DNs Hijacking

The internet, websites and apps have become a necessary part of our lives. With the availability of online shopping and new technologies, many businesses are now focusing on the growing online market. Nevertheless, doing business online comes with threats that you need to know.

Many small and medium enterprises have a website, but if we ask them if they know about domain name registrar, they'll probably have an empty look on their face. And that's why they're more vulnerable to issues like DNS hijacking. Many reports show that DNS hijacking and attacks are increasing rapidly.

What's a Domain Name System?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is an essential part of the internet, akin to a contact list for the digital world. Much like how your phone’s contact list stores phone numbers so you don’t have to memorize them, DNS keeps track of internet addresses so you only need to remember easy-to-read domain names like Google.com or Amazon.com.

When you type a domain name into your browser, DNS functions like a translator between the human-friendly domain names and the numeric IP addresses that computers use to identify each other on the internet. Here’s what happens: Your browser retrieves the website's corresponding IP address from DNS and uses this IP address to establish a connection and interact with the website’s server. This process is similar to looking someone up in your phone’s contact list to find their number in order to call them.

This system was developed to simplify internet usage; without DNS, we would need to remember a series of numbers for each website we want to visit. Instead, DNS allows us to use memorable domain names while it handles the conversion to IP addresses behind the scenes. These IP addresses are crucial as they are the method by which computers communicate with each other across the internet. Essentially, DNS ensures that we don't have to burden our memories with these numbers, simplifying our interaction with the digital world.

What Is DNS Hijacking?

The thing about DNS hijacking is that many people don't pay much attention to their DNS. Cybercriminals know that domain name is distinctive and is trusted protocols. Usually, businesses do not heed any attention or check it for suspicious activity.

It makes the job of cybercriminals easy by giving as they can target your Domain Name System and manage to escape without any hassle.

What Does a DNS Do?

The main job of the DNS is to convert the readable URLs into IP addresses that the computer understands. It is how users can find relevant websites as per the search queries. An IP address is given to every device with a connection to the internet.

The NDS plays a vital part in syncing the domain names with the correct IP addresses. It helps the website owners or the end-users to select memorable domain names. On the vice versa, the devices use machine numbers known as IP addresses.

For instance, you have a query, and you put any URL in your search engine as per your choice. Once you do that, your computer will send a request to the correct DNS resolver. It is another computer that looks for IP addresses that resemble your search queries.

Once it does that, the DNS resolver is responsible for interacting with high-level domain servers, finding the correct one, and then delivering the results to your device.

How Does the DNS Hijacking Take Place?

Now you might be wondering how the DNS hijacking takes place. The attackers deliberately resolve the DNS to direct you to fraudulent or hostile sites. They do it through accessing the routers, controlling the DNS communication system, or downloading malware on your device.

After successfully hijacking a particular business's website, they redirect users to fraudulent sites. These sites then convert the IP address into an illegitimate one of the attacker's malicious DNS.

DNS hijacking is not a concern for SMEs only, but it is a problem for large tech giants. Users of reputable websites such as Netflix, Paypal, and Gmail have been subject to DNS hijacking. So, why do cybercriminals hijack DNS, and what benefit do they get from it? Let's get an insight into it.

Why Is a DNS Hijacked?

Hackers continuously look for many ways to exploit and gain access to the user's personal information. It is why they resort to different ways to extract that information from the users. And DNS hijacking is one of the ways. Other ways include phishing and spyware.

But let's focus on DNS and why hijackers can target your domain name. The DNS hijacking enables the attackers to show ads to get extra revenue. In addition, they use it for harmful purposes or reroute users to a fraudulent website to get their personal information and data.

Not just hijackers, but your Internet Services providers can also utilize domain redirection to get access to users' data. Moreover, other companies can use domain hijacking to censor a particular website or reroute the users to a different website.

Types of DNS Attacks

DNS hijacking can be of different types. The attackers can deceive you and access your domain in multiple ways. Let's look at the different types of DNS hijacking.

  • Domain hijacking

The most common type of DNS hijacking is domain hijacking. This attack is when a hijacker tampers and changes your DNS services and in the domain registrar. As a result, it can reroute the traffic coming to your website to a different place.

Various factors can lead to domain hijacking. It involves issues and vulnerabilities in the DNS registrar. However, the attacker can access your DNS records to hijack your domain.

After the attacker hijacks the domain name, they can use it in multiple ways. They can use it to conduct numerous malicious actions on your site.

