Add1son's Blog

A place for pondering, planning and projects

DNS After Death

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most prominently, it translates more readily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for locating and identifying computer services and devices with the underlying network protocols. By providing a worldwide, distributed directory service, the Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality on the Internet, that has been in use since 1985.

via wikipedia

“What happens when you type in google.com” is a classic interview question. The general idea of the question is that you can go in depth so far as to dissect what happens at every keystroke or you can say “well the website resolves”.  Either way in your answer the way that this system works is through DNS. This system has been in use for the last ~33 years and it is a great way that records work assuming that they are maintained. The idea that you will be able to maintain these records forever is a bit optimistic and some would even say impossible.

The issue here being when your DNS records expire through your name registrar of choice, they are going to be once again available for purchase. This means that if someone can purchase my domain they own my web identity. Obviously, this means that they could serve malware at my domain, redirect to another website and even setup a page defaming me. None of these are of that much concern as they are not avoidable but the most interesting idea behind a DNS record going to someone else is that the person would be able to inherit email that was meant to be sent to me. If that the email wasn’t encrypted they would have basically bought a PO box that previously belonged to me and receive all of my mail. The alternative to this being that you can host your email through a company on a server that belongs to someone else which isn’t without sacrifice as a decision to make. To dive into the inherit flaws in this is outside the scope of this blog post as these are not things that are within your control.

DNSSEC does exist that mitigates this issue to a point but it is not widely used. The idea here being that you no longer own the DNS records and the idea that possibly this could be mitigated. The idea that you could either license the domain for an extended period to make sure that the communication you were receiving goes to a next of kin perhaps or the alternative would be that you would be able to have a domain funeral. The domain funeral in this case being exactly akin to a traditional process of moving on to the afterlife (if you believe in that sort of thing) or being placed in a grave never to be accessed again. Currently with a system of this age the mortality of man was not factored into the system at design nor should it have been necessarily. The implications of this however are that if you own DNS you become a person without the proper mitigation which is not the standard now.

A business need seems to exist for a post mortem world of computational glory. A business built by trusted enthusiasts for other enthusiasts. Currently offerings for this are very primitive in Dead Man’s Switch as far as I can tell nothing like this exists. Granted the needs of this go beyond DNS and can extend to VPS systems that could be taken down, memories that need to be parsed out through multiple terabytes of hardware and cloud storage, and various online personas that a person can request to be archived or pulled down entirely. The amount of data that we store and use isn’t going to go down in size over time and largely the mortality of man isn’t considered when these systems are designed.

An anecdote that I can share is that I have a Great Grandfather who is currently 92 years old. He has a large sum of computational equipment and I believe that he was a great inspiration to myself in getting interested in computers. He has purchased video cameras since they were available and has recorded a myriad of family memories with them as well as a small collection of DSLR styled cameras and I believe he has 3 computers in his home office at my time of this writing. His wife or my Great Grandmother passed away leaving him a widow and it was at this moment that I started to ponder the implications of his passing as it isn’t a question of if so much as a question of when. This view depending on interpretation is “dark” or perhaps “removed” but the immediate thought of this being, I am the computer guy in the family and they are probably going to ask me for assistance on this. What would he want done with his records? Which ones would he want purged? What things should be cherished and where are they? What accounts currently exist in his name? What does he want done with them if anything? The ideas here being to honor my grandfather by honoring his wishes in the same way a will would be honored after his passing.

This post got a little into the weeds per say but the question that will be left here is this: What is your plan for your computers, DNS records and online accounts after you pass?

Update: I had read about this previously but I wasn’t able to find the information but now I have it! Andrew Kalat (@Lerg) wrote a book called “Managing Digital Legacies” and did a talk titled “Online No One Knows You’re Dead” at Shmoocon 2016.

Weekly Rundown Week 2 2018

Newsworthy
Video
Habits
  • Reading: The Daily Stoic

Weekly Rundown Week 1 2018

Newsworthy
Video
Tools that I am testing
  • Wavebox – Centralized cloud management built on chromium, disappointing it doesn’t have ublock origin built in but enterprise level SSO is interesting. Also doesn’t have support for WordPress natively.
  • QuietRSS – Portable RSS reader for the time being before I setup Tiny Tiny RSS as a self hosted alternative
  • Toby The Tab Manager – Mostly would be useful inside of an enterprise for onboarding / shared favorites but looking into something better than just Firefox’s bookmark manager on a Flash drive
Habits

2018

Today is the first of the year and 2018 is the first year that has started with genuine excitement for me. 2017 was a great year full of professional and personal development and I look forward to achieving everything that I set out to for 2018. When the previous year began I was thinking about goals that I would like to achieve and for the most part I was able to do them as documented on this blog of mine. The CSA+ I was able to get and I have been able to continue to increase my skills with a lab environment that will be replicated in my home office in the coming weeks.

