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How to setup DNSSEC with Knot for your domain

A step by step tutorial on how enable DNSSEC for your domain with the Knot DNS server version 2.8.0 released last week on 2019-03-05.

I am going to assume you:

  • Have control over a second level domain like
  • Have a registrar that supports DNSSEC, see the last step to check this.
  • Have a machine to run Knot on, can be a virtual machine (search for VPS and your country)
    • Pick a name for your machine eg.
    • Public and static IPs
      • For IPv4 this means any IP outside of RFC 1918
      • For IPv6 this means any IP starting with 2001::/16
    • Configure your assigned IPs and make sure that port 53 UDP and TCP are reachable and no firewall is blocking traffic
  • Have the latest Debian 9 stable installed on that machine
  • If you plan to run Knot remotely:
    • OpenSSH configured on the server
    • and the openssh-client on your machine
  • Know how to become root (eg. with sudo)
  • Have access to the Knot DNS Manual

For simplicity I use as the example in the whole article.

Configure your machine as name server (Glue records)

Write an email or open a support ticket at your registrar to supply your machine as name server.

Request that they register your machine with your addresses eg. 2a0a:51c0::61 and

Note this manual process usually takes some time sometimes a business day.

Configure the public IPs

Debian Network Configuration on servers is usually done with /etc/network/interfaces.

For other distributions you best search the internet.

Install Knot

Add the source of the Knot software to by creating this file /etc/apt/sources.list.d/knot.list with that content:

deb stretch main

Then save the certificate to the system:

curl > /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/knot-latest.gpg

And install the dependencies and the package:

apt install apt-transport-https
apt update && apt upgrade
apt install knot

Configure Knot to load the zone

Create the file /etc/knot/knot.conf with the following contents:

# This is a sample of a minimal configuration file for Knot DNS.
# For more details, see man 5 knot.conf or refer to the server documentation.

    # Listen on all configured IPv4 interfaces.
    # Listen on all configured IPv6 interfaces.
    listen: ::@53
    # User for running the server.
    user: knot:knot
    rundir: "/run/knot"

  - id: default
    rate-limit: 200   # Allow 200 resp/s for each flow
    slip: 2           # Every other response slips

    # Log info and more serious events to syslog.
  - target: syslog
    any: info

  - id: rsa2k
    algorithm: RSASHA256
    ksk-size: 4096
    zsk-size: 2048
    nsec3: on
  - id: ececc
    algorithm: ecdsap384sha384
    nsec3: on

  - id: default
    storage: "/var/lib/knot"
    dnssec-signing: on
    dnssec-policy: rsa2k
    global-module: mod-rrl/default   # Enable RRL globally

    # Master zone.
  - domain:
    file: "/etc/knot/"

    # Some other zone
  - domain:
    file: "/etc/knot/"

The rate-limit is to prevent your DNS server from being misused in an DNS amplification attack.

Note your server is in the role of the primary resolver. That means most of your legitimate users will use their ISP's DNS as an intermediate and

Configure your zone

To configure DNS you must supply the DNS server Knot with a zone file. So for example the start of my zone currently looks like this:              86400   SOA 2019020203 14400 600 2419200 600              86400   NS              86400   NS              86400   AAAA    2a0a:51c0::61              86400   A

The SOA line describes the following fields:

  1. primary name server
  2. email of the zone administrator
  3. serial with the last updated date encoded plus a two digit counter, increase with every edit
  4. refresh every 14400 seconds
  5. retry every 600 seconds
  6. expire after 2419200 seconds
  7. minimum delay retry for 600 seconds for negative results

Note that the Knot daemon will change this file and extend it with the hashes and NSEC3 records.

Get you DNSKEY id 257

After you reloaded the Knot service with this command:

sudo systemctl reload knot

You can get the public part of your zone file with this command:

sudo keymgr dnskey

If you need the DS form of the key run run this command:

sudo keymgr ds

Publish on your registrar

After logging in to the control panel of your registrar, search for the DNS configuration option of your domain.

Step one

Then to enter your new KSK-Hash paste all currently valid entries in the form.

Step two

I use a special setup with two chains, so I have to enter two KSK hashes.

Test the publication with

The tool is a very popular graphical tool.

To check the configuration of we can use this link:

If everything worked, you should see your chain terminate like the left part in this picture: secured with DNSSEC

Test the publication by hand

Compare the output of the DS generated by the Knot DNS server with this command:

sudo keymgr ds

Search for the last three parts of the output with the output of the kdig command from the knot-dnsutils or the dig command from the dnsutils package.

kdig ANY +dnssec

Important if you are using the dig you must remove the space seperating the last 8 characters like this:

8 2 28521FE33926668A3D12B6212DA003226CAAD44430D6355F990BAAAD 8EAB2B3E
X Y >------------------------ remove space here ------------^

Notice that the server responsible for the .ch domains is If your second level domain does not belong to .ch you need to lookup the primary primary server.

What if my registrar does not support DNSSEC?

First you should ask the support team of your provider. Maybe their interface is hidden or even via email.

Sadly some companies like metanet to this day do not support DNSSEC and your only option is to transfer the domain to another registrar like cyon or hosttech.

Switch just broke my setup with CDS (Child DS)

Switch has enabled the new feature CDS (Child DS). The goal was to simplify DNSSec provisioning, but it breaks existing setups with two independent ksk-chains.

You can test your domain with their new tool.

I need more help

Zeroth, test your setup with tools like dnsviz or MX Toolbox.

First, ask a friend or two. DNS is an old topic, so it has grown over time and sometimes the complexity is no longer obvious to people who did work those problems for a long time.

Second, read more documentation or reach out to strangers. If you ask nicely and lead with the work you already invested people tend to help you on the internet.