What is a DNS Sinkhole?

Protecting against malicious actors using domain names for cyber attacks is an ongoing battle. One powerful tool in the arsenal of network defenders is the DNS sinkhole. This article explores a DNS sinkhole, how it works, and its role in protecting your network against cyber threats.

What is a DNS Sinkhole?

A DNS sinkhole, also known as a sinkhole server or a blackhole server, is a cybersecurity mechanism designed to divert or "sink" malicious or unwanted DNS traffic away from its intended destination. The concept behind a DNS sinkhole is relatively straightforward: it intercepts DNS queries and re-routes them to a designated, often non-existent, or controlled domain. This redirection effectively neutralizes threats and prevents them from reaching their intended targets, keeping your network safe from harm.

How DNS Sinkholes Work

DNS sinkholes operate at the Domain Name System (DNS) level, which is a critical component of the internet responsible for translating human-readable domain names (e.g., www.example.com) into IP addresses (e.g.,

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how a DNS sinkhole functions:

  • Incoming DNS Query: When a device within your network initiates a DNS query, it requests a DNS resolver or DNS server to resolve a domain name.
  • Sinkhole Redirection: A DNS sinkhole intercepts incoming DNS queries. It redirects the query to a sinkhole server when it detects a potentially malicious request based on predefined criteria or threat intelligence.
  • Sinkhole Response: The sinkhole server responds to the query with an IP address pointing to a controlled or non-existent domain. The server effectively "sinks" the malicious traffic, preventing it from reaching its intended destination.
  • Endpoint Protection: By redirecting and neutralizing malicious DNS queries, a DNS sinkhole safeguards your endpoints from various threats, such as botnets, malware command and control servers, phishing sites, and malicious domains.

Setting Up a DNS Sinkhole:

To implement a DNS sinkhole effectively, you'll need to:

  • Select Appropriate Tools: Choose a DNS sinkhole solution or software that aligns with your network's needs. Some popular options include BIND, Pi-hole, and commercial solutions like Securd.
  • Configuration: Configure the chosen DNS sinkhole to intercept DNS queries and define rules for diverting traffic based on threat intelligence or patterns.
  • Monitoring: Regularly monitor the sinkhole for suspicious traffic. If you are not using a commercial solution, Securd, you will have to update threat intelligence feeds to keep your defenses current.

DNS sinkholes offer a formidable line of defense. By intercepting and redirecting malicious DNS queries, they act as guardian for your endpoints, neutralizing known threats so they can't do additional harm. Implementing DNS-layer security like Securd with a DNS sinkhole capability would strengthen your network's defenses.