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Why is the DNS so widely discussed at the moment? How do you monitor DNS servers to preserve seamless website operation? Which DNS monitoring tools are the best? You can find all the answers in the most comprehensive guide from Folderly!

Time to Monitor DNS Server with the Best DNS Monitoring Tools

The primary task of a domain name system (DNS) is to provide a smooth and timely online experience for all the users on the web. Whether these are the many websites you access throughout the day, social media chats, or different email services – none would have provided the usual performance you are used to if it weren't for the DNS server's ability to deliver a satisfactory online experience. With all that in mind, it is safe to assume that all sorts of cybercriminals can't waste an opportunity to hack the DNS service in any way possible.

All that implies that proper DNS server monitoring is a factor not to be treated lightly. A well-designed monitoring approach will help to ensure that your website traffic is routed well, without any suspicious interruptions. You can also track the primary DNS records to search for fraudulent or unauthorized activity. In a vast majority of cases, hackers choose these records to let themselves into the server. That is where the best DNS monitoring tools come in useful since they are developed to protect you from most known cyber threats. This detailed and comprehensive guide will shine some light on using the monitoring services to your advantage, along with other critical DNS data.

DNS – a brief introduction

The best way to start our journey would be to describe what DNS stands for. The Domain Name System is a service designed to convert various domain names into different IP addresses. To put it simply, DNS ensures that your browser can access any server that contains the type of content you are looking for.

The DNS hierarchy is always well-structured and precise. Such an approach ensures that any DNS database stores a separate portion of the information that points you to the requested site or platform. Every database of a given DNS server is always busy since it has to deal with numerous requests from people and their devices all over the globe. In case you want to have an approximate number of DNS requests per a single one-page entry – it would be around 50 requests. Simple math will lead you to the conclusion that you can create hundreds, if not thousands, of such requests within a single browsing session. Multiply the result by the number of people surfing the web every second of the day, and the final result will surely overwhelm you. However, it needs to be mentioned that DNS is so potent that it deals with all these domain names in less than one second.

DNS operation process explained

With all the impressive data on DNS, you may want to dwell a little on how it does it. So, how does DNS work? The answer to that isn't as simple as you may have hoped for, but you can still manage to grasp the general point if you read attentively. We have mentioned that DNS converts any domain name to an IP address. However, an average user does not see the conversion process since it is hidden. All you can see is how you enter a request into the search bar and get the result you seek in less than a moment. The period between initiating the request and achieving the search result is when the conversion takes place.

DNS server requires four different components to fulfill the action properly. These components are the following:

Recursive DNS server

It is the primary task of an Internet service provider to provide the DNS recursor. The recursor, in its turn, receives the queries, resolves them, and provides an IP address. It serves as the main connector between the servers. DNS recursor is responsible for data organization, communication, and transfer. After searching the cache, the recursor seeks a current IP address. If no such address is available, it refers to the root name server.

Root name server

Root servers usually come into the play when a recursor can't manage to find what it needs in the DNS cache. The root name server remains on the top of DNS. The position it preoccupies is named a root zone. All in all, 13 root zones are run by different organizations. When the request reaches the root server, the recursor will get the required IP address. The TLD server needs all the IP addresses.

TLD name server

Top Level Domain or TLD gets the request next. Given server holds the data hostnames that share similar extensions. Think of all the .com, .net, and .edu extensions you come across during the search. The main aim of the TLD server is to point the DNS recursor to the authoritative name server IP.

Authoritative name server

The final stage before the inquiry gets resolved is the authoritative name server. The given server stores all the specific domain data. Thus, the server converts the hostname to the correct IP address. After the process is complete, the information is sent back to the recursor for it to cache the new details. Once the mission is fulfilled, the user will be able to access the desired website or platform through the presented IP address.

Surely, the whole process takes place faster than you read through the mentioned information. Just imagine the space of time between you pressing the enter button and the site information appearing on your screen. That is how long it takes for the DNS server to carry out its functions.

Primary threats that DNS servers may face

DNS attacks are more common than you could have expected. All due to the fact that initially, a DNS system was designed as a steady-operation tool, and the notion of utmost security hadn't been given much attention at that point. That is why the idea of effective DNS monitoring is growing in popularity by the day. To bring the notion of primary threats that a DNS server may face, let's discuss them in further detail.

Zero-Day-Exploit

Such a complicated name means that DNS hijacking targets the weak spots you have had no idea existed.

DNS poisoning

DNS poisoning or cache poisoning means that someone has accessed the system with the sole goal of manipulating it via the server IP address replacement in the DNS cache. Such an attack ensures that your users are redirected to other potentially harmful resources, valuable data collected, or any other fraudulent activities performed. Very often, DNS poisoning is aimed at personal data retrieving so that users' credit card credentials or additional vital information is leaked. Yet, there are cases when a human error occurs, and the poisoning is done unintentionally.

DoS

In case you don't know what a DoS is, it is deciphered as Denial of Service. It is critical to monitor DNS servers for DoS attacks since they disrupt legitimate request flow. Through such attacks, the traffic that some IP addresses get increases significantly, so they can't deal with it effectively and deny legitimate requests as a sequence.

DDoS

A Distributed Denial of Service is similar to what a DoS attack represents. Yet, in this case, the aim is to ruin the DNS infrastructure which supports a site by supplying an immense number of queries within a short time.

DNS Amplification

Proper DNS monitoring involves a constant lookout for DNS Amplifications. When a wide variety of requests can't be responded to, they are spread over other DNS servers. Thus, any potential attack amplifies and covers more and more resources.

