Reply to post: Re: Single Point of Failure?

Internet root keymasters must think they're cursed: First, a dodgy safe. Now, coronavirus upends IANA ceremony

doublelayer Silver badge

Re: Single Point of Failure?

It's not quite as single a point of failure as it seems. There are many protocols that are not affected by this--if these keys expire, many parts of the DNS root system continue to run like clockwork.

But, let's assume that all the people who do this are killed at once by some type of internet-hating terrorist group. What would happen is that IANA would get in a locksmith and break into the safe again. They might need more time, and they might need to do a bit of trial and error if there are any passwords involved, but they can handle that.

Let's assume the terrorists also take out the facility where the safe is. IANA just moves over to Virginia where there is a second copy of the safe and breaks into that one, then probably copies the contents and reestablishes the two-locations system again.

Let's assume that both locations and all participants are destroyed. In this case, IANA are a little stuck, but that's assuming they have no backups of the system somewhere (and nobody managed to copy the keys for a laugh). Given how secure they want this to be, it's possible they don't have them, but I wouldn't be surprised if that weren't the case. But if that happened, the problem would eventually fall down to the next set of servers. For a while, cached results from the root servers would be fine and nobody would have a problem. That's why attacking the DNS root servers, even if it works, doesn't immediately bring down the internet. During this time, users continue to act as normal while IANA and other DNS operators decide what needs to be done.

Let's assume they fail to do it. They don't have the ability to create a new key and have it trusted implicitly, and nobody has an idea of a quick way out of this. What happens then is that people have to fall back to other DNS information without authentication. It has problems, but it has also worked for quite a while. We're just back to that. Many places will have to change their system configurations. We'd see a lot of annoyed users. We technical folk would get a large helping of blame we don't really deserve. But life, the internet, and everything would continue to exist. IANA might get a lot of bad consequences for that, but that's where it'd end.

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