8-9 March 2018
Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico
America/Puerto_Rico timezone

Disappearing Choice of Recursive DNS Services in Home Networks

8 Mar 2018, 12:00
209-BC (Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico)


Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico

100 Calle Guamaní San Juan 00907 Puerto Rico
Public Workshop Public Workshop


Robert Edmonds (Fastly, Inc.)


Virtually all client devices in homes connected to the Internet obtain recursive DNS server settings automatically. A home LAN can be expected to provide DHCP service, and DHCP can be expected to provide DNS servers that provide some minimal baseline of DNS service. While many Internet users are completely unaware of the critical service that the DNS provides, a technically savvy user capable of making an informed choice of recursive DNS providers frequently encounters friction actually making that choice due to two factors: 1) Some client operating systems make it impossible to override the DNS server settings obtained from DHCP. For instance, Android does not allow obtaining IP address assignments from DHCP while using static, user chosen DNS servers. 2) The gateway device that provides the DHCP server for the home is increasingly not a retail off-the-shelf appliance, but a device leased from the ISP that runs firmware approved by the ISP. Large ISPs in particular appear to be restricting or removing the ability for the subscriber to configure the DNS server settings in the gateway devices that they provide to customers. That is, this functionality *only* appears to be disappearing from ISP-branded hardware, not from retail gateway devices, which have retained this basic customization feature continuously since they first appeared on the market. This presentation will mainly focus on the second factor, because even if all client devices supported manual DNS server configuration, it would be very tedious to statically configure every device in one's home, and tedium is a form of friction. Are there workarounds for the technically savvy user? Yes, but there are tradeoffs in terms of extra expenses or technical quality. For instance, any technical workaround that requires purchasing additional hardware is a workaround that is unavailable to users who cannot afford that additional expense. Why are some ISPs doing this? Are there arguably legitimate security reasons for this? Can/should these ISPs be convinced to stop in the interest of consumer choice?
Talk Duration 30 Minutes

Primary author

Robert Edmonds (Fastly, Inc.)

Presentation Materials

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