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SAC 025 | Fast Flux Hosting and DNS

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"Fast flux hosting" refers to the automated, rapid modification of IP addresses assigned to hosts in the DNS to hide the location of web sites supporting malicious, illegal, or criminal activities. This SSAC Advisory explains how fast flux hosting exploits domain name and name registration services to frustrate detection and prolong the lifetime of illegal web sites. It examines current and possible methods of detecting and mitigating fast flux hosting at various points in the Internet by private network operators, ISPs, domain name registrars and TLD registries; for example, the identification and removal of malicious code installed on compromised computers and IP address isolation. In the process, the Advisory explains why fast flux hosting defies many such "traditional" mitigation techniques.

The Advisory also considers measures that certain registrars and registries implement today: monitoring changes to DNS records that are indicative of fast flux hosting, restricting DNS change frequencies and value ranges, and monitoring registrant account access to prevent automation. It further considers how registrars can use apply such measures to expedite illegal web site and domain name suspension processes. The Advisory recommends that ICANN, registries and registrars to consider these practices, establish best practices to mitigate fast flux hosting, and consider whether such practices should be addressed in future agreements.

Domain Name System
Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as"""" is not an IDN."