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DNS Flag Day 2020: DNS servers must support both UDP and TCP queries

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An industry group of the world’s biggest DNS service providers has agreed on a plan to improve the state of the DNS ecosystem by forcing certain configuration changes upon the smaller server operators that are affecting the speed and performance of the entire internet.

According to this group, starting with February 1, 2020, DNS servers that can’t handle DNS queries over both UDP and TCP may be pushed out of the DNS ecosystem and stop working.

The idea is to get DNS server operators to update their server software and configurations and ensure their servers can handle DNS queries received as either UDP or TCP packets.

DNS Flag Day 2019 — first edition

This concerted industry push is part of a new event called DNS Flag Day, which had its first edition this year, on February 1, 2019.

During this first DNS Flag Day, participants pledged to roll out support for the Extensions to DNS (EDNS) protocol on their DNS servers and lock out any communications with servers that did not run DNS resolvers that were also EDNS compliant.

The event was deemed a success, according to the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) and other DNS Flag Day 2019 participants, with several major service providers updating their infrastructure, resulting in more companies running DNS resolvers that were both faster and couldn’t be abused as part of DDoS attacks.

DNS Flag Day 2020

Now, the same industry group has met again and agreed on a new DNS Flag Day program for next year, and they’ve decided on pushing the entire ecosystem towards enabling support for DNS over TCP.

Today, as dictated by internet standards, all DNS servers support receiving and answering DNS queries via UDP, but not all support DNS queries via TCP.

A 2017 statistic showed that only 3% of all DNS queries were sent via TCP, and the rest being handled via the more insecure UDP protocol.

A big hurdle in adopting DNS over TCP is that not all DNS service providers support this feature, which leads to many software makers avoid using it by default, as this could break their applications.

“Analysis of 34 million domains out of 59 TLDs makes it evident that the requirement to use TCP leads to problems for approximately 7% of domains,” Qrator Labs, a provider of DDoS mitigation services, said in a blog post on Monday.

The common method of dealing with DNS service providers or domain registrars that don’t support DNS over TCP queries has been until now to implement workarounds that translate the same DNS over TCP query into the standard UDP.

Unfortunately, DNS provider who deploy these workarounds are slowdowns, and so are the users who are making these DNS over TCP queries.

The same ol’, same ol’ providers

Qrator Labs said that the vast majority of these problems with handling domain queries via TCP are localized to Chinese domain registrars, with 72% of the total 7% DNS over TCP breakage coming out of three Chinese companies only.

DNS over TCP problems

Image: Qrator Labs

Furthermore, most of these problems were also found on the networks of the same entities that had problems with EDNS-compatible resolvers during DNS Flag Day 2019, showing that most of the DNS ecosystem is being dragged down by the same group of companies that can’t be bothered to update or properly configure their servers.

“Flag Day organizers have reached a consensus that thousands of ISPs and DNS operators which make up the DNS community should no longer pay for workarounds to benefit a couple dozen companies that are not updating their servers,” Qrator Labs said.

The main plan is to stop deploying workarounds that rewrite DNS over TCP queries starting with February 1, 2020. DNS servers that will not update their configurations until then will most likely see DNS queries remain unanswered from upstream providers/servers.

More DNS Flag Days to come

With DNS Flag Day 2019 being a resounding success, this industry group now plans to hold a similar push every year and slowly force companies to move away from old software or bad configurations.

Members of the DNS Flag Day group include the ISC, Cloudflare, Facebook, Google, Cisco, Quad9, CZ.NIC, NLnet Labs, CleanBrowsing, and PowerDNS.

A video of the meeting where DNS Flag Day 2020 was decided is available here. More details and guidance on how operators can configure servers for DNS over TCP will be published on the DNS Flag Day website in the coming months.

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Toyota lowers production goals by 15 percent for November

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The global chip shortage is impacting automakers significantly. This week, Toyota announced that it plans to cut its global production output by 15 percent in November. The reduced production is laid directly at the feet of the shortage of microprocessors needed to build modern vehicles.

Despite chopping production in November, Toyota says it is still sticking to its planned production goals for the entirety of 2021. The company has said that it plans to ramp up production in December. Toyota is the largest automaker in Japan and also builds some of its vehicles in the US.

