How To Setup DNSSEC on an Authoritative BIND DNS Server

Published on March 19, 2014
How To Setup DNSSEC on an Authoritative BIND DNS Server


We all know that DNS is a protocol which resolves domain names to IP addresses, but how do we know the authenticity of the returned IP address? It is possible for an attacker to tamper a DNS response or poison the DNS cache and take users to a malicious site with the legitimate domain name in the address bar. DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a specification which aims at maintaining the data integrity of DNS responses. DNSSEC signs all the DNS resource records (A, MX, CNAME etc.) of a zone using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure). Now DNSSEC enabled DNS resolvers (like Google Public DNS) can verify the authenticity of a DNS reply (containing an IP address) using the public DNSKEY record.

DNSSEC Resource Records

A Resource Record (RR) contains a specific information about the domain. Some common ones are A record which contains the IP address of the domain, AAAA record which holds the IPv6 information, and MX record which has mail servers of a domain. A complete list of DNS RRs can be found here.

Likewise DNSSEC too requires several RRs.

  • DNSKEY Holds the public key which resolvers use to verify.
  • RRSIG Exists for each RR and contains the digital signature of a record.
  • DS - Delegation Signer – this record exists in the TLD’s nameservers. So if example.com was your domain name, the TLD is “com” and its nameservers are a.gtld-servers.net., b.gtld-servers.net. up to m.gtld-servers.net.. The purpose of this record is to verify the authenticity of the DNSKEY itself.

Setup Environment

Domain Name: example.com

I used a real .COM domain to do this, but have replaced it with example.com for this article.

Master Nameserver: IP Address: Hostname: master.example.com OS: Debian 7

Slave Nameserver: IP Address: Hostname: slave.example.com OS: CentOS

File locations and names

The names and locations of configuration and zone files of BIND different according to the Linux distribution used.


Service name: bind9 Main configuration file: /etc/bind/named.conf.options Zone names file: /etc/bind/named.conf.local Default zone file location: /var/cache/bind/


Service name: named Main configuration and zone names file: /etc/named.conf Default zone file location: /var/named/

These may change if you’re using bind-chroot. For this tutorial, I’ve used Debian for the Master NS and CentOS for the Slave NS, so change it according to your distribution.

DNSSEC Master Configuration

Enable DNSSEC by adding the following configuration directives inside options{ }

nano /etc/bind/named.conf.options

dnssec-enable yes;
dnssec-validation yes;
dnssec-lookaside auto;

It is possible that these are already added in some distributions. Navigate to the location of your zone files.

cd /var/cache/bind

Create a Zone Signing Key(ZSK) with the following command.

dnssec-keygen -a NSEC3RSASHA1 -b 2048 -n ZONE example.com

If you have installed haveged, it’ll take only a few seconds for this key to be generated; otherwise it’ll take a very long time. Sample output.

root@master:/var/cache/bind# dnssec-keygen -a NSEC3RSASHA1 -b 2048 -n ZONE example.com
Generating key pair..................+++ .............+++

Create a Key Signing Key(KSK) with the following command.

dnssec-keygen -f KSK -a NSEC3RSASHA1 -b 4096 -n ZONE example.com

Sample output.

root@master:/var/cache/bind# dnssec-keygen -f KSK -a NSEC3RSASHA1 -b 4096 -n ZONE example.com
Generating key pair......................++ .............................................................................................................................................................................................................++

The directory will now have 4 keys - private/public pairs of ZSK and KSK. We have to add the public keys which contain the DNSKEY record to the zone file. The following for loop will do this.

for key in `ls Kexample.com*.key`
echo "\$INCLUDE $key">> example.com.zone

Sign the zone with the dnssec-signzone command.

dnssec-signzone -3 <salt> -A -N INCREMENT -o <zonename> -t <zonefilename>

Replace salt with something random. Here is an example with the output.

root@master:/var/cache/bind# dnssec-signzone -A -3 $(head -c 1000 /dev/random | sha1sum | cut -b 1-16) -N INCREMENT -o example.com -t example.com.zone
Verifying the zone using the following algorithms: NSEC3RSASHA1.
Zone signing complete:
Algorithm: NSEC3RSASHA1: KSKs: 1 active, 0 stand-by, 0 revoked
                        ZSKs: 1 active, 0 stand-by, 0 revoked
Signatures generated:                       14
Signatures retained:                         0
Signatures dropped:                          0
Signatures successfully verified:            0
Signatures unsuccessfully verified:          0
Signing time in seconds:                 0.046
Signatures per second:                 298.310
Runtime in seconds:                      0.056

A 16 character string must be entered as the “salt”. The following command

head -c 1000 /dev/random | sha1sum | cut -b 1-16

outputs a random string of 16 characters which will be used as the salt.

