Enabling DNSSEC on AWS Route 53 using CloudFormation.

03 February 2021

At the time of writing this post, AWS has recently announced DNSSEC support for Hosted Zones in Route 53. Even though I was waiting for this feature, I had to wait a little in order to start using it because of some issues that still had to be resolved. However, by now, this domain is also running DNSSEC on Route 53. While setting this up I missed some guidance with regards to setting the whole thing up via CloudFormation, so in this post I will provide some examples to get up and running quickly!

First, let’s take a quick look at the set-up guide. Basically we need to:

  1. Set-up a KMS key that will be used to sign your Route 53 records. (You can use 1 KMS key for multiple Hosted Zones.)
  2. Enable DNSSEC on a hosted zone using that KMS key.

If we dig a little bit deeper we find there are a few gotchas with regard to the KMS key:

Okay, on to the actual examples. Please note that these examples do not take into account monitoring, and assume you deploy all CloudFormation templates using a root-account. You might need to make changes to accommodate to your particular IAM set-up.

The following CloudFormation template will deploy the required KMS key (remember, you can use one key to sign multiple Hosted Zones). Remember that this template should be deployed in us-east-1!

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: 2010-09-09
Description: DNSSEC KMS Key

    Type: AWS::KMS::Key
    DeletionPolicy: Retain
    UpdateReplacePolicy: Delete
      Description: DNSSEC KMS Key
      Enabled: true
      KeySpec: ECC_NIST_P256
      KeyUsage: SIGN_VERIFY
        Version: 2012-10-17
        Id: DNSSEC
          - Sid: AllowKeyAdministration
            Effect: Allow
                - !Sub 'arn:aws:iam::${AWS::AccountId}:root'
              - 'kms:Create*'
              - 'kms:Describe*'
              - 'kms:Enable*'
              - 'kms:List*'
              - 'kms:Put*'
              - 'kms:Update*'
              - 'kms:Revoke*'
              - 'kms:Disable*'
              - 'kms:Get*'
              - 'kms:Delete*'
              - 'kms:TagResource'
              - 'kms:UntagResource'
              - 'kms:ScheduleKeyDeletion'
              - 'kms:CancelKeyDeletion'
              - 'kms:Sign' # Important!
            Resource: '*'
          - Sid: Allow Route 53 DNSSEC Service
            Effect: Allow
              Service: dnssec-route53.amazonaws.com
              - kms:DescribeKey
              - kms:GetPublicKey
              - kms:Sign
            Resource: "*"
          - Sid: Allow Route 53 DNSSEC to CreateGrant
            Effect: Allow
              Service: dnssec-route53.amazonaws.com
              - kms:CreateGrant
            Resource: "*"
                kms:GrantIsForAWSResource: true

Take not of the KeySpec and KeyUsage attributes, which may not be familiar to you (they weren’t to me!). Also, note that both Route53 and the deployment user (the root-account in my case) need access to these three permissions:

The default AllowKeyAdministration statement (which gives permission to the root-account) does not include that last one by default, so we have to add that one as well.

Next, you can sign your existing Hosted Zone stacks by adding an AWS::Route53::KeySigningKey and an AWS::Route53::HostedZone resource as follows:

AWSTemplateFormatVersion: '2010-09-09'
Description: 'Route53 for jonathanj.nl'


    Type: AWS::Route53::HostedZone
      Name: jonathanj.nl
    DeletionPolicy: Delete

    DependsOn: HostedZoneDNSSECSigningKey # Important!
    Type: AWS::Route53::DNSSEC
      HostedZoneId: !Ref HostedZone

    Type: AWS::Route53::KeySigningKey
      HostedZoneId: !Ref HostedZone
      KeyManagementServiceArn: arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:012345678901:key/key-arn
      Name: kms_key
      Status: ACTIVE

Here we have to note that CloudFormation doesn’t natively “know” that before enabling DNSSEC signing, it has to wait for the KSK resource. So we need to force that wait using a DependsOn attribute. Furthermore, my personal Route53 stack is in eu-west-1, so I can’t pass on my KMS key ARN using an SSM parameter. If your Hosted Zone stacks are in us-east-1, you might want to add an SSM parameter to the first example and read it out in the second.

And with that, this domain now supports DNSSEC in Route53, deployed via CloudFormation. Hope that helps you!