Toyota was also forced to reduce production in September and October due to the chip shortage and other issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. For the year through March 31, Toyota reduced its production goals to 9 million vehicles representing a reduction of 300,000 units. In addition, the pandemic has significantly impacted components required to build its vehicles sourced from Malaysia and Vietnam.

Toyota says that a decline in COVID-19 infection rates in southeast Asia will allow chip manufacturers to increase output for the remainder of the year. Toyota wasn’t as impacted as some automakers by the chip shortage and pandemic because it had a stockpile of components allowing it to continue manufacturing operations.

The automaker has asked its component suppliers in southeast Asia to boost its allotment of chips and other components in December to allow it to ramp production significantly and meet its goals. Toyota spokesperson has stated that the total loss production for the automaker between September and November will be as high as 910,000 vehicles. In North America specifically, the reduced production in November will mean between 45,000 and 55,000 fewer vehicles produced.

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Porsche deliveries climb significantly despite chip shortage

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The global chip shortage impacts most automakers and has resulted in reduced shipments and production stoppages. While most automakers are seeing their deliveries decline, Porsche has seen deliveries increased by 13 percent in the first three quarters between January and September 2021. Porsche says it has delivered 217,198 vehicles around the globe.

The automaker notes that demand for its vehicles rose across all sales regions, but increased demand was particularly strong in the US. While deliveries have increased for Porsche, the automaker still says the coronavirus situation is dynamic, and it is facing challenges in procuring semiconductors. The most popular model for Porsche is the Cayenne, with deliveries of 62,451 units.

Porsche’s second most popular model was the Macan delivering 61,944 units, working out to a 12 percent increase in deliveries for that model. Its third most popular model may be a surprise to some. The electric Taycan sports car delivered 28,640 units to customers. 2021 is only the second year that model has been available, and it’s already surpassed deliveries of the iconic 911. So far, the 911 has delivered 27,972 units in the first three quarters of the year, which represents a 10 percent increase.

Porsche says the 718 Boxster and the 718 Cayman delivered 15,916 units. The four-door Porsche Panamera remains popular, delivering 20,275 units. In the US, Porsche says it delivered 51,615 vehicles in the first nine months of 2021. Those numbers represent a 30 percent increase compared to deliveries made during 2020. Across the entirety of the American continent, Porsche delivered 63,025 vehicles for a 29 percent increase compared to last year.

Interestingly, the largest single market for Porsche is China, with 69,789 vehicles delivered, representing an 11 percent gain compared to 2020. In addition, Porsche delivered 56,332 vehicles across Europe.

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AAA study finds vehicle safety systems are negatively impacted by rain

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Researchers from AAA have published a new study looking at how moderate to heavy rain affects the ability of modern vehicle safety systems to function. AAA conducted testing in a closed course environment simulating rainfall and discovered that test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking they were traveling at 35 mph collided with stopped vehicles 33 percent of the time during rain. Other vehicle safety features were also impacted during rain.

Other tested features include lane keeping assist, which allowed the vehicle to depart their lane 69 percent of the time during grade. AAA says that vehicle safety systems called advanced driver assistance systems are typically tested in ideal conditions. AAA believes testing standards need to be changed to incorporate real-world conditions that drivers would typically encounter.

Safety systems rely on cameras and sensors to visualize markings on the road, cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles. AAA’s Greg Brannon says people don’t always drive around in perfect sunny weather and test methods need to be changed to take real-world conditions into account. AAA says its research found rain had the biggest effect on vehicle safety systems.

However, they also stimulated other environmental conditions, including bug impacts and dirt. The results found that driving in simulated moderate to heavy rain impacted both safety systems. Automatic emergency braking engaged while approaching a stopped vehicle in the lane ahead at 25 mph but resulted in collision 17 percent of the time.

When speeds were increased to 35 mph, collisions occurred 33 percent of the time. Overall, during testing, lane keeping assist veered outside of lane markers 69 percent of the time. Researchers said that when testing systems with a simulated dirty window stamped with a concentration of bugs, dirt, and water, only minor differences in performance were noted. However, cameras can be influenced by a dirty windshield, and AAA says it’s important that drivers keep the windshield clean.

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