The basic problem this software intend to solve is the notification of a DNS server by a client with a dynamic IPv4 address. If I did not have my own DNS, services from dyndns.org or no-ip.org or stuff like that would be adapted, but as I run my own DNS I feel it would be lighter, safer, and more satisfying not to depend on third-party services.
I will assume we have a full access to a box which runs a DNS for the
mydomain.example, and its hostname is server or
The client is a box running in a private network, connected to the internet through a dumb, proprietary and undocumented NAT router, whose public IP address can be changed at any time depending on the whims of the ISP. This is a common situation here in France.
The problem is to have a DNS record
on the server, pointing to the client's current public IP address.
The usual tool for remote DNS updates is
however I am not
satisfied with it, mainly because of two issues :
- the client can change anything in the DNS zone, not only its own record,
- the client has to somehow find out its own IP address before updating
There used to be a third point in that I do not like pre-shared secrets,
especially in a protocol involving public-key cryptography (both the server
nsupdate need the private key). I since realized that when
is compromised, the attacker can do anything the client could do anyway,
and when the server is compromised, the attacker can already do anything
to the DNS, but they can not do anything to the client because it does not
take any action. So using a public-key system would not be an improvement
over a pre-shared secret.
The first issue could be worked around by having the server delegate to
clientname.mydomain.example zone for each client. The client could
still do much more than I like, but at least the rest of
or other client's zones can not be reached. That is still to heavy and not
secure enough for my taste.
The second issue has to be worked around either by reverse-engineering a part of the NAT router to extract its public IP address, or by asking some box on the internet. That seems to be the purpose of http://checkip.dyndns.org/
So at first I thought about adding a similar page to the web server on my DNS box. Then I imagined what would be going on: the client asking its public IP address to the server, and then handing back the address to the same server for DNS update. That sounds like a waste of resources, why not simply having the client send a message to the server, and the server using the remote address embedded in the message to update the DNS record?
That is how this project began: writing a client sending messages once in a while, and a server listening to this message and updating the records accordingly, maybe through a nsupdate call. This way there is no need for the client to find out its public IP, it involves only a single packet per update, and the client cannot update anything besides its own A record.
That is exactly what this project does, when operating in "unsafe" mode. It is unsafe because no matter what kind of message you craft, if the client does not know its public IP address, any attacker can intercept the message and send it as-is on their behalf, thus injecting their IP into one of my DNS records. And actually this is exactly what I want to happen, except with the NAT router instead of an attacker.
Please note however that I do not think it is that unsafe. At least, it is not less safe than querying checkip.dyndns.org: if the attacker can intercept my message packet, they can intercept HTTP packets for checkip.dyndns.org and return whatever they want.
Still, one might want to be safe against that kind of attack. Assuming the client can safely find out its own address, it can be embedded into the message to operate in "safe" mode. It is safer because the IP address that ends up in the record cannot be changed after the packet is crafted.
However when you are in a stiuation where "safe" mode can be used, you
might want to use something else than this project. For example, in that
case the only remaining drawback to
nsupdate is that the client can do
whatever it wants with the zone. Another example is that since the client
knows its address, it knows when it changes, so it can send updates to the
server only when needed, which allows for a heavier update mechanism, e.g.
SSH'ing to the seerver and running an ad-hoc script there.