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How does DNS work?

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The internet links billions of gadgets worldwide, making it an extraordinarily vast and complicated network. The Domain Name System (DNS) makes moving around this digital world possible. Many people call DNS the "phonebook of the internet." Its main job is to turn domain names like "google.com" into the numbers that computers use to find and connect with each other. You can also learn about What is DNS in detail.

What is the Need for DNS?

Imagine a world where each page is linked to a long list of numbers, like 172.217.160.132. While computers can easily understand and talk to each other using these IP numbers, it would be difficult and impractical for people to do the same.

When you type in a domain name, DNS will automatically find the IP address associated with it. DNS Servers work behind the scenes to turn a domain name into a number that computers can understand. This lets your device connect to the correct computer and access the website's information.

Hierarchy of DNS servers

DNS's spread and hierarchical organization make it work so well. These are the leading players who work together to resolve DNS queries:

Client Devices (Your Computer/Phone)

This is where your trip starts. When you put a domain name into your browser, your device starts the DNS query as a client.

Recursive Resolver

This is the DNS server for your internet service provider (ISP). It's the first thing that your DNS query talks about. Even if the resolution doesn't have the answer immediately, it knows where to look.

Root Nameservers

These are the most critical parts of the DNS structure. They're like the main path of an extensive file system. Currently, there are 13 root nameservers spread out around the world. Each one holds information about the Top-Level Domain (TLD) nameservers, which are the next level in the system.

TLD Nameservers

These servers are in charge of certain top-level domains (TLDs), such as ".com," ".org," and ".net." These tell the resolver to go to the official nameserver for the domain you want to reach.

Authoritative Nameserver

This is the last place that the DNS lookup goes. It stores the fundamental link between the domain name and the IP address that goes with it. It's like a personal record book for a specific name; it has all the details you need to find the website's server.

The Resolution Process of DNS Servers

Query Initiation

You type in a domain name on your computer to start the query.

Contacting the Recursive Resolver

Your device sends the DNS query to your ISP's recursive server.

Interrogation of Root Nameservers

The server doesn't have easy access to the IP address. This checks the root nameservers to see which one is the official nameserver for the TLD (like ".com").

Delegation to TLD Nameserver

Giving power to the TLD Nameserver: The root nameserver tells the router which TLD nameserver to use for that domain, like the ".com" nameserver.

Locating the Authoritative Nameserver

The TLD nameserver tells you which official nameserver is in charge of that domain name (for example, the "google.com" nameserver).

Answer Received

The resolution finally gets to the official nameserver, which receives the domain name's IP address.

Connection Established

The server sends an IP address back to your computer. When you connect your device to the website's computer, this IP address allows the website to access the requested information.

Process of DNS Servers

Credit: AWS

Additional Functions of DNS servers

DNS's primary job is to translate domain names to IP numbers, but it also does other things that make your online experience better:

Email Routing

DNS is an essential part of getting emails to people. It helps you find the mail exchange server to get emails for a particular name.

Security Measures

DNS can be set up to prevent people from accessing dangerous websites or filtering material based on rules already set.

Load Balancing

DNS can send data to multiple web servers for a single name. This ensures that all the servers work at their best and don't overload a single server.

Challenges and Advancements of DNS Servers

DNS must change to keep up with the internet, which is constantly evolving. Here are a few of the problems and new developments that are affecting the future of DNS right now:

Challenges

Security Threats

As a key part of the infrastructure, DNS is a target for hacking. DNS phishing, which sends people to harmful websites, and DNS hacking, which takes control of a domain's nameserver, seriously threaten cybersecurity.

Scalability and Performance

As the internet grows, the tasks required on the DNS system become more challenging. Ensuring issues are resolved quickly and dealing with rising traffic loads are still problems.

Advancements

DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC)

These protocols aim to make DNS more secure by adding digital signatures to DNS records. This will make it easier to spot changes made and stop fake attacks.

Emerging DNS Protocols

New methods are being made, such as DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and DNS over TLS (DoT), protecting the data sent between devices and DNS resolvers. This will make the data more private and safe.

The Future of DNS

DNS's future lies in constant improvement that solves problems and uses new technologies. Shortly, we may witness:

DNSSEC should be used more so that everyone's security is improved. DoH and DoT should be used on a larger scale to protect user privacy. AI and machine learning can be used together to find threats more accurately and automatically respond to them. Standards are changing to meet the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) and increasingly connected objects. 

DNS is the backbone of the internet; it quietly converts domain names that people can read into a language computers can understand. As the digital world changes, DNS will be very important for ensuring everyone has a safe, fast, and easy-to-use internet experience. By knowing how DNS works and what changes are constantly made, we can better understand how important it is for connecting us to the huge and growing internet.

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