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A Dynamic DNS system built with API Gateway, Lambda & Route 53.

This repository originally supplemented the blog post: Building a Serverless Dynamic DNS System with AWS
Code and instructions for the version described in the blog can be found in the v1 folder of this repository.

The project implements a serverless dynamic DNS system using AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, Amazon Route 53 and Amazon DynamoDB.
A bash reference client is included, but the api calls for the system can be easily implemented in other languages.
The benefits and overall architecture of the system described in Building a Serverless Dynamic DNS System with AWS are still accurate.

The current project supports:

  • One step provisioning via AWS CloudFormation
  • System configuration in Amazon DynamoDB
  • ipv6 support
  • Internal ip address (rfc1918) support
  • Custom API endpoint hostname
  • Network discovery: Enables a single host on a network segment to set DNS entries for multiple other hosts on the same network.

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

Setup Guide

Deploy the CloudFormation Template:

Set the CloudFormation Stack parameters

  • Stack name - required
    All Stack resources are named using the CloudFormation Stack name you choose.
    Because of this, the Stack name must be compatible with the name restrictions of all services deployed by the stack.
    Only use lower case letters, numbers '_' and '-'

  • route53ZoneName - required
    Route53 Zone name. ie ''
    Use either existing zone or name of zone to be created by the stack.
    Zone name must not end in '.'
    If using an existing zone, route53ZoneName must match the name of the zone passed in route53ZoneId.
    For Private Hosted Zones, you must use an existing zone.

All remaining parameters can be left blank or at defaults.

  • route53ZoneId
    Populate to use an existing zone. ie 'Z1FXLQ1OABKR4O'
    The zone must exist in the same account as the stack.
    If omitted, a new Route53 DNS zone will be created.
    If supplied, the ddns system will gain IAM permissions to modify existing zone entries.

  • defaultTtl
    The default TTL for DNS records, can be overridden for individual records in DynamoDB config.

  • enableCloudFront
    CloudFront is required for ipv6 support or to use a custom API Alias (CNAME).
    Note that the Stack creation will not complete until after the CloudFront distribution is done propagating. This adds several munites to Stack creation time.
    -false - Call API Gateway directly
    -withCustomAlias - Required for ipv6 and/or apiCname
    -withoutCustomAlias - Required for ipv6

  • apiCname
    API Endpoint Custom Alias
    Required for enableCloudFront withCustomAlias
    Will create a CNAME to your API endpoint in the route53ZoneName supplied.
    i.e. entering 'ddns' for route53ZoneName '' will create the CNAME ''

  • useApiKey
    Adds an API Key to your API Gateway.
    Requests to the API without the proper key are blocked instead of passing through to Lambda.
    This prevents DOS/resource depletion attacks against your Lambda backend.
    The auto-generated key is published to the stack outputs.

  • acmCertificateArn
    Required to use a custom dns endpoint (Alias) for your API.
    Populate to use an existing ACM Certificate. (CloudFormation will not create a certificate on your behalf.)
    Full ARN of an ACM SSL Certificate:
    i.e. 'arn:aws:acm:us-east-1:123456789012:certificate/a1aaab22-11ab-ab12-cd34-12345abc0ab0'
    The certificate must be in us-east-1 (Virginia) Region.
    The certificate can either match the API endpoint custom alias. i.e. ''
    or the entire zone i.e. '*'
    See: Request a Public Certificate

  • CloudFrontPriceClass
    Leave at default unless you are accessing from outside US, Canada & Europe.
    See documentation.

  • DynamoDB Configuration
    Sets the provisioned capacity of the DynamnoDB table built by CloudFormation.
    ddbRcu & ddbWcu set the Read & Write capacity units for the DynamnoDB table.
    ddbGsiRcu & ddbGsiWcu set the Read & Write capacity units for the DynamnoDB Global Secondary Index.
    Leave at defaults for small scale deployments.
    Provisioned capacity affects both scalability and cost.

  • templateVersion
    Sometimes required to force a stack update or force Lambda-backed custom resources to run.
    The system does not actually track the version, if needed increment or simply change it to another arbitrary digit.

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

CloudFormation Stack Outputs

When Stack creation is complete you may need to look at the Outputs for information necessary to proceed with setup.

ddns Stack Outputs:

  • apiUrl
    Use this as your API endpoint
    It is a calculated output based on your Parameter choices.
    It will either reflect the API Gateway, CloudFront, or Custom Alias of the API.

  • apiOriginURL
    The API Gateway endpoint URL

  • cloudFrontURL
    The CloudFront endpoint URL

  • route53ZoneID

  • route53ZoneName

  • DNSZoneNameServers
    Name servers associated with your zone.
    If the Stack built a new Zone, use these to:
    Associate the Zone with your registered Domain,
    or delegate the zone as a subdomain.

  • apiKey
    API Key generated by the stack. Pass as argument to sample clients.
    To use in curl, pass as -H 'x-api-key: myApikeyPastedFromOutputs'

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

Configuration Guide

The system creates a DynamoDB Table for configuration named [stackName]-config.
You must create an Item (row) for each Route53 DNS entry managed by the system.
The Table is pre-populated with two example Items to duplicate and modify.
Note that some attributes are for configuration, while others (marked read-only below) reflect state information from the system.

Configuration Table Attributes

  • hostname
    The hostname of the dns record.

  • record_type
    A for ipv4 or AAAA for ipv6 records
    Note that hostname and record_type form the composite primary key for the Table.
    The combination of the two Attributes in each Item must be unique.

