Will internet users experience an outage soon?

Internet users worldwide were warned that they may experience network difficulties over the next 24 hours as key domain servers undergo routine maintenance, according to a report by a Russian news organization.

Background

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers is based in Los Angeles and is responsible for maintaining the registry of domain names and IP addresses on the internet. Domain Name Servers (DNS) are considered to be the Internet’s version of a phone book as they maintain a directory of domain names and translate them into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.

This year, ICANN planned to perform a Root Zone Domain System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) KSK roll over. For a KSK rollover, a new cryptographic public and private key pair must be generated and distributed to entities that operate validating resolvers such as Internet Service Providers, enterprise network administrators and other DNS resolver operators, system integrators and hardware or software distributors who install or ship the roots “trust anchor.”

Maintaining an updated KSK is important to ensure that DNSSEC-validating DNS resolvers continue to function after the rollover. If the root zone KSK isn’t current, DNS resolvers may be unable to resolve DNS queries.

Analysis

A Russian media organization reported internet users may face connectivity issues over the next two days as ICANN updates the cryptographic key to help protect DNS against growing security threats.

ICANN previously carried out preliminary tests that showed the key replacement process would create minimal problems. The organization said the root KSK rollover would potentially affect “only a tiny fraction of DNS users.” During the process of updating, some pages may not be available or load slowly.

The organization has since updated that the KSK rollover has already taken place.

Assessment

Our assessment is that the scheduled rollover will not affect millions of users worldwide as drastically as reported, barring slow or temporary unavailability of certain websites. We also believe that if the rollover were to cause more serious issues, ICANN would have given fair warning given the ubiquity of the internet across companies, markets, and processes in every sector worldwide.