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RFC 8482 - Providing Minimal-Sized Responses to DNS Queries That

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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                          J. Abley
Request for Comments: 8482                                       Afilias
Updates: 1034, 1035                                       O. Gudmundsson
Category: Standards Track                                   M. Majkowski
ISSN: 2070-1721                                          Cloudflare Inc.
                                                                 E. Hunt
                                                            January 2019

  Providing Minimal-Sized Responses to DNS Queries That Have QTYPE=ANY


   The Domain Name System (DNS) specifies a query type (QTYPE) "ANY".
   The operator of an authoritative DNS server might choose not to
   respond to such queries for reasons of local policy, motivated by
   security, performance, or other reasons.

   The DNS specification does not include specific guidance for the
   behavior of DNS servers or clients in this situation.  This document
   aims to provide such guidance.

   This document updates RFCs 1034 and 1035.

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................3
      1.1. Terminology ................................................3
   2. Motivations for Use of ANY Queries ..............................3
   3. General Approach ................................................4
   4. Behavior of DNS Responders ......................................5
      4.1. Answer with a Subset of Available RRsets ...................5
      4.2. Answer with a Synthesized HINFO RRset ......................5
      4.3. Answer with Best Guess as to Intention .....................6
      4.4. Transport Considerations ...................................6
   5. Behavior of DNS Initiators ......................................7
   6. HINFO Considerations ............................................7
   7. Updates to RFCs 1034 and 1035 ...................................7
   8. Implementation Experience .......................................8
   9. Security Considerations .........................................8
   10. IANA Considerations ............................................9
   11. References .....................................................9
      11.1. Normative References ......................................9
      11.2. Informative References ....................................9
   Acknowledgements ..................................................10
   Authors' Addresses ................................................10

1.  Introduction

   The Domain Name System (DNS) specifies a query type (QTYPE) "ANY".
   The operator of an authoritative DNS server might choose not to
   respond to such queries for reasons of local policy, motivated by
   security, performance, or other reasons.

   The DNS specification [RFC1034] [RFC1035] does not include specific
   guidance for the behavior of DNS servers or clients in this
   situation.  This document aims to provide such guidance.

1.1.  Terminology

   This document uses terminology specific to the Domain Name System
   (DNS), descriptions of which can be found in [RFC8499].

   [RFC1035] defined type 255 to be "*".  However, DNS implementations
   commonly use the keyword "ANY" to refer to that type code; this
   document follows that common usage.

   In this document, "ANY query" refers to a DNS meta-query with
   QTYPE=ANY.  An "ANY response" is a response to such a query.

   In this document, "conventional ANY response" means an ANY response
   that is constructed in accordance with the algorithm documented in
   Section 4.3.2 of [RFC1034] and specifically without implementing any
   of the mechanisms described in this document.

   In an exchange of DNS messages between two hosts, this document
   refers to the host sending a DNS request as the "initiator" and the
   host sending a DNS response as the "responder".

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
   BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

2.  Motivations for Use of ANY Queries

   ANY queries are legitimately used for debugging and checking the
   state of a DNS server for a particular name.

   ANY queries are sometimes used as an attempt to reduce the number of
   queries needed to get information, e.g., to obtain MX, A, and AAAA
   resource record sets (RRsets) for a mail domain in a single query.
   However, there is no documented guidance available for this use case,
   and some implementations have been observed not to function as their

   developers expected.  If implementers assume that an ANY query will
   ultimately be received by an authoritative server and will fetch all
   existing RRsets, they should include a fallback mechanism to use when
   that does not happen.

   ANY queries are frequently used to exploit the amplification
   potential of DNS servers and resolvers using spoofed source addresses
   and UDP transport (see [RFC5358]).  Having the ability to return
   small responses to such queries makes DNS servers less attractive

   ANY queries are sometimes used to help mine authoritative-only DNS
   servers for zone data, since they are expected to return all RRsets
   for a particular query name.  If DNS operators prefer to reduce the
   potential for information leaks, they might choose not to send large
   ANY responses.

   Some authoritative-only DNS server implementations require additional
   processing in order to send a conventional ANY response; avoiding
   that processing expense might be desirable.

3.  General Approach

   This proposal provides a mechanism for an authoritative DNS server to
   signal that conventional ANY queries are not supported for a
   particular QNAME.  It does so in a way that is both compatible with
   and triggers desirable behavior by unmodified clients (e.g., DNS

   Alternative proposals for dealing with ANY queries have been
   discussed.  One approach proposes using a new RCODE to signal that an
   authoritative server did not answer ANY queries in the standard way.
   This approach was found to have an undesirable effect on both
   resolvers and authoritative-only servers; resolvers receiving an
   unknown RCODE would resend the same query to all available
   authoritative servers rather than suppress future ANY queries for the
   same QNAME.