The notion of DNS monitoring explained

Since we are about to discuss the most popular helpful DNS monitoring tools, you may as well want to learn what the notion of server monitoring is and how it works. Those who decide on monitoring DNS servers usually initiate automated queries aimed at a given DNS server. The results that the monitoring process concludes will define the following actions.

One of the most popular ways of DNS monitoring would be to verify the returning IP address that the server gets. The DNS monitoring system will continue the process when the server receives the correct address. However, if an incorrect address turns up, the fittest DNS monitoring solution would be the DNS incident initiated. The incident is when the DNS becomes unavailable.

How should you monitor the DNS server?

DNS server monitoring tools are incredibly useful when it comes to detecting any potential risk to the system. You can monitor the DNS performance by evaluating a few essential criteria. If you want each DNS entry to remain on the top, it's worth paying attention to the following components:

IP address

Proper server monitoring includes a precise lookout for mismatched IP addresses. Once a DNS query is provided, the IP address from the system should be compared to the one DNS carries. If something goes wrong, the monitoring system will inform you immediately so that you can take corresponding actions.

SOA record

When you monitor DNS server performance, paying attention to SOA records is essential. These records hold a serial number that can be tempered to initiate an attack. The sooner you spot the differences in the serial number, the easier it will be to prevent the attack.

MX and SRV records

No matter how reliable an Email delivery service you use, the email system can be hacked nonetheless. That is what MX and SVR records can help with. Should you constantly monitor them, you will be able to prevent the loss of vital communication routes.

NS record

Effective DNS server management involves NS record testing as well. The approach ensures that none of the primary or backup DNS records are altered in a fraudulent manner. It helps to test name servers to see if the information they carry is true to life.

The best DNS monitoring tools

Now, when you know why and how you should be monitoring the DNS, it takes a set of quality DNS monitoring tools to succeed with the goal. The variety of options that support DNS server management is growing by the day, but we've rounded up the list of the best server monitoring software to 5 outstanding providers:

SolarWinds Server & Application monitor

The first DNS monitoring tool from the SolarWinds is known for its impressive monitoring possibilities, topped with supreme network performance management.

Key features

  • Automatic network topology map creation
  • User-friendly interface
  • DNS server availability tests
  • A plethora of scripted remediation functions
  • Enhanced service scalability

Paessler PRTG Network

Another well-known tool for speedy detection of existing and potential DNS issues would be the Paessler PRTG Network. The monitor inspects DNS server performance closely too.

Key features

  • Enabled autodiscovery for seamless inventory
  • Numerous alert mediums are available
  • Customized dashboards and reports
  • Sensor-based payment process
  • Improved response time

Site24x7 DNS Server Monitoring

If you search for a free DNS lookup tool just to test the waters, Site24x7 DNS Server Monitoring may come of use. The service allows it to monitor up to 5 sites for free. However, pre-paid features of the software are as attention-worthy.

Key features

  • Single-dashboard monitoring available
  • Performance alerts enabled
  • Free version presented
  • Cloud-based platform
  • Availability checks offered

Nagios XI

Another worthy DNS monitor on the list would be Nagios XI. The Monitoring Wizard that the tool presents ensures that even users with little to no industry experience can easily manage potential DNS errors.

Key features

  • User-oriented setup process
  • Internal and external monitoring enabled
  • Countless visualization options
  • Extended free trial period
  • Enhanced DNS server supervision is available

Dotcom-Monitor

Dotcom-Monitor stands out from all the DNS monitoring tools since it is impressively simple and straightforward.

Key features

  • Instant DNS trace response
  • Customized alert templates
  • Website traffic monitoring
  • Problem DNS server activity checks
  • DNS server failure notifications

Why do you need DNS monitoring tools?

Do you still wonder why DNS monitoring is important? The main role of DNS server tools is to see the connection quality between the servers. The better the response time is – the stronger the connection will be. Yet, you can't gather such data without proper DNS monitoring tools.

Server health and performance are the points that most monitoring software inspects. After initiating the monitoring process, you will spot potential disconnections and drops in performance immediately. Such an approach ensures that you can fix any current issue before it spreads.

Another popular benefit of enabling one of the best monitoring tools would be an insight into accessibility. Some DNS accessibility issues may result in limited access to your website. Thus, you may lose visitors and potential clients without knowing it.

Let's summarize the critical perks of proper DNS monitoring:

  • Fully automated monitoring, 24/7 with no need for manual maintenance
  • Simple and effortless software installation
  • Testing of different endpoints is enabled

Conclusion

The notion of DNS monitoring isn't as widely advertised as some other testing routines, but it remains just as essential if you want your website or platform to function correctly. Aside from connectivity issues, proper monitoring tools can provide you with the means to detect and prevent potential cyber threats and hacker attacks. All it takes is to pick the fittest option from the list above and let the devoted professionals do their work.

Speaking about industry experts, it is worth noting that Folderly experts are not only proficient in the sphere of DNS monitoring. Our skilled team members have dedicated guides on effective email deliverability, professional cold outreach technique, and other vital subjects that will help your business flourish. Come and take a look!

FAQ

Why is DNS monitoring important?

Each and every DNS record is designed to offer utmost effectiveness when it comes to the addressing system. Proper DNS monitoring will ensure adequate service accessibility, reliability, and security of the server. Aside from that, the best monitoring tools can prevent all sorts of hacking attacks that can disrupt the whole process.

Can you be tracked by DNS?

It is vital to note that DNS services are all about the IP address and the domain name, not the URL. So, you can't possibly be tracked by DNS.

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