Wandering Thoughts archives

2020-03-11

Some notes on the state of DNS over HTTPS in Firefox (as of March 2020)

Recently, we decided to add the magic marker that's used to explicitly disable DNS over HTTPS to our local DNS resolvers as a precaution against various things. Being sensible people, we then attempted to verify that we'd gotten it right, by explicitly enabling DNS over HTTPS in a sysadmin's test Firefox and then trying things with and without the canary domain. This failed and left us very puzzled, and it was only through a lucky bit of happenstance that we kind of discovered what seems to be going on (although what's going on is documented if you pay attention). So here are some notes.

First and most importantly, the canary domain is ignored if you've explicitly enabled DNS over HTTPS. We found this out from a tweet by Jan Schaumann (via), who filed a Mozilla bug over this behavior. The result of the bug was to cause Mozilla to update their documentation to mention this, both here (in a bit that's easy to miss in passing) and here (where it's made more obvious). The Mozilla bug (bug #1614751) contains a way of manipulating about:config settings to pretend that Firefox enrolled you in DoH so that you can test that you properly added the canary domain to your DNS resolver, in comment #1.

(It's possible that Mozilla will someday be persuaded to disable DoH when the canary domain is present no matter what the user asked for. In the mean time, people who have explicitly turned on DoH won't be able to connect to some of the web servers that we host due to our split horizon DNS.)

To make your life more confusing when you're testing, Firefox never uses DNS over HTTPS for domains in your DNS suffix list (which can come from DHCP or be explicitly configured, for example in /etc/resolv.conf on Unix systems). This can mean that either you need to manipulate your host settings to scrub out your usual DNS suffix list or you need a split horizon hostname that is not under them. Fortunately we were able to find some eventually, which allowed us to see that Firefox was still looking them up with DoH despite the canary domain being theoretically configured.

While testing Firefox, you can look at the state of its DNS stuff in about:networking. The 'DNS' tab will show you what Firefox thinks are your DNS suffixes and what names it has recently resolved, with or without DNS over HTTPS (the 'TRR' column, which is true if DoH was used). You can also directly do address lookups with the 'DNS Lookup' tab; addresses looked up here show up in the 'DNS' tab, so you can see if they were resolved with DNS over HTTPS (if the IP address isn't a sufficient sign).

I believe that Mozilla no longer documents any specific claims about what Firefox will do to detect names and situations where DNS over HTTPS doesn't work. Empirically, using an internal top level domain (we use '.sandbox') appears to result in Firefox not using DoH for the lookup, but I don't know if this happens because Firefox knows that this TLD doesn't exist or because it does a DoH lookup, fails to find the name, and retries through the local resolver.

(I can think of ways to find out, but they require more work than I want to bother with and anyway, Mozilla is likely to change all of these behaviors over time.)

FirefoxDNSOverHTTPSNotes written at 02:03:14; Add Comment


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