Cloudflare's new speed and privacy enhancing domain name system (DNS) servers, launched on Sunday, are also part of an experiment being conducted in partnership with the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).
The experiment aims to understand how DNS can be improved in terms of performance, security, and privacy.
"We are now critically reliant on the integrity of the DNS, yet the details of the way it operates still remains largely opaque," wrote APNIC's chief scientist Geoff Huston in a blog post.
"We are aware that the DNS has been used to generate malicious denial of service attacks, and we are keen to understand if there are simple and widely deployable measures that can be taken to mitigate such attacks. The DNS relies on caching to operate efficiently and quickly, but we are still unsure as to how well caching actually performs. We are also unclear how much of the DNS is related to end user or application requirements for name resolution, and how much is related to the DNS chattering to itself."
The Cloudflare-APNIC experiment uses two IPv4 address ranges, 1.1.1/24 and 1.0.0/24, which have been reserved for research use. Cloudflare's new DNS uses two addresses within those ranges, 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.
These address ranges were originally configured as "dark traffic addresses", and some years ago APNIC partnered with Google to analyse the unsolicited traffic directed at them. There was a lot of it.
"Our initial work with it certainly showed it to be an unusually strong attractor for bad traffic. At the time we stopped doing it with Google, it was over 50 gigabits per second. Quite frankly, few folk can handle that much noise," Huston told ZDNet on Wednesday.
By putting Cloudflare's DNS on these research addresses, APNIC gets to see the noise as well as the DNS traffic -- or at least "a certain factored amount" of it -- for research purposes.
Huston emphasised that APNIC intends to protect users' privacy. "DNS is remarkably informative about what users do, if you inspect it closely, and none of us are interested in doing that," he said.
Indeed, Cloudflare's aim is to create, as the company's chief executive officer Matthew Prince put it, "the internet's fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service".
While 18.104.22.168 is meant to have been used only for research, the Cloudflare-APNIC experiment has revealed that many operational systems have been using it in a variety of dirty hacks that breach internet routing standards.