DNS Query

DNS Query

The seamless browsing experience we often take for granted is underpinned by a complex network of systems and protocols. Among these, one of the most integral yet often overlooked components is the Domain Name System (DNS). It operates silently in the background, translating the web addresses we know and use into a language that computers understand.

This process involves DNS queries, the cream and bread of our online interactions, ensuring we connect to the right destination amongst the trillions of other addresses on the internet.

What is DNS Query?

A DNS query is a request made from a user's device, typically a computer or a mobile device, to a DNS server to obtain specific information. Primarily, it is used to find the IP address associated with a domain name. 

When you type a website address into your browser, your device sends a DNS query to translate the domain name into an IP address, which is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network. 

While domain names are easy for people to remember, computers and networks rely on IP addresses to locate and identify websites and services on the Internet. 


Types of DNS Queries

DNS queries can be categorized into three main types: recursive, iterative, and non-recursive queries. Each type operates differently in the DNS resolution process.

  • Recursive Query: This type of query obliges the DNS resolver to provide an answer. The resolver queries various servers, starting from the DNS Root Server and moving up to the Authoritative Name Server, to find the required information​​​​.
  • Iterative Query: In an iterative query, the DNS client requests the resolver to provide the best possible answer. If the resolver has the information in its cache, it responds directly. Otherwise, it refers the client to a server closer to the required DNS zone, and the client repeats the query against this new server​​​​.
  • Non-Recursive Query: This type is used when the resolver already knows the answer, either from its cache or because it queries a DNS Name Server authoritative for the record. There's no need for additional query rounds as seen in recursive or iterative queries

Types of DNS Records

DNS queries involve various types of DNS records, each serving a unique purpose in the resolution process. While there are over 45 different query types, the most commonly used include:

  • A Record (Address Record): This is one of the most fundamental types of DNS records, linking a domain name to its corresponding IPv4 address, allowing browsers to route user requests to the correct server.
  • AAAA Record: Similar to the A Record but for IPv6 addresses. It's essential for routing traffic on networks that use the newer IP address format.
  • CNAME Record (Canonical Name Record): Used to alias one name to another. For example, if you have multiple domain names pointing to the same IP address, CNAME records can be used to manage this without assigning an A or AAAA record to each domain.
  • MX Record (Mail Exchange Record): This record specifies the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain. It's a way to route emails to the correct email server.
  • TXT Record (Text Record): Typically used to provide text information to sources outside your domain. A common use is for verifying domain ownership and implementing email security measures like SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail).
  • NS Record (Name Server Record): Indicates the servers that are authoritative for a particular domain. This record is used to delegate a subdomain to a set of name servers.
  • PTR Record (Pointer Record): Used primarily for reverse DNS lookups, where you query an IP address to find its associated hostname. This is the opposite of what A and AAAA records do.
  • SRV Record (Service Record): Used to identify the location of servers for specific services. It specifies the port number and the hostname of servers offering particular services, like VOIP or IMAP.
  • SOA Record (Start of Authority Record): This record stores essential domain information, such as the primary name server, the email of the domain administrator, domain serial number, and several timers relating to refreshing the zone.

DNS Security Considerations

DNS queries are vital, which means they can be the prime target of attacks since them being compromised can relate to the entire system being brought down on its knees. 

Threats to DNS Security

DNS Spoofing/Cache Poisoning: This technique involves maliciously altering the DNS cache data within a DNS server. The attacker inserts a false address record for a legitimate website, directing users to a fraudulent site instead. This can lead to information theft, malware distribution, or phishing attacks.

DNS Hijacking: In DNS hijacking, the attacker diverts the DNS resolution process from a legitimate DNS server to a malicious one. This allows them to redirect users to harmful websites, even when the correct URL is entered. The motive can range from spreading malware to capturing sensitive user data.

Measures for Enhancing DNS Security

In order to protect your business from such threats, you need to consider some basic security measures, and build upon them. These can include:

Use of Encrypted Protocols (DoH and DoT)

DNS over HTTPS (DoH) sends DNS queries and responses over HTTPS, ensuring data integrity and confidentiality. It prevents eavesdropping and tampering by encrypting the data between the user's device and the DNS resolver.

Similar to DoH, DNS over TLS (DoT) encrypts DNS queries using the TLS protocol, offering protection against interception and manipulation of DNS data.

DNSSEC (DNS Security Extensions)

DNSSEC adds a layer of security by validating the authenticity of the response in the DNS resolution process. It uses digital signatures to ensure that the DNS data hasn't been tampered with, preventing attacks like cache poisoning.

Regular Software Updates 

Consistently updating DNS server software is critical in safeguarding against known vulnerabilities. Patches and updates often include fixes for security flaws that could be exploited by attackers.


To sum it all up, these queries and the associated records enable users to access websites easily and securely. As technology evolves, so do the methods to optimize and secure DNS queries thereby boosting page load times, while ensuring the internet remains an efficient and safe platform for information exchange.

Published on:
December 28, 2023
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