This creates a new file named example.com.zone.signed which contains RRSIG records for each DNS record. We have to tell BIND to load this “signed” zone.

nano /etc/bind/named.conf.local

Change the file option inside the zone { } section.

zone "example.com" IN {
    type master;
    file "example.com.zone.signed";
    allow-transfer {; };
    allow-update { none; };

Save this file and reload bind

service bind9 reload

Check if for the DNSKEY record using dig on the same server.

dig DNSKEY example.com. @localhost +multiline

Sample output

root@master:/var/cache/bind# dig DNSKEY example.com. @localhost +multiline
;; Truncated, retrying in TCP mode.

; <<>> DiG 9.8.4-rpz2+rl005.12-P1 <<>> DNSKEY example.com. @localhost +multiline
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 43986
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;; WARNING: recursion requested but not available

;example.com.       IN DNSKEY

example.com.        86400 IN DNSKEY   256 3 7 (
                ) ; key id = 40400
example.com.        86400 IN DNSKEY   257 3 7 (
                ) ; key id = 62910

;; Query time: 0 msec
;; WHEN: Wed Nov 27 18:18:30 2013
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 839

Check for the presence of RRSIG records.

dig A example.com. @localhost +noadditional +dnssec +multiline
; <<>> DiG 9.8.4-rpz2+rl005.12-P1 <<>> A example.com. @localhost +noadditional +dnssec +multiline
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 32902
;; flags: qr aa rd; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 2, AUTHORITY: 3, ADDITIONAL: 5
;; WARNING: recursion requested but not available

; EDNS: version: 0, flags: do; udp: 4096
;example.com.         IN A

example.com.          86400 IN A
example.com.          86400 IN RRSIG A 7 2 86400 20131227171405 (
                            20131127171405 40400 example.com.
                            GtuH4JwP3hDIpNtGTsQrFWYWL5pUuuQRwA== )

example.com.          86400 IN NS master.example.com.
example.com.          86400 IN NS slave.example.com.
example.com.          86400 IN RRSIG NS 7 2 86400 20131227171405 (
                            20131127171405 40400 example.com.
                            wTYkCS3APl/hu20Y4R5f6xyt8JZx3zkZEQ== )

;; Query time: 0 msec
;; WHEN: Thu Nov 28 00:01:06 2013
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 1335

The configuration of the master server is complete.

DNSSEC Slave Configuration

The slave servers only require DNSSEC to be enabled and the zone file location to be changed. Edit the main configuration file of BIND.

nano /etc/named.conf

Place these lines inside the options { } section if they don’t exist.

dnssec-enable yes;
dnssec-validation yes;
dnssec-lookaside auto;

Edit the file option inside the zone { } section.

zone "example.com" IN {
    type slave;
    file "example.com.zone.signed";
    masters {; };
    allow-notify {; };

Reload the BIND service.

service named reload

Check if there is a new .signed zone file.

[root@slave ~]# ls -l /var/named/slaves/
total 16
-rw-r--r-- 1 named named  472 Nov 27 17:25 example.com.zone
-rw-r--r-- 1 named named 9180 Nov 27 18:29 example.com.zone.signed

Voila! That’s it. Just to make sure things are working as they should ,query the DNSKEY using dig as mentioned in the previous section.

Configure DS records with the registrar

When we ran the dnssec-signzone command apart from the .signed zone file, a file named dsset-example.com was also created, this contains the DS records.

root@master:/var/cache/bind# cat dsset-example.com.
example.com.        IN DS 62910 7 1 1D6AC75083F3CEC31861993E325E0EEC7E97D1DD
example.com.        IN DS 62910 7 2 198303E265A856DE8FE6330EDB5AA76F3537C10783151AEF3577859F FFC3F59D

These have to be entered in your domain registrar’s control panel. The screenshots below will illustrate the steps on GoDaddy.

Login to your domain registrar’s control panel, choose your domain, and select the option to manage DS records. GoDaddy’s control panel looks like this.

GoDaddy's Domain control panel

Here is a breakup of the data in the dsset-example.com. file.

DS record 1:

Key tag: 62910 Algorithm: 7 Digest Type: 1 Digest: 1D6AC75083F3CEC31861993E325E0EEC7E97D1DD

DS record 1

DS record 2:

Key tag: 62910 Algorithm: 7 Digest Type: 2 Digest: 198303E265A856DE8FE6330EDB5AA76F3537C10783151AEF3577859FFFC3F59D

DS record 2

The second DS record in the dsset-example.com. file had a space in the digest, but when entering it in the form you should omit it. Click Next, click Finish and Save the records.

