NetworkSecurity

What Is DNS Security

This world has shifted online, and the online system has provided us with all the facilities at our fingertips. With the increasing technological advancements, you can now order your favorite food, pay bills, and even place calls to your loved ones around the globe while sitting in the comfort of your home.

However, with the increasing technological advances, there has also been an increase in the number of cyber crimes committed. Therefore, keeping up with the best way to protect your business from cybercriminals is best.

What Is DNS? What Is DNS Security?

DNS stands for domain name systems. Each website has its domain name, with the help of which a user can search for them online. The computers use IP addresses or internet protocol addresses to guide users to the website they want to visit. This keeps the system flowing effortlessly without any complications.

Each device has a different IP address, a unique combination of numbers. You can access other websites with unique numbers, i.e., their IP address. But it is difficult to remember the different IP addresses for the different sites. Therefore, each IP address is linked to an English and simpler domain name hence a domain name system. A domain name is much easier to remember compared to an IP address.

Therefore, a domain name is critical for any site and is widely used worldwide. This type of traffic is also let go through any security checks or firewalls on any website. However, cybercriminals use this information to their advantage and attack domain name security.

DNS tunneling keeps users worldwide connected to several websites and businesses. But, initially, when the complex web of DNS  was made, there weren’t many prevailing issues. In the past, the online web was much more secure; therefore, there wasn’t much information regarding DNS security.

Now, in this digital era, there is a need for smooth, reliable, safe, and fast connectivity through the DNS server. Due to this, it is important to ensure that the domain server is safe from any DNS tunneling attacks.

Why Is DNS Security Important?

DNS security is important to keep a website safe from any possible attack and let it work smoothly without any hindrance. Furthermore, DNS attacks often go hand in hand with other cyber attacks (such as distributed denial of service attacks) to distract the affected computer. While the affected user is busy solving the attack on the authoritative DNS server, another cyber attack can be launched to steal, cause harm, or corrupt the server. Therefore, preventing any other forms of attack will be easier if DNS security is prominent.

There are several ways in which cybercriminals make use of DNS-based attacks, some common attacks involving DNS are;

DNS Hijacking

In DNS hijacking, the attacker can essentially hijack the site’s domain. As a result, when a user directs any queries to the site, it reaches a different server with a different domain name instead of reaching the site.

It is done by attacking the DNS records of a site. A DNS record is where all the information regarding a site is stored, for example, the IP address, how the domain handles different requests, and how to refresh the server when needed.

DNS Spoofing

DNS spoofing is similar to DNS hijacking; the only difference is that instead of attacking the records of the DNS servers, the attacker poisons the site’s cache in the DNS infrastructure. The cache of a site can be spoofed or poisoned using malware.

As a result, all the traffic coming to the site will be directed to a different IP address (somewhere the attacker wishes the traffic to be directed). Often this fake IP address is a replica of the original website where the malware can be installed into the devices of the users being directed or even their information stolen.

NXDOMAIN Attacks

This is one of the examples of a DNS flood attack, which often resembles a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. In this, the attacker floods the site with malicious traffic and DNS queries for records that do not exist in the domain’s data. This can generate a lot of fake traffic for the site, like in a DDoS attack, and overwhelm the site.

The use makes an NXDOMAIN attack of many tools to ensure that the different requests come from different servers. This can overload the server’s cache with junk, overwhelm the site, cause it to crash, and make it difficult for a genuine user to access the site.

Phantom Domain Attacks

A phantom domain attack, like an NXDOMAIN attack, can lead to a denial of service response. In this cyber domain attack, the cyber criminal sets up many phantom domains that give delayed or slow DNS responses. As a result, there can be an accumulation of requests waiting for a response resulting in a denial of service.

Botnet-based CPE Attacks

A bot is a compromised computer usually affected by a different kind of computer virus (such as a trojan horse), making it a zombie to the attacker’s demands. A’ botnet’ is formed when a zombie computer network is made.

In this case, this botnet is made by the computer compromised by their CPE (customer premise equipment- the equipment given by service providers to their customers). Cybercriminals can attack and make a bot of this CPE. As a result, this botnet can be commanded to make several attacks on a domain or a site and disturb it.

Random Subdomain Attacks

A random subdomain attack may be a bit more powerful and can even affect a domain’s ISP (internet service provider). In this case, the cyber attacker will randomly send the DNS requests to the domain for information that does not exist in the data.

This can result in a denial of service for the authoritative nameserver. A nameserver is an information connector; it translates IP addresses into domain names and other numerical information into simple, easy-to-read information.

As a result, it becomes difficult for the nameserver to work properly and can even affect the internet service provider or ISP by loading their cache with junk requests.

How Is DNS Security Used?

Due to the increasing number of cyber attacks on the DNS servers, a DNS security solution was needed to provide secure DNS servers. In the 1990s, Domain Name System Security Extension, or DNSSEC, was introduced to encourage the use of secure DNS.

As DNS traditionally does not have any security protocols, DNSSEC is a DNS security extension that ensures that any request coming to the site is from a valid user and a genuine request. If that is not the case, then the request is rejected.

It is important to note that a DNSSEC can deny these invalid requests and find the origin of these requests ( with data origin authentication), but it cannot prevent any such attacks. Therefore, it may help keep Secure DNS servers but shouldn’t be used by itself.

Other forms of DNS server security include;

DNS Filtering

Often referred to as DNS blocking, DNS filtering is an effective way in which organizations can filter out malicious or unapproved websites and block their access. So their users (employees) cannot be directed to these malicious sites. As a result, the DNS servers remain protected from undetected cyber attacks.

DNS Protocol Enhancement

The DNS protocol enhancement is further from the basic domain name system security extension, which helps provide a secure DNS. While DNSSEC provides great security, it is best not to rely only on it. So the DNS protocol enhancement includes DNS over HTTPS or DoH.

DoH encrypts all the data and requests from any server to the DNS system. This can then ensure that there are no threats in it and that there are no artificial attacks possible.

The second DNS protocol enhancement is DNS over TCP. This type of DNS security allows DNS servers to communicate before any connection is made. Like when a user goes to a website first, the communication is made before being connected.

This allows the DNS security protocol to ensure that the request is from a safe and secure server before making a connection as a preventive measure against any possible attacks.

DNS Activity Monitoring

This way of security allows you to monitor the DNS data, the DNS requests and DNS queries being made to the server, and the amount of traffic received by the server. The DNS server can be made secure by monitoring all the important information.

For instance, if an unusual amount of requests and queries are being made, this can indicate a DNS attack. Furthermore, an increase in traffic that is not usual for the site can be a red flag for an attack. So it can be an effective way to provide a secure DNS.

Conclusion

DNS servers are of great importance in the world of computers and the internet and, therefore, should be protected from cyber-attacks.

Monitoring DNS servers regularly can be a great way to prevent any possible attacks. These regular checks can lead to suspicious activities that one can fight against.

In addition, one can use software to fight against different attacks. Learning about the threats and preventive measures is important to maintain the safety of a DNS server.

Derik Belair

As President and CEO, Derik leads the vision, strategy and growth of Augmentt. Prior to founding Augmentt, Derik was the Vice President at SolarWinds, leading the digital marketing strategy for SolarWinds’ Cloud division. Derik has been working in the channel for over 20 years, starting his career as a channel sales rep at Corel Corp. and eventually becoming the first employee at N-able Technologies in April of 2000.

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