   The proposal described in this document avoids that outcome by
   returning a non-empty RRset in the ANY response, which provides
   resolvers with something to cache and effectively suppresses repeat
   queries to the same or different authoritative DNS servers.

4.  Behavior of DNS Responders

   Below are the three different modes of behavior by DNS responders
   when processing queries with QNAMEs that exist, QCLASS=IN, and
   QTYPE=ANY.  Operators and implementers are free to choose whichever
   mechanism best suits their environment.

   1.  A DNS responder can choose to select one or a larger subset of
       the available RRsets at the QNAME.

   2.  A DNS responder can return a synthesized HINFO resource record.
       See Section 6 for discussion of the use of HINFO.

   3.  A resolver can try to give out the most likely records the
       requester wants.  This is not always possible, and the result
       might well be a large response.

   Except as described below in this section, the DNS responder MUST
   follow the standard algorithms when constructing a response.

4.1.  Answer with a Subset of Available RRsets

   A DNS responder that receives an ANY query MAY decline to provide a
   conventional ANY response or MAY instead send a response with a
   single RRset (or a larger subset of available RRsets) in the answer

   The RRsets returned in the answer section of the response MAY consist
   of a single RRset owned by the name specified in the QNAME.  Where
   multiple RRsets exist, the responder SHOULD choose a small subset of
   those available to reduce the amplification potential of the

   If the zone is signed, appropriate RRSIG records MUST be included in
   the answer.

   Note that this mechanism does not provide any signaling to indicate
   to a client that an incomplete subset of the available RRsets has
   been returned.

4.2.  Answer with a Synthesized HINFO RRset

   If there is no CNAME present at the owner name matching the QNAME,
   the resource record returned in the response MAY instead be
   synthesized.  In this case, a single HINFO resource record SHOULD be
   returned.  The CPU field of the HINFO RDATA SHOULD be set to
   "RFC8482".  The OS field of the HINFO RDATA SHOULD be set to the null
   string to minimize the size of the response.

   The TTL encoded for the synthesized HINFO resource record SHOULD be
   chosen by the operator of the DNS responder to be large enough to
   suppress frequent subsequent ANY queries from the same initiator with
   the same QNAME, understanding that a TTL that is too long might make
   policy changes relating to ANY queries difficult to change in the
   future.  The specific value used SHOULD be configurable by the
   operator of the nameserver according to local policy, based on the
   familiar considerations involved in choosing a TTL value for any
   resource record in any zone.

   If the DNS query includes DO=1 and the QNAME corresponds to a zone
   that is known by the responder to be signed, a valid RRSIG for the
   RRsets in the answer (or authority if answer is empty) section MUST
   be returned.  In the case of DO=0, the RRSIG SHOULD be omitted.

   A system that receives an HINFO response SHOULD NOT infer that the
   response was generated according to this specification and apply any
   special processing of the response because, in general, it is not
   possible to tell with certainty whether the HINFO RRset received was
   synthesized.  In particular, systems SHOULD NOT rely upon the HINFO
   RDATA described in this section to distinguish between synthesized
   and non-synthesized HINFO RRsets.

4.3.  Answer with Best Guess as to Intention

   In some cases, it is possible to guess what the initiator wants in
   the answer (but not always).  Some implementations have implemented
   the spirit of this document by returning all RRsets of RRTYPE CNAME,
   MX, A, and AAAA that are present at the owner name while suppressing
   others.  This heuristic seems to work well in practice; it satisfies
   the needs of some applications whilst suppressing other RRsets such
   as TXT and DNSKEY that can often contribute to large responses.
   Whilst some applications may be satisfied by this behavior, the
   resulting responses in the general case are larger than in the
   approaches described in Sections 4.1 and 4.2.

   As before, if the zone is signed and the DO bit is set on the
   corresponding query, an RRSIG RRset MUST be included in the response.

4.4.  Transport Considerations

   A DNS responder MAY behave differently when processing ANY queries
   received over different transports, e.g., by providing a conventional
   ANY response over TCP whilst using one of the other mechanisms
   specified in this document in the case where a query was received
   using UDP.

   Implementers MAY provide configuration options to allow operators to
   specify different behavior over different transports.

5.  Behavior of DNS Initiators

   A DNS initiator that sends a query with QTYPE=ANY and receives a
   response containing an HINFO resource record or a single RRset, as
   described in Section 4, MAY cache the response in the normal way.
   Such cached resource records SHOULD be retained in the cache
   following normal caching semantics, as with any other response
   received from a DNS responder.

   A DNS initiator MAY suppress queries with QTYPE=ANY in the event that
   the local cache contains a matching HINFO resource record with the
   CPU field of the HINFO RDATA, as described in Section 4.  A DNS
   initiator MAY instead respond to such queries with the contents of
   the local cache in the usual way.