The hackers can create a fake page for different payment systems to take the user's bank details and credit card information. Moreover, they can also create a page similar to yours for extracting the personal information of the users and then selling their data to third-party customers.

  • Cache poisoning

Another prevalent DNS attack that many people become a subject of is cache poisoning. Another common name for cache poisoning is DNS spoofing. DNS cache spoofing is quite easy to understand. The attackers take advantage of system vulnerabilities to add malicious data to the Domain Name System resolvers’ cache.

This type of attack is common for directing the users to a different remote server. Once in place, the hijackers will now get all the organic traffic towards their servers. It will display users with different pages with the sole purpose of extracting personal data from the users.

If you are wondering how does cache poisoning works, then the answer is quite simple. Cache poisoning can occur when attackers exploit vulnerable systems and weak security protocols. Usually, hijackers send you a spam email that contains a malicious document or a link.

Once you download the attachment or open the link, it will compromise your security and open your DNS resolver cache for modification. In addition, it can redirect you to different websites to access your personal information or install any spyware, viruses, or any other harmful software to your computer.

  • DNS Hijack Attack

DNS hijacking is often mixed with DNS spoofing due to its occurrence at the local system level. However, that is not the case as both of them are different DNS attacks. The main aim of DNS spoofing (Cache poisoning) is to tamper and change your local DNS cache values.

By doing so, it takes you to a different website that is fraudulent or malicious. In the case of a DNS hijack attack, it includes malware infections by which the attacker can control the vital system operating and services. In addition, the malware in your device can modify the TCP/Internet Protocol settings.

This way, they can then link it to a malicious DNS server, through will they can redirect your users to a different website that is fake and will take consumer details to sell them to third parties.

The DNS hijack attack is one of the easiest types of DNS attacks that a hijacker can perform. It does not have too much complexity and technicalities. That is why new hijackers being their careers by using this type of DNS attack.

  • DNS Flood Attack

Another type of attack that many cybercriminals use is the DNS flood attack. It includes disrupting your DNS servers. The attacker uses this DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) to slow down the effectiveness of your servers.

In this attack, the hijackers flood your servers so they can't function properly and serve the request since the resource database is impacted by the hosted DNS zones.

However, it is easy to mitigate the attack since the source is coming up from a singular IP address. But, you might get a challenging task if it turns into a DDoS with many hosts included in it.

Although your defense mechanism can identify a few malicious requests, there will be some legal requests in between. As a result, it will confuse your defense mechanism. It will become a challenging task for the system to detect and stop any malicious requests.

  • Random Sub Domain Attack

Although not the most common DNS attack, there is a possibility that you can encounter it on a particular network now and then. The Random sub domain attacks have the same objective as the DoS attacks.

This type of attack entails the idea of sending several DNS queries against a current and legitimate domain name. But, these queries will not direct their attacks towards the main domain name. Instead, they will hit many non-existent sub domains.

The main idea behind a random sub domain attack is to build DoS to saturate the DNS server. It aims to disrupt the DNS server and its record lookups which have the domain name. This type of attack is easily undetectable. It is because the majority of the queries will be from botnets that the users have on the infected devices that will send it from their computer unbeknownst to them.

  • Phantom Domain Attack

This type of DNS attack has the same traits as a random sub domain attack. The Phantom domain attack is when cybercriminals target your DNS resolver and compel them to utilize the resources available to resolve the phantom domains.

The phantom domains don't give any response to the queries sent to them. The idea behind the Phantom domain attack is to hold the DNS resolver server for a response for a long time till it ultimately leads to a bad impact on the DNS performance.

  • Distributed Reflection Denial of Service (DRDoS)

The DRDoS or the Distributed Reflection Denial of Service is one of the trickiest DNS attacks since it involves many things. As mentioned earlier, you will see a huge influx of hosts coming at the DNS server which makes it difficult to identify the source of the attack.

The main objective of the DRDoS is to overheat the DNS network with a plethora of packets and bandwidth-consuming requests. As a result, it will damage the network's capabilities and might overburden your hardware resource.

There might be a question coming to your mind how is DDoS different from DRDoS? In a nutshell, DDoS is simply a process of disabling a target by impacting their online services with a plethora of requests. On the other hand, the DRDoS is quite complex is more effective compared to DDoS.

In a DRDoS attack, there will be multiple requests coming from the same server. However, it uses spoofing methods to tamper with the source address, which will ultimately result in all machines replying to flood the target. The DRDoS attacks are usually created by botnets, which will run on systems or services to target the users.