  • allow_internal
    Boolean to control whether the record can be set to an internal (rfc1918) address
    See Security Considerations

  • comment
    For your reference only, unused by ddns.

  • ip_address - read-only
    Reflects the last IP address set for the record by the ddns system

  • last_accessed - read-only
    Reflects the last public IP address from which the record was read or modified

  • last_checked - read-only
    Reflects the last time the record was read by the ddns system

  • last_updated - read-only
    Reflects the last time the record was modified by the ddns system

  • lock_record
    Boolean to prevent ddns from modifying the corresponding Route53 record
    The deletion/omission of an Item will also prevent Route53 record creation or modification.
    See Security Considerations

  • mac_address
    Set the mac address of the host to associate with the Route53 record
    Optional, used by Network Discovery

  • read_privilege
    Boolean to allow read access by another host
    Optional, used by Network Discovery

  • shared_secret
    Password used by client to modify Route53 record
    See Security Considerations/Authentication
    Optional: Network Discovery uses shared_secret to group records

  • ttl
    Set for (in seconds) custom Route53 record TTL.

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

Security Considerations


  • The ddns system gains permissions to modify records in the configured Route53 Zone.
    If you are concerned about allowing the system to modify an existing Zone, you can create a
    new Zone as a delegated subdomain.
    See Route53 Setup for instructions.
    Note that delegated subdomains do not work with private zones.

  • The ddns system will not modify or create a record if a matching Item is not found in DynamoDB
    or a matching matching Item is found, but it's lock_record attribute is true.

Authentication and Authorization

  • Reference for API Gateway API Keys / Usage Plans

  • When the client makes an API request to modify a record, it passes a token generated by hashing:
    -The public IP of the requesting host or network
    -The hostname to be set
    -The shared secret associated with the hostname's Item in DynamoDB
    Note that the public IP is discovered by an initial client request to the API in get mode.
    Then API then reflects the client's public IP in the JSON response.

  • The API (via Lambda) re-creates and matches the hash the IP of the request and a lookup of the
    shared_secret attribute from DynamoDB.

  • It then sets the dns record to the requestor's public ipv4 or ipv6 address.

  • When setting a private IP, the client can request that any valid ipv4 or ipv6 address be set into the record.
    If the allow_internal configuration Attribute is set to false, the system will not set arbitrary IP addresses.

Known issues

  • The system could be vulnerable to request-replay attack via a man-in-the-middle.
    As designed, it relies on the security of ssl/tls to secure transmissions.
    We are evaluating whether it makes sense to add a timestamp to the hash to mitigate this.

  • Publishing private ipv4 addresses to a public Route53 Zone leaks those addresses publicly.

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

Network Discovery

Network Discovery enables a single host to set dns entries for other hosts on the same network.
This removes the need to install a client on all hosts, and enables creation of dns entries for devices unable to run a client.

  • To enable this feature, create host groups in the DynamnoDB config table.
  • Hosts with matching shared_secret Attributes and the read_privilege set to true form a group.
  • The mac_address Attribute must also be set correctly in DynamoDB for each host in the group.
  • Any host within a group can make requests to set Route53 records on behalf of other hosts in the group.


  • The client makes an authenticated list_hosts request to the API.
  • The API returns json containing the hostname, mac_address & record_type for each host in the group.
    {"record_type": "A","hostname": "","mac_address": "51:6B:00:A6:F5:77"}]
  • The client makes an ARP (ipv4) request to find the ip address of each host by mac address.
    arp |grep 51:6B:00:A6:F5:77
    ( at 51:6B:00:A6:F5:77 [ether] on eth0
    For ipv6, the client can use ndp -an or ip -6 neigh instead of ARP (depending on OS).
  • The client then makes the API request to set other host's dns using the discovered ip addresses.
  • A reference client is included. It's a wrapper script that uses to call the actual API.
  • The reference client uses local os cache via arp, ip or ndp commands to discover and match ip addresses to mac addresses.
    Note: The host running the network-discovery may not have all hosts in its cache at any given time.
    For ipv4, you could use nmap to scan the network. This method is impractical for ipv6 considering the huge number of potential addresses.
    Network discovery will not work as implemented inside a VPC as VPC is unicast only.
    If you have feedback on the utility of network-discovery or thoughts on improvements, please let us know!
Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |

API reference

Examples of interacting with the API using curl

  • IP Address Reflector - mode=get
    curl -q --ipv4 -s
    curl -q --ipv6 -s

  • Using an API Key - required for all requests if enabled
    Replace voN8GxIEvPf with key published in your stack outputs.
    curl -q --ipv4 -s -H 'x-api-key: voN8GxIEvPf'
    curl -q --ipv6 -s -H 'x-api-key: voN8GxIEvPf' ""

  • Generating the hash token needed for all other API requests
    Note that hostname must end in a '.'
    echo -n "$myPublicIP$myHostname$mySharedSecret" | shasum -a 256

  • Set public ip - mode=set
    curl -q --ipv4 -s ""
    curl -q --ipv6 -s ""

  • Set private ip - mode=set
    curl -q -s ""
    curl -q -s ""
    Note that you can set either ipv4 or ipv6 private addresses regardless of the protocol used by curl.

  • List hosts in group for network discovery - mode=list_hosts
    curl -q -s ""

Navigate | Top | Setup | Outputs | Configuration | Security | Network Discovery | API Reference |


A Dynamic DNS system built with API Gateway, Lambda & Route 53.



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