6.  HINFO Considerations

   It is possible that the synthesized HINFO RRset in an ANY response,
   once cached by the initiator, might suppress subsequent queries from
   the same initiator with QTYPE=HINFO.  Thus, the use of HINFO in this
   proposal would effectively mask the HINFO RRset present in the zone.

   Operators of authoritative servers who serve zones that rely upon
   conventional use of the HINFO RRTYPE SHOULD sensibly choose the
   "single RRset" method described in this document or select another

   The HINFO RRTYPE is believed to be rarely used in the DNS at the time
   of writing, based on observations made in passive DNS and at
   recursive and authoritative DNS servers.

7.  Updates to RFCs 1034 and 1035

   This document extends the specification for processing ANY queries
   described in Section 4.3.2 of [RFC1034].

   It is important to note that returning a subset of available RRsets
   when processing an ANY query is legitimate and consistent with
   [RFC1035]; it can be argued that ANY does not always mean ALL, as
   used in Section 3.2.3 of [RFC1035].  The main difference here is that
   the TC bit SHOULD NOT be set in the response, thus indicating that
   this is not a complete answer.

   This document describes optional behavior for both DNS initiators and
   responders; implementation of the guidance provided by this document

   RRSIG queries (i.e., queries with QTYPE=RRSIG) are similar to ANY
   queries in the sense that they have the potential to generate large
   responses as well as extra work for the responders that process them,
   e.g., in the case where signatures are generated on the fly.  RRSIG
   RRsets are not usually obtained using such explicit queries but are
   rather included in the responses for other RRsets that the RRSIGs
   cover.  This document does not specify appropriate behavior for RRSIG
   queries; however, future such advice might well benefit from
   consistency with and experience with the approaches for ANY queries
   described here.

8.  Implementation Experience

   In October 2015, the Cloudflare authoritative nameserver
   implementation implemented the HINFO response.  A few minor problems
   were reported and have since been resolved.

   An implementation of the subset-mode response to ANY queries was
   implemented in NSD 4.1 in 2016.

   An implementation of a single RRset response to an ANY query was made
   for BIND9 by Tony Finch, and that functionality was subsequently made
   available in production releases starting in BIND 9.11.

9.  Security Considerations

   Queries with QTYPE=ANY are frequently observed as part of reflection
   attacks, since a relatively small query can be used to elicit a large
   response.  This is a desirable characteristic if the goal is to
   maximize the amplification potential of a DNS server as part of a
   volumetric attack.  The ability of a DNS operator to suppress such
   responses on a particular server makes that server a less useful

   The optional behavior described in this document to reduce the size
   of responses to queries with QTYPE=ANY is compatible with the use of
   DNSSEC by both initiator and responder.

10.  IANA Considerations

   IANA has updated the following entry in the "Resource Record (RR)
   TYPEs" registry [RR_TYPES]:

   | TYPE | Value | Meaning                       | Reference          |
   | *    | 255   | A request for some or all     | [RFC1035][RFC6895] |
   |      |       | records the server has        | [RFC8482]          |
   |      |       | available                     |                    |

11.  References

11.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1034]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities",
              STD 13, RFC 1034, DOI 10.17487/RFC1034, November 1987,

   [RFC1035]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - implementation and
              specification", STD 13, RFC 1035, DOI 10.17487/RFC1035,
              November 1987, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1035>.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

11.2.  Informative References

   [RFC5358]  Damas, J. and F. Neves, "Preventing Use of Recursive
              Nameservers in Reflector Attacks", BCP 140, RFC 5358,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5358, October 2008,

   [RFC6895]  Eastlake 3rd, D., "Domain Name System (DNS) IANA
              Considerations", BCP 42, RFC 6895, DOI 10.17487/RFC6895,
              April 2013, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6895>.

   [RFC8499]  Hoffman, P., Sullivan, A., and K. Fujiwara, "DNS
              Terminology", BCP 219, RFC 8499, DOI 10.17487/RFC8499,
              January 2019, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8499>.

   [RR_TYPES] IANA, "Domain Name System (DNS) Parameters",


   David Lawrence provided valuable observations and concrete
   suggestions.  Jeremy Laidman helped make the document better.  Tony
   Finch realized that this document was valuable and implemented it
   while under attack.  Richard Gibson identified areas where more
   detail and accuracy were useful.  A large number of other people also
   provided comments and suggestions; we thank them all for the

Authors' Addresses

   Joe Abley
   300-184 York Street
   London, ON  N6A 1B5

   Phone: +1 519 670 9327
   Email: jabley@afilias.info

   Olafur Gudmundsson
   Cloudflare Inc.

   Email: olafur+ietf@cloudflare.com

   Marek Majkowski
   Cloudflare Inc.

   Email: marek@cloudflare.com

   Evan Hunt
   950 Charter St
   Redwood City, CA  94063
   United States of America

   Email: each@isc.org


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