  • DNS tunneling

DNS tunneling is a cyber-attack that uses encoded data from the various programs within the DNS responses. The initial usage of this technique was to bypass network controls. However, currently, many hackers use it to attack hosts and to conduct remote hijacking of the DNS.

The DNS tunneling is usually conducted by gaining access to any uncompromised system. In addition, the hackers also need to have access to your DNS servers and a domain name, along with a DNS authoritative server. The procedure of it goes in the following way:

Ø A request from the DNS client goes out to the server with a specific domain name

Ø The DNS servers then respond back to that request and build a two-way connection between them

Ø After the attacker can transmit their malicious program with any response to the DNS to control it remotely

  • NXDOMAIN Attack

This type of attack comes along with the DDoS attack since it can include massive numbers of remote DNS clients coming towards your servers. These queries target non-existing programs and domains. Ultimately, it will lead to a DNS recursion because of which an NXDOMAIN will be responding.

So, if you want to save your system from these attacks, you must have a regular DNS audit. In case you don't have a regular audit, chances are remote attackers can benefit from it by conducting a series of malicious attacks against your networks.

How to Detect DNS Hijacking?

If you want to find out whether you are a victim of DNS hijacking or not, then there are a few ways to find out:

Ø Pages loading more slowly than usual

Ø More and more Pop-up ads are now showing up on your website

Ø Continues redirection to websites that are fraudulent or look suspicious

Apart from these, there are a few more ways to identify and fix DNS hijacking on your site.

  • Router Checker

A common way for your attacker to get access to your DNS setting is by infecting your router. Doing so gives them access to tamper and modify with your DNS setting.

Therefore, it is vital to check if there is any malware in your router or not. There are many online tools that you can use that can easily identify any problem with your router.

  • Ping Command

If you want to check your site for DNS hijacking quickly and efficiently, then you can use the ping command method. All you have to do is:

Ø Ping a domain that is non-existence through the ping utility directly

Ø In case the results show that the IP does not exist, it means your DNS is not a victim of any hijacking

Ø If the case is vice versa, there is a possibility that attackers are probably hijacking your DNS

DNS Hijacking Prevention

DNS hijacking is on the rise and is affecting many companies globally. So, if you are wondering, how to deal with them, here are a few ways to help you keep your website safe. We will also let you know the additional steps that an end-user and website user can take to ensure the safety of their website.

Steps to Mitigate the Impact of DNS Hijacking

There are many steps that you can take to increase the DNS security is up-to-date, and it can help you prevent your DNS servers and resolvers from any attack. Below are some steps you can take.

  • Quickly Resolve Issues and Bugs

The job of the attackers becomes easier if they find that the DNS has numerous vulnerabilities that they can exploit. The bugs and technical issues help them in carrying out different types of DNS hijacking attacks.

Therefore, you must get your IT team to check and fix any bugs that can become a potential reason for any DNS hijacking attempt.

  • Use Firewalls for your DNS Resolvers

The DNS resolvers are an integral component of your DNS. And when there is any hijacking attack, the hackers tend to add fake resolvers to deal with the legitimate ones. It is why you need to get your team to secure the legitimate resolvers using a firewall.

By doing so, the DNS will shut down any resolver that they are not familiar with. As a result, hackers won't be able to access the resolvers externally, thus keeping your DNS safe.

  • Take All Steps to Stop Cache Poisoning

Cache poisoning can be the most dangerous type of DNS hijacking that can cause you significant damage. Therefore, it is imperative for you to take relevant steps for protecting your DNS from it.

You can try using random user identities, creating more frequent query IDs, utilizing additional source ports in your DNS server. Moreover, you add upper and lower case alphabets in the DNS.

  • Independently Initiate Authoritative Name Server and Resolvers

There are high chances that if you run an authoritative name server and resolvers on the same server, it will grab the hacker's attention. Therefore, it is imperative to avoid running them on the same server since if there is a DDoS attack on either, the other will face the impact as well.

  • Avoid Zone Transfer

Hackers and attackers are after the data and the records that are present in the DNS. Hackers decisively try to gain their hands on this sensitive information by disguising it under duplicate servers (also called slave name servers).

These servers then request a zone transfer. Upon initiating the zone transfer, the cybercriminals will then copy the server's zone records. That is why you need to avoid these zone transfers to eliminate any possibility of a DNS hijacking.

  • Enhance the Restrictions on the Name Server

There is a chance that the hijacker can be someone you already know and works with within your company. Therefore, it is essential that your internal team has a security system for physical verification. You can use multi-factor authentication to mