the victim floods them.  Dropping the
incoming request prevents that but it also prevents them from doing
lookups on your nameserver for domains that you are authoritative for.

So if you drop all these forged queries to your authoritative
nameservers save one or two, the victim will get less traffic, and still
be able to do lookups - they'll just take a wee bit longer on average. 
If your nameserver is only getting one or two of these every several
minutes, then your impact on the victim is insignificant and you need
not take any action - assuming your BIND configuration is proper. 
However if you happen to be a fat target and you're getting dozens or
hundreds of these per second, then you're having a significant impact on
the victim and that particular server should do some filtering.

Firewalls are smart these days.  It's entirely possible to do some deep
packet inspection and drop only the "." requests, and/or do rate
limiting.  The only firewalls left that can't do this are ancient beasts
that have too many layers of dust on them.

So in addition to ensuring your BIND configuration is setup properly to
refuse upward referrals, recursion, answers from cache to strangers so
forth and so on, it is also important to judiciously apply firewall rules.

There can be more than one proper thing to do.


Stephane Bortzmeyer wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 11, 2009 at 01:35:31AM +0100,
>  Thomas Manson <dev.mansonthomas at gmail.com> wrote 
>  a message of 80 lines which said:
>> I'll temporray block the ip on my firewall
> Very bad idea, since it is forged. You do exactly what the attacker
> wanted you to do.
> The proper thing to do is:
> https://www.dns-oarc.net/oarc/articles/upward-referrals-considered-harmful

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