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NS1’s Global DNS Traffic Report Reveals Public Resolvers Dominate the Internet

NS1, the leading provider of application traffic solutions, today announced the publication of its “Global DNS Traffic Report,” which reveals timely insights based on analysis of customer traffic patterns. Key findings revealed that public resolvers dominate the internet, accounting for nearly 60% of recursive DNS usage, with telecom giants representing nearly 9%.

The NS1 team used its DNS Insights solution, powered by the open source network observability tool Orb™, to analyze more than 7.5 trillion DNS queries and 15.1 trillion packets over a 90-day period in late 2022. Geographically, 42% of the traffic came from North America and 26% from Europe, with the remainder from Asia and other international locations.

“As one of the largest authoritative DNS providers on the planet, NS1 resolves a significant percentage of the internet’s total traffic, giving our team a unique vantage point for evaluating the health of networks and the technologies involved in delivering global internet traffic,” said Richard Boucher, technical product manager at NS1. “Looking at the substantial amount of data flowing through NS1’s servers, there’s a lot to be learned about how we consume online applications and which technologies deliver internet traffic.”

Who actually runs the internet?
NS1’s analysis revealed the following about traffic market share:
● Google is the clear front-runner at a little over 30%. This includes traffic from 8.8.8.8 (clearly the most popular public resolver) and Google Cloud Platform.
● Amazon Web Services comes in second at 16%. Unlike Google, AWS doesn’t run a public resolver, so this is a more direct representation of organizations that are running DNS directly from the cloud.
● Cloudflare (9.3%) ranks third on the list, followed by Akamai (5%) and Cisco’s OpenDNS (4.4%).
● Telecom giants rank low on the list, with T-Mobile (4%), AT&T (2.5%) and Comcast (2.1%) rounding out the top cohort. T-Mobile’s global footprint, as well as its position as the backbone for a fair amount of interbank traffic, likely accounts for its prominent position against the other telecom companies.

Additional Findings About Network Health and Innovation
● The declining usage of EDNS Client Subnet (ECS), a DNS extension designed to enhance performance, indicates the emergence of privacy-focused DNS over HTTPS as a standard. Only 26% of queries resolved during the 90-day period utilized the ECS extension.

● IPv6 adoption continues to lag despite clear benefits and advanced functionality over IPv4. NS1’s research shows the IPv6 network layer is only used around 30% of the time.

● DNSSEC — which protects companies from cache poisoning and other man-in-the-middle cyberattacks — remains low, with only 14% of queries hitting NS1’s infrastructure utilizing DNSSEC signing. Only 5% of queries that came in from Google’s resolver services were for a zone that had DNSSEC turned on.

● Within just a few months of approval by the Internet Engineering Task Force, the new HTTPS records — created as a solution to the “CNAME-at-apex” challenge — already account for nearly 10% of DNS queries to NS1. This surge is in part from wide-scale adoption in browsers and support from authoritative DNS providers like NS1.

DNS data is a powerful indicator of network health, resilience, and performance. From the world’s most notable brands to thousands of emerging startups, from applications to websites and online services, the requests resolved through NS1 Managed DNS — an average of more than one million queries per second — reach every corner of the connected world.