Connecting to the internet is a seamless task for many of us. We simply type in the domain name of a website we want to visit, and we get there within seconds. There’s no need to worry about having to go through a complicated process beforehand. Well, we have DNS to thank for this.
Another great thing about a DNS is that it facilitates users who want to buy a domain. It checks the proposed domain name through the DNS server and sees if it is already correlated with an IP address. If not, then the domain name is available for purchase.
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This article will explain what a DNS is, how it works, why it is essential, and how to monitor it.
Let’s get started.
What Is DNS?
DNS stands for domain name system. It’s essentially the internet’s phonebook because it contains a database of every domain name and IP address on the internet.
DNS connects domain names to IP addresses. Hence whenever a user types in a website’s URL in their web browsers, the DNS will find the IP address matching the domain name.
A single DNS directory is vast. This is because, as of the first quarter of 2021, there were 363.5 million registered domain names. To function correctly, the DNS directory is distributed globally and stored on DNS servers. The servers regularly communicate with each other to provide updates and clear up redundancies.
How Does It Work?
DNS’s main task is to store the data and link the domain names with IP addresses whenever requested. But, other aspects contribute to a DNS’s functionality. Those are:
- Domain Namespace Hierarchy – The hierarchical structure of DNS allows users to quickly find the correct server which hosts the DNS records they want.
- Distribution – DNS records are distributed through a vast network of connected servers. Each server only handles small portions of the data.
- Record Maintenance – DNS locates IP addresses, connects them to domain names, and stores the data.
Whenever you type in a domain name to your web browser, your computer will first check the cache to see if it has previously requested the domain name. If the computer found no record, it will send a request to your local DNS server.
The local DNS server will check whether it has any records in its cache. If the documents can’t be found, it will need to find the information of the name server that hosts the domain record for the specific domain.
The local DNS server braids the domain name into sections. For example, www.website.com will be split into:
The com is the top-level domain. Firstly, the local DNS server will connect to a root name server to find further information about the server that has the specific domain info for the TLD.
When the TLD name server IP address is found, the local DNS server will request the new server to see which name server holds the information for the second part of the domain, which is the website part.
Next, the local DNS server will create more requests for the name servers with the data on website.com and then www.website.com until the IP address is found. Then your web browser can use the IP address to contact the server which hosts the website.
Why Understanding DNS Is Important
Understanding DNS is vital because it is the backbone of the internet. If a DNS is not responding, you won’t be able to connect to websites online. This is because you don’t know the IP address of the website and instead only remember their domain names.
If DNS fails to translate the domain name to the appropriate IP address, you won’t access any websites. However, it’s still possible to type in IP addresses to the web browser to reach the website you want. Though finding and remembering the numbers can be bothersome.
How to Monitor Your DNS Server?
You’ll then need to conduct DNS monitoring to manage and ensure the communication security between web browsers, websites, and the services they use. DNS monitoring can help quickly identify issues, security breaches and prevent targeted attacks.
Because DNS is prone to cyberattacks like DNS poisoning and DDoS attacks, effective DNS monitoring regularly checks the DNS records for unexpected changes or outages. Your team can then resolve any issues swiftly to prevent them from having a negative impact on your website.
When monitoring your DNS, there are several crucial things you need to focus on, which are:
- SOA Record – The SOA or Start of Authority record has a serial number that is updated whenever there is a change within a DNS. Knowing the differences can help prevent a possible attack.
- NS Records – The NS or nameserver records help you catch any potential tampering with your primary or backup records. Testing the nameservers allows you to ensure that they are responding correctly.
- MX and SRV Records – The MX and SRV records are responsible for handling your communications and emails. Regularly monitoring them helps avoid any loss of communication and email records while also helping prevent rerouting messages.
- IP Addresses – Monitoring the IP addresses helps you quickly notice possible errors or spoofs.
Once you know what to look out for, you can go ahead and use monitoring tools to help conduct regular checks for you. Examples of great tools include DNSCheck and Catchpoint.
DNS is the backbone of the internet. It contains the database of every domain name and IP address online.
DNS connects a domain name with the related IP address. Should it fail to complete the task, users won’t access the website they inquired about.
Because DNS is vital, you must monitor your DNS regularly. This is to ensure the security of the communication between web browsers, websites, and the services they use.
Now that you know what a DNS is, how it works, why it’s crucial to understand it, and how to conduct DNS monitoring, all that’s left to do is for you to start using one of the DNS monitoring tools I’ve mentioned and check your DNS.