It’ll take a few minutes for these changes to be saved. To check if the DS records have been created query the nameservers of your TLD. Instead of finding the TLD’s nameservers we can do a dig +trace which is much simpler.

root@master:~# dig +trace +noadditional DS example.com. @ | grep DS
; <<>> DiG 9.8.2rc1-RedHat-9.8.2-0.17.rc1.el6_4.6 <<>> +trace +noadditional DS example.com. @
example.com.          86400   IN      DS      62910 7 2 198303E265A856DE8FE6330EDB5AA76F3537C10783151AEF3577859F FFC3F59D
example.com.          86400   IN      DS      62910 7 1 1D6AC75083F3CEC31861993E325E0EEC7E97D1DD

Once this is confirmed, we can check if DNSSEC is working fine using any of the following online services.

The first tool is a simple one, while the second gives you a visual representation of things. Here is a screenshot from the first tool.

Notice the lines I’ve marked. The first one mentions the Key tag value (62910) of the DS record while the second one key id (40400) of the DNSKEY record which holds the ZSK (Zone Signing Key).

Modifying Zone Records

Each time you edit the zone by adding or removing records, it has to be signed to make it work. So we will create a script for this so that we don’t have to type long commands every time.

root@master# nano /usr/sbin/zonesigner.sh

ZONEDIR="/var/cache/bind" #location of your zone files
DNSSERVICE="bind9" #On CentOS/Fedora replace this with "named"
SERIAL=`/usr/sbin/named-checkzone $ZONE $ZONEFILE | egrep -ho '[0-9]{10}'`
sed -i 's/'$SERIAL'/'$(($SERIAL+1))'/' $ZONEFILE
/usr/sbin/dnssec-signzone -A -3 $(head -c 1000 /dev/random | sha1sum | cut -b 1-16) -N increment -o $1 -t $2
service $DNSSERVICE reload
cd $PDIR

Save the file and make it executable.

root@master# chmod +x /usr/sbin/zonesigner.sh

Whenever you want to add or remove records, edit the example.com.zone and NOT the .signed file. This file also takes care of incrementing the serial value, so you needn’t do it each time you edit the file. After editing it run the script by passing the domain name and zone filename as parameters.

root@master# zonesigner.sh example.com example.com.zone

You do not have to do anything on the slave nameserver as the incremented serial will ensure the zone if transferred and updated.

Securing the DNSSEC setup from Zone Walking

Zone Walking is a technique used to find all the Resource Records of a zone by querying the NSEC (Next-Secure) record. NSEC3 was released which “hashed” this information using a salt. Recall the dnssec-signzone command in which we specified a -3 option followed by another elaborate command to generate a random string. This is the salt which can be found using the following dig query.

# dig NSEC3PARAM example.com. @master.example.com. +short
1 0 10 7CBAA916230368F2

All this makes zone walking difficult but not impossible. A determined hacker using rainbow tables can break the hash, though it’ll take a long time. To prevent this we can recompute this salt at regular intervals, which makes a hacker’s attempt futile as there is a new salt before he/she can find the hash with the old salt. Create a cron job to do this for you using the zonesigner.sh script we created previously. If you run the cronjob as root you don’t have to worry about file ownership. Or else make sure the user under whom you’re placing the cron has write permission on the zone directory and read permission on the private keys (Kexample.com.*.private).

root@master:~# crontab -e

0       0       */3     *       *       /usr/sbin/zonesigner.sh example.com example.com.zone

This will sign the zone every 3 days and as a result a new salt will be generated. You’ll also receive an email containing the output of the dnssec-signzone command.

<div class=“author”>Submitted by: <a rel=“author” href=“http://jesin.tk/”>Jesin A</a></div>

Thanks for learning with the DigitalOcean Community. Check out our offerings for compute, storage, networking, and managed databases.

Learn more about us

About the authors
Default avatar
Jesin A


Still looking for an answer?

Ask a questionSearch for more help

Was this helpful?

This textbox defaults to using Markdown to format your answer.

You can type !ref in this text area to quickly search our full set of tutorials, documentation & marketplace offerings and insert the link!

Thank you for this tutorial i need help, i am stuck at the “dnssec-signzone” command, i am getting a ttl problem :

dnssec-signzone -A -3 $(head -c 1000 /dev/random | sha1sum | cut -b 1-16) -N INCREMENT -o example.com -t example.com.zone

dnssec-signzone: warning: Kexample.com.+008+48907.key:5: no TTL specified; zone rejected dnssec-signzone: fatal: failed loading zone from ‘example.com.zone’: no ttl

is there any hint ? thanks a lot

Nice article. Just wanted to point out that there is a little typo in your DNS Poisoning link to Wikipedia. Should be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNS_cache_poisoning.

All thanks to Viktor Belov, after he helped me remove some bad records that had stayed on my database for over 4 years and kept blocking my chances of getting any jobs or being granted loans, I now have a great job with a very handsome pay. I no longer feel insecure as I used to. If you need help, you need this man. Contact Viktor via Email: Viktorhackworld @ gmail. com He recently helped me gain access to all messages, pictures and videos on an iPhone without physical access. I never imagined anyone was capable of all these.


without using the script, if I want to add a say a new A record do I have to do this.

root@master01:/etc/named.dir/forward# cp db.sample.com.signed db.sample.com root@master01:/etc/named.dir/forward# root@master01:/etc/named.dir/forward# dnssec-signzone -N increment -o sample.com db.sample.com

root@master01:/etc/named.dir/forward# rndc reload


Apparently the zone files located in /var/cache/bind

I followed another Digital Ocean tutorial to setup bind, the zone files are in /etc/bind

Which is the default or better?

Hi Jesin, great tutorial that helped me A TON but I think I might have found a slight mistake – please let me know what you think.

In the section “Configure DS records with the registrar”, you specify to take the key digests from the dsset- file and enter them into the registrar’s DS control panel. However, I think this isn’t quite right. The dsset file actually contains the digest for the KSK public key twice: once in SHA1 (that’s the record with the 1), and once in SHA256 (that’s the record with the 2). So I think you have just ended up uploading the same KSK public key twice to your registrar (this is why both have the same key tag that matches the key tag of the KSK); which should hurt anything really but I don’t think that was your intention. I believe you intended to upload the KSK and the ZSK. To do this, I recommend using the following command:

dnssec-dsfromkey -2 -A -f example.com

This will give you back both the ZSK and the KSK digests in SHA256 format; I believe you need to upload both of these to your registrar.

Finally, I have some information pertinent for anyone following this guide that wants to work with AWS Route 53 as the registrar (rather than GoDaddy). For Route 53, you will need to upload the actual public keys themselves and NOT the digest (the digest will be calculated for you). This really threw me for a loop because if you upload the digest it will appear to work (the tool will accept it) but it won’t be the right key. The correct values are available simply by doing:

dig dnskey example.com

You will get both the keys for the ZSK (256 record) and the KSK (257 record). These are already Base64 encoded values (which is what Route 53 wants), HOWEVER you must remove the spaces from these values. Simply pass the full key value into a sed ‘s/\ //g’ to strip the space characters and then put that value into Route 53, and it will work!

Hope that helps.

Great article. Am using this as part of an effort to automate a DNSSEC setup on AWS using CentOS 7. https://github.com/ajgargan/bind9

The zonesigner shell script works great as long as you don’t have any other lines with the same number as your serial version on them. So if, for example, your serial version is 8, and you have any other lines with an 8 on them, the first occurrence of that match will be replaced by your serial version +1. Based on the format of my ZONE files, I’ve updated the grep/sed lines in the script to look like this (your mileage may vary):

SERIAL=`/usr/sbin/named-checkzone $ZONE $ZONEFILE | grep -P -ho ': loaded serial\s+\K[0-9]+$'`
sed -i 's/'$SERIAL'\(\s*\);Serial/'$(($SERIAL+1))'\1;Serial/' $ZONEFILE

Thanks, this is very helpful!

I keep getting errors when updating the NS records on the godaddy UI for some reason. I can enter a fake entry all together that doesn’t resolve and they take it (ns4.do.com), but when I put in the hostname of my second DNS server it keeps giving me an error and won’t save. This server responds/resolves fine using the dig command from multiple locations and external DNS testing tools.

When I called their support they said my DNS server is invalid and they can’t see my configuration or support it, but if I lease a server from them they can help. My server responds fine, I guess I feel like I’m being jerked around by them a bit, and not exactly sure how to respond. They claimed to run a verisign test on it that comes back invalid so the entry can’t be added, but every test I’ve run seems fine, and that doesn’t make sense seeing as I can add a non-resolving host all together. Any ideas why the web UI form and their support would say it’s invalid without providing any additional technical details at all? I’m too tired to call them back right now, I’m tired and it’s late.

This is just updating the NS records at this point, haven’t even got to the DS records part, I’m sure that’ll be fun :). The domain I configured DNSSEC on is registered elsewhere, so I emailed them to update the NS records on their end because they have no web ui. I don’t think they support DS records though either so I was going to transfer it to godaddy but as things stand, it seems like that might be a bad idea.

Can you please explain me the testing aspects that can be carried out for this tutorial? Thank you.

Try DigitalOcean for free

Click below to sign up and get $200 of credit to try our products over 60 days!

Sign up

Join the Tech Talk
Success! Thank you! Please check your email for further details.

Please complete your information!

Get our biweekly newsletter

Sign up for Infrastructure as a Newsletter.

Hollie's Hub for Good

Working on improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth? We'd like to help.

Become a contributor

Get paid to write technical tutorials and select a tech-focused charity to receive a matching donation.

Welcome to the developer cloud

DigitalOcean makes it simple to launch in the cloud and scale up as you grow — whether you're running one virtual machine or ten thousand.

Learn more
DigitalOcean Cloud Control Panel