2018 brings the following goals (tentative):

  • Continue to develop and read into philosophy as well as increase physical fitness
  • Refinance my home in an attempt to reduce overhead and free up money to go into solar power
  • Focus on making time for the things that matter
  • Continue to develop self hosted data analysis
  • Pursue an additional certificate or two perhaps dealing in virtualization, Windows Server and/or Linux

Weekly Rundown Week 51+52

Newsworthy
Video
Projects
  • Garage getting clean
  • Office staying clean
  • Ping Pong Table (New!)
  • Finishing iPod reassembly
  • Python 3 transition
Habits
  • See above
Rundown of other Rundowns

 

Weekly Rundown – Week 50 2017

Newsworthy
Video
Projects
  • Finally got all the parts for my iPod build! Will try and complete it early next week
Habits
  • Practicing German
Rundown of other Rundowns

Weekly Rundown – Week 49 2017

Newsworthy
Videos
Projects
  • iPod Video 5.5G DIY Refurbish – Post half written, waiting on replacement body shipping from CN
  • Garage is getting renovated, built bookshelf.
Habits
  • Grey-scaling cell phone to reduce use if not necessary – Source
  • Trying to spend less time on Youtube
Songs

John Maus- Hey Moon

Kavinsky- Nightcall

Kanye West – Welcome To Heartbreak ft. Kid Cudi

 

HomeLab Migration

Last episode on lab work I fixed networking issues, this can be found here.

This is what my “completed” lab looks like that I do testing with at work, the network can be interpreted pretty easily but if I remember I am going to include a network diagram of sorts for this as some might find it interesting.

Another identical piece of hardware to this has come home with me and I plan on getting it up and running very similar to this in my home setting. This includes running ESXi v6.5 and the 13 virtual machines back up and running. The names of the virtual machines indicate their purpose and it is pretty clear what each of them does from this alone. I am going to try and make this project into a blog post that will be easy to follow for anyone interested in any of the same things. The way that the lab is designed is an All-In-One styled design complete with with networking practice, Offensive/Defensive network and computer security as well as some other additional testing present.  Pfsense runs the backbone of the network and the whole thing was based off of the AVATAR Project by @da_667 . Pfsense is what makes it possible for all of the network simulation that allow this system to run and without it wouldn’t be able to handle anything nearly as robust as it is serving now.

The interesting parts of this will be seeing how much of it I can automate through scripting and .ovf files and I will try and keep a general timeline of how long it takes to get back up and running.  In the next write up I will catalog what changes I made to this design and how I plan on using it to learn more in the security and systems engineering fields.

‘Till then,

QuantiPy

This is a little bit of an offshoot from my normal posts and rather is an idea for a program of sorts that would be a quantification of how time is spent at a computer for better or for worse. This would help identify patterns and provide a single page overview of how a day at a computer was spent. This could be expanded to multiple devices as well as integration with mobile devices that would provide a wide range of telemetry. These devices could be fitness trackers, Smart phones (with integration into people you may have spoken to, places that you could have gone, and potentially even exercise that was carried out. The idea behind this being that you wouldn’t have to turn anything on but you would have a skeleton of what you had done in that given day. Google collects location data, programs like WhatPulse tracks keystrokes and can also do network usage+application usage, Fitness trackers offer daily summaries that show what you have done in a given day. This posits the question of, well why do we need something different than the solutions already offered? Because this data is yours but it isn’t in your possession. The idea behind this being that the software would be FOSS and give full control over the data as well as the programs to the power of the user.

The beauty of this project would be that it would all be self hosted and could have both local integration and VPS integration with exactly however many modules a person could choose to integrate providing a dashboard or a high level overview of what occurred in a given day. This data is good and useful but the patterns that could be analyzed in combination with changes of habits or general mood tracking / journal keeping could be monumental in achieving goals. The data would be presented in a format that was easy to expand at a whim to see the technical details but also general enough so that it would be nice to look at. Integration with the goal achieving piece could be implementing something like the 5 minute journal alongside this data.

This top level overview offers little insight on how this would happen technically and to be frank my rudimentary understanding of C++, Python and Bash may not make this something that is feasible but the idea behind it is still interesting and ultimately worth exploring. Ideally this application would work on both Windows and GNU/Linux with Android integration planned on the mobile device side. Ideally the data would be aggregated from available open source tools and the front-end or dashboard would be the piece that would need to be developed.