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I've been tasked to look into implementing DNSSEC on our name servers. While the technical side of this (generate keys, sign zones, prepare rollovers) are relatively straightforward, I've run into a logistical problem. I am looking to run different DNSSEC implementations on different name servers.

Do DNSSEC Zone Signing Key (ZSK) need to be the same on all Name Servers? If so why?

  • Can you elaborate on the actual problem you are trying to solve? I get the feeling this an XY problem question. – Håkan Lindqvist Jan 6 '18 at 14:41
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If you mean on all nameservers authoritative for a given zone, then yes they need to share the keys, since they are published as DNSKEY records, which will be used by recursive validating clients to check the signatures.

Now, nameserver A could publish DNSKEY of ZSK A + all RRSIG done with ZSK A, and nameserver B could have ZSK B + all RRSIG done with ZSK B. And each one with DNSKEY of the KSK and the RRSIG with the KSK of the relevant ZSK.

For DNSSEC to validate a nameserver needs to find at least one correct path of keys and signatures. So, theoretically, a recursive nameserver hitting only nameserverA and retrieving all records from there, could get from there everything it needs to validate records. Same if it hits only nameserverB.

The problem however is with the only part and the fact that things are cached and that recursive nameservers do not "lock" themselves to one authoritative nameserver, but will switch depending on various algorithms. The resolving nameserver may have in its cache a mix of data with, for examples, DNSKEY A and RRSIG from B. Then, the validation will fail.

So, in short, I would be very much surprised if this works reliably.

This is discussed in length in this document: https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-huque-dnsop-multi-provider-dnssec/?include_text=1 It tries to see how a domain name could use more than one DNS provider at the same time for resolution, but still have proper DNSSEC management, with various scenarios depending on who does ths signing.

You could test that, but as Håkan said it seems you have another problem before coming to this problem.

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Do DNSSEC Zone Signing Key (ZSK) need to be the same on all Name Servers? If so why?

Zone Signing Keys (ZSK) and Key Signing Keys (KSK) don't need to be on any of the name-servers.

By the design of DNSSEC, a name-server can answer queries with pre-signed records, including new records for proving denial-of-existence of a queried record.

The ZSKs simply need to be possessed by whichever host intends to sign the zone files, the rest of the name-servers simply need a copy of the new signed zone, which can be passed through master-slave name-server setups.

A simple setup may be to have the ZSKs on the master name-server. The slave name-servers do not have a reason to know the ZSKs if they are not signing zones.

Edit: As Håkan Lindqvist has mentioned, the ZSKs and KSKs technically are on all name-servers, however only the public portion of the key in the form of DNSKEY records in the pre-signed zone file. When I referred to KSKs and ZSKs above, I meant the private portions of the keys which are meant to be kept secret.

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  • It seems your answer only considers the private keys, the public keys very much need to be in the zone (as DNSKEY records). – Håkan Lindqvist Jan 6 '18 at 14:36
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    I would consider that as part of the pre-signed zone file, since it would be incomplete without DNSKEY RR and corresponding RRSIG RR. – Torin Jan 6 '18 at 16:28

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