GoDaddy Blacks Out... Selective DNS - The UpStream

GoDaddy Blacks Out... Selective DNS

posted Thursday Sep 8, 2011 by Scott Ertz

GoDaddy Blacks Out... Selective DNS

Before we get into what has changed, let's start by discussing what DNS is. DNS is the Domain Name Service, the protocol that translates domain names into IP addresses. Basically, when you type in www.plughitzlive.com, DNS is what translates it into 64.202.163.78. Obviously you would rather remember the name, not the number - thanks, DNS!

Now, to the news. GoDaddy, now under new management, has implemented a new policy restricting who can access their DNS servers. Now, they're not going to black out service providers like Time Warner or Comcast, but they might block services like Alexa, who shows domain traffic for the top websites on the Internet, from accessing their servers. This could significantly damage the way companies and individuals find out how well their sites are doing. Rich Merdinger, Director, Domain Services, released this statement,

Go Daddy monitors DNS queries to ensure our customers' information is being accessed properly and not being harvested for unintended uses.

If we suspect that any service is gathering DNS data, we will limit access to that specific source. This is done to maintain our high level of system integrity.

If a company or service has questions about accessing Go Daddy DNS, they can email dns (at) jomax.net.

To find out exactly what this means for you and how it could affect the rest of the Internet, hit the break.

The statement seems noble on first reading, but when you know what is really going on it becomes almost sinister. Firstly, how would one go about accessing DNS inappropriately? What are these unintended uses of DNS? You enter text, DNS makes it into numbers; it's truly that simple. It's not like you can access data through DNS, there's no security exploits, so what are they worried about? Well, it turns out someone in the new management team doens't understand technology at all. A previous statement, made by the same man about a different technology, said,

Go Daddy ... monitors WHOIS data regularly to ensure our customers' information is being accessed properly and not being harvested for unintended uses.

If we suspect that any service is harvesting WHOIS data, we will limit access to that specific source.

We are not taking the WHOIS information offline, however. Anyone can find the WHOIS information on a domain name registered through Go Daddy by visiting http://whois.GoDaddy.com.

If a company or service has questions about accessing Go Daddy WHOIS information, they can email dns (at) jomax.net.

So, someone found out they had limited access to WHOIS data and thought why not do the same with DNS? Well, WHOIS is a convenience technology, whereas DNS is what runs the Internet. Hopefully we won't see more companies make this same mistake, but as for a first company, GoDaddy who serves around 32 million domains, is certainly a massive shift. In fact, GoDaddy has more domains than the next 8 together. Since the policy went into effect, daily registrations have gone down from around 250,000 to 55,000 - hopefully GoDaddy will see that customers are unhappy and switch back. I can dream, right?

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