Got recursion not available and Cisco SSL VPN

I’ve periodically been having DNS lookup issues with internal domains and isolated them to remote SSL VPN clients connecting to a Cisco ASA 5520 using the Anyconnect SSL VPN client. I eventually got frustrated and troubleshooted the issue by using the command line ‘vpn’ client to initiate a connection on a remote Ubuntu Linux machine while here in the office. nslookup would produce the error “Got recursion not available from x.x.x.x, trying next server” and dig would respond with “status: REFUSED” and “;; WARNING: recursion requested but not available”. I noticed traffic was not making it to the Windows Server 2008 DNS server by watching wireshark and enabling DNS debugging.

Having been acquired six months ago our list of internal domains increased quite a bit. I found the ‘split-dns’ setting in the default group access policy set to the old list of internal domains and set this to ‘split-dns none’. This resolved the issue. Apparently the client was comparing the query to its list of split-dns domains, and the match was failing so it was sending the resolver (operating system) an error message so it would go through the list of DNS servers until it tried the local server. Rather than trying to make a list of all the possible domain names in the company, I’m going to leave this off since the internal DNS servers have recursion enabled and can handle DNS lookups just fine for the remote clients.

1 thought on “Got recursion not available and Cisco SSL VPN

  1. codeape

    I’m having the exact same issue using the Anyconnect VPN client. Have sent IT guy this article. Hopefully it will work out. I don’t know much about the Cisco VPN server side of things, but from what I read on the net, it looks as if it is pretty hard to configure right.

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