Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
4.3.3. Wildcards

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4.3.3. Wildcards

4.3.3. Wildcards

In the previous algorithm, special treatment was given to RRs with owner names starting with the label "*". Such RRs are called wildcards. Wildcard RRs can be thought of as instructions for synthesizing RRs. When the appropriate conditions are met, the name server creates RRs with an owner name equal to the query name and contents taken from the wildcard RRs.

This facility is most often used to create a zone which will be used to forward mail from the Internet to some other mail system. The general idea is that any name in that zone which is presented to server in a query will be assumed to exist, with certain properties, unless explicit evidence exists to the contrary. Note that the use of the term zone here, instead of domain, is intentional; such defaults do not propagate across zone boundaries, although a subzone may choose to achieve that appearance by setting up similar defaults.

The contents of the wildcard RRs follows the usual rules and formats for RRs. The wildcards in the zone have an owner name that controls the query names they will match. The owner name of the wildcard RRs is of the form "*.<anydomain>", where <anydomain> is any domain name. <anydomain> should not contain other * labels, and should be in the authoritative data of the zone. The wildcards potentially apply to descendants of <anydomain>, but not to <anydomain> itself. Another way to look at this is that the "*" label always matches at least one whole label and sometimes more, but always whole labels.

Wildcard RRs do not apply:

A * label appearing in a query name has no special effect, but can be used to test for wildcards in an authoritative zone; such a query is the only way to get a response containing RRs with an owner name with * in it. The result of such a query should not be cached.

Note that the contents of the wildcard RRs are not modified when used to synthesize RRs.

To illustrate the use of wildcard RRs, suppose a large company with a large, non-IP/TCP, network wanted to create a mail gateway. If the company was called X.COM, and IP/TCP capable gateway machine was called A.X.COM, the following RRs might be entered into the COM zone:

    X.COM           MX      10      A.X.COM

    *.X.COM         MX      10      A.X.COM

    A.X.COM         A
    A.X.COM         MX      10      A.X.COM

    *.A.X.COM       MX      10      A.X.COM

This would cause any MX query for any domain name ending in X.COM to return an MX RR pointing at A.X.COM. Two wildcard RRs are required since the effect of the wildcard at *.X.COM is inhibited in the A.X.COM subtree by the explicit data for A.X.COM. Note also that the explicit MX data at X.COM and A.X.COM is required, and that none of the RRs above would match a query name of XX.COM.

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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
4.3.3. Wildcards