DNS Abuse Responses

From ICANNWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

DNS Abuse Responses are the various tools, methods, collaboration, and philosophies spawning from DNS Abuse itself.


There are four time-related categories of responses to DNS Abuse:

  1. reactionary detection and removal of sources of abuse (necessarily after the fact),
  2. cotemporal efforts to mitigate the amount and likelihood of abuse or its impact,
  3. future-focused work on stopping abuse before it can happen, and
  4. ongoing allowance of abuse for ideological or jurisdictional reasons.

Response Options

Reactionary Removal

Cotemporal Mitigation

Future Prevention

Intentional Inaction & Evidentiary Collection

Points of View

Every type of Internet user has worries over DNS Abuse and the responses to it. For instance, there is an ongoing multistakeholder debate over where to draw the line between technical abuse and content abuse. Moreover, there are technical limits on what each type of stakeholder can do to stop abuse.

Social Scientists

Intergovernmental Organizations

IGO responses generally see DNS Abuse as a facet of Cybercrime.


  • Pro-privacy legislation, such as the GDPR, limits access to natural persons' data.

Government Responses

Government responses tend to focus on what can be adjudicated; include content abuse, such as child pornography; and outline how and when electronic evidence can be collected.

Domestic Legislation

In the U.S., cybersecurity legislation thus far has focused on standardizing and formalizing preventative measures.[1] Congress passed


The CISA seeks to prevent future cyberattacks on critical infrastructure.


The FBI leads the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) and runs the public-facing Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to collect cybercrime and electronic evidence of other types of crimes.

Responding to State-Sponsored Cyberattacks
  • SolarWinds Hacking Attack: In an executive order issued April 15, 2021, President Biden levied economic sanctions against Russian financial institutions, technology companies, and individuals that participated in this series of hacks that infiltrated nine federal agencies and over 100 private companies.[2]
  • Microsoft Email Systems Hacking Attack: On July 19, 2021, the Biden administration formally condemned but did not inflict sanctions against the Chinese government for working with hackers to breaching Microsoft email systems.[3]

Technical Community

Internet Governance Organizations


So far, ICANN has been steadfast in its focus on technical DNS abuse and avoidance of policymaking around content abuse. ICANN's determination of the org's definition for DNS Abuse is based on the work product of GAC and the base gTLD Registry Agreement. Thus, ICANN considers DNS security threats to be limited to attacks involving phishing, malware, botnet command and control, pharming, and spam as a vector.[4] As recently as ICANN 71, the ICANN board was criticized by members of the ALAC, the BC, and other Internet Governance bodies for not doing enough to steward contracted parties and non-contracted parties toward involvement in reducing abuse. However, ICANN and SSAC, in particular, have begun pointing to SAC115 and DAAR as evidence of their work on addressing DNS abuse. Parts of ICANN Org, Board, and Community dedicated to resolving DNS Abuse issues:

  • OTCO monitors gTLD zone files and runs
  • SSAC advises on the stability and security of the DNS, and
  • Contractual Compliance is not beholden to the DNS Abuse Framework; instead, the office can reprimand registrars or registries that do not maintain abuse contacts (or a webform) to receive abuse complaints or promptly investigate allegations of DNS Abuse in good faith.
  • DAAR


DNS Abuse Institute

Currently, this newcomer is entirely focused on creating an interoperable framework to reduce DNS abuse. The DNSAI acknowledges there are two options for reducing security threats: proactive and reactive methods. The institute is currently putting more of its energy into developing reactive tools because they can be used by anti-abuse or compliance personnel without requiring integration in registration platforms and thus, broad buy-in should be easier to secure.[5]

Private Sector

Registries and Registars

  • The DNS Abuse Framework was developed by registries and registrars. The framework discourages a registry or registrar from taking action against domains, except in certain types of Website Content Abuse:
  1. child sexual abuse materials,
  2. illegal distribution of opioids online,
  3. human trafficking, or
  4. specific, credible incitements to violence
  1. include their own acceptable use policies or terms of use to set forth provisions to cover Website Content Abuses,
  2. contract Trusted Notifiers to monitor content and report abuse
  1. Have to determine whether the domain in question was maliciously registered or if the domain has been compromised. Registries cannot generally directly remediate a compromised domain; instead, it is up to the sponsoring registrar.[6] Conversely, if a domain has been maliciously registered, the registry has six options:
  2. Suspend the domain (most common)
  3. Refer to the sponsoring registrar
  4. Lock the domain
  5. Redirect a domain by changing the name servers
  6. Transfer the domain
  7. Delete the domain (generally considered an ineffective and extreme response)
If a registry encounters unregistered domain names resulting from an automatic Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA), the operator can:
  1. Reserve the domains or
  2. create the domains in order to suspend or sinkhole the domains for victim identification


Site Operators, Registrants, and Hosting Providers can remove content. More generally, the business community wants


Intellectual property lawyers


Internet Service and Connectivity providers

Reputation Industry

End Users

End users, even those who work in the DNS industry, need help managing DNS Abuse mainly because of the timeless effectiveness of Social Engineering Attacks. For instance, at the end of 2020, GoDaddy notoriously tested its workers to see if they would share sensitive information after clicking on dubious links from a spoofed email.[7]