12 Must-Have Tools for DNS Monitoring and Security

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Hey there! If you manage DNS infrastructure, this guide is for you. I‘ve been a network engineer for over 15 years, and in this article I‘ll share my top recommendations for DNS monitoring and security tools based on hands-on experience.

Whether you‘re running a small business website or a Fortune 500 application, DNS is crucial to your online presence. Even minor hiccups can mean angry customers and lost revenue. That‘s why proactive monitoring and protection is a must.

I‘ll walk you through 12 excellent tools to keep your DNS running smoothly and securely. I‘ll also provide some handy tips and tricks I‘ve learned along the way. Let‘s get started!

Why DNS Deserves Special Attention

Before we dive into the tools, it‘s important to understand why DNS deserves special attention compared to other network components. Here are three key reasons:

1. Direct Impact on User Experience – Slow or failed DNS resolution immediately affects access to websites and apps. Pages won‘t load and services go offline. Even delays of a few hundred milliseconds hurt user experience.

2. Central Role in Infrastructure – DNS is a fundamental directory service that touches nearly all applications and network traffic flows. Issues cascade across your environment.

3. Security Risks – Attackers often target DNS as an initial access point. Poisoning the cache can then spread malware or intercept traffic.

That‘s why advanced monitoring and protection is critical. Let‘s look at what capabilities to prioritize.

Key DNS Monitoring & Security Features

From my experience, these are the must-have features to look for:

  • Alerting – Get notified immediately for outages, record changes, etc. The faster you respond, the better.

  • Performance Monitoring – Track latency, packet loss, uptime and other key metrics. Spot problems before users complain.

  • Security Protections – Detect and block threats like DNS hijacking, spoofing, and tunneling. Stay safe!

  • Global Visibility – DNS issues often stem from external networks. Monitor internally and externally.

  • Configuration Validation – Ensure changes don‘t break connectivity or open security holes.

  • Forensics – Dig into historical logs and data to diagnose issues and understand trends.

These table stakes features provide comprehensive monitoring and protection. Now let‘s look at 12 of my favorite tools in this space.

SolarWinds® DNS Performance Monitor

Solarwinds DNS Performance Monitor dashboard

SolarWinds is one of the most respected names in network management. Their DNS Performance Monitor is purpose-built to track DNS issues.

I‘ve used it for years and it‘s helped us isolate tricky DNS-related performance problems on multiple occasions. The global monitoring and config rollback features are lifesavers.

Some key capabilities:

  • Monitor DNS from inside and outside your network
  • Alerts for failures, record changes, and latency exceeding thresholds
  • One-click rollback of incorrect DNS configuration changes
  • Detailed performance reporting for troubleshooting
  • Support for all major DNS server types and cloud providers

Pricing starts at $2,555 for up to 200 sensors. They also offer a free 30 day trial to test it out. For network pros, SolarWinds DNS Performance Monitor is a potent combination of features and usability.

DNS Security Tools

While DNS monitoring is crucial, you also need security capabilities to block threats. Here are two excellent options:

Cisco Umbrella – As a secure internet gateway, Umbrella sits between your users and the internet to filter traffic. It has deep visibility into DNS requests to identify and stop malware, phishing, and command and control.

Akamai Prolexic – Prolexic protects against DDoS attacks designed to take down your DNS infrastructure. It absorbs and scrubs attack traffic before it reaches your servers.

Both integrate with enterprise directory services to implement policies based on user, group, device, and application. This goes beyond IP-based controls. For complete protection, use Umbrella to filter traffic alongside Prolexic to mitigate volumetric attacks.

Best Practices for Implementation

Getting tools up and running quickly is key to realizing their value. Here are four tips:

1. Involve security and network teams – Make sure both groups provide input on requirements, configurations and alert handling.

2. Monitor internally and externally – Inside visibility alone misses problems at external DNS providers. Take a holistic view.

3. Validate configurations – Double check monitoring settings to confirm accuracy. Erroneous alerts waste time.

4. Automate responses where possible – Alert floods are challenging to handle manually. Automate issue triage if you can.

Following best practices avoids pitfalls and accelerates time to value.

Is It Worth Investing in DNS Monitoring?

I‘m occasionally asked whether DNS management warrants special tools and attention. In my experience, the answer is a resounding yes!

According to Cisco‘s 2022 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, 76% of organizations faced DNS-related outages over the past year. The median downtime lasted 4 hours, but for 5% it stretched over 24 hours.

With the average cost of downtime at $234,000 per hour according to Aberdeen Research, DNS-related outages result in massive losses.

For mid-size and large companies, the cost of downtime alone likely justifies investments in proactive DNS monitoring and security. Additional factors like customer satisfaction and security make the case even stronger.

Don‘t Settle for the Status Quo

I hope this overview provides a useful introduction to modern DNS management. The tools highlighted above represent leading solutions for availability, performance and security.

Don‘t settle for basic domain registrar DNS – leverage purpose-built technology to match the criticality of this infrastructure. A small time investment now pays back exponentially over time through avoided outages and peace of mind.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more about securing critical infrastructure. Stay safe out there.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.