At the beginning of December 2023, we released a new version of FRED, the domain management system we developed for the operation of the Czech national domain, .CZ. and serving the same purpose in ten other countries. It is used to manage the domains of Argentina (.AR), Bosnia and Herzegovina (.BA), Costa Rica (.CR), Albania (.AL), North Macedonia (.MK), Tanzania (.TZ), Angola (.IT.AO and .CO.AO), Malawi (.MW), Lesotho (.LS) and Macau (.MO). The new version of FRED is pieced together from a multitude of incremental changes developed over the last 12+ months, which, with a few exceptions, we have continuously deployed into production in our country. A number of the modifications were interdependent in a significant way, so it was not possible to publish minor updates of the system because it would have been difficult for foreign registries to switch to them. FRED 2.48 is recommended as the version to upgrade to.
I try to describe the basic building blocks of our national domain registry administration to people around me quite often. Yet (or maybe for that very reason), the .cz is still perceived as something that simply works. Just like when you get in your car to take your children to school every morning. You expect the journey to take the usual 10 minutes (or 15 if you need to refuel) and that you won’t have to deal with any trouble. Even though you know that you need to change the oil regularly, check and change worn parts, or repair defects caused by operation, most of you leave these “out of order” cases to service professionals or at least a handy neighbor and avoid having to wash your hands from automotive grease or to remember the required type of brake pads. Modern cars are able to inform you of any necessary maintenance and all you have to do is dial the correct phone number. Although you don’t fully understand the person at the other end of the line, they manage to get through to you because you have a basic idea of how a car works.
It is no longer “trending”, but at the dawn of the millennium, the increasing globalization together with the rise of modern technology and especially the Internet gave birth to the term “Follow the Sun”. For the young or old and forgetful, here is what it was all about. For example, while online services that usually require continuous operation and worldwide accessibility at any given time, a service may stop working or become inaccessible to some users. Anytime. How to provide technical support for such service without forcing employees to be awake at night in a certain time zone? Spread the workers around the world so that you always have someone who has daytime (the Sun over their head) and can provide support for the online service. And if the worker can’t solve the issue, they would pass it to the next one in the direction of the moving sun, who would finish the job. The fact that the time needed to solve the request was not measured in hours, but in the number of revolutions of the request around the Earth, is not so important.
As we have reported several times, after massive upgrades of the anycast DNS for the .CZ domain zone in recent years and building of the 100GbE DNS infrastructure, we are now focusing more on targeted tuning of the anycast operation. For example, we try launching new DNS stacks in the locations of significant DNS traffic sources, both abroad and in Czechia. The launch of the DNS stack on the CESNET network at the beginning of April is the most recent fruit of this work.
On the 15th of November, following the prior maintenance notification, our system administrators have successfully installed a new version of FRED, the system that is the basis of the .cz domain name registry (as well as national domain name registries in a dozen of other countries). What does that actually mean though?
For many years, our association has been running a service going by the acronym “ODVR” – Open DNSSEC Validating Resolvers. At times when DNSSEC was just beginning, we thought it was necessary to come up with an alternative to DNS resolvers provided by ISPs who introduced the validation support too slowly. Since then, we have offered a publicly available service that allows validation of domains using DNSSEC security even in those networks whose default DNS resolvers do not support this.
DNS records contain a lot of important data, including the information on how quickly such data becomes obsolete, the so-called TTL (Time To Live). TTL in the DNS indicates for how long the data can be stored on a recursive nameserver (resolver) without it being retrieved from an authoritative nameserver. The lower the TTL, the more frequently resolvers query authoritative nameservers and obtain the most recent data. At the same time, however, a short TTL causes heavier load on nameservers, and if DNS records do not change often, the TTL is usually set to several hours.
This year’s December 5 made it into the history of Czech Internet security by crossing a significant threshold. From this date, in the registry of .cz domains there are more domains with DNSSEC security than those which lack this protocol extension. Information provided by DNS systems of more than 51% (653,297) of .cz domains can now be authenticated to ensure that it was not spoofed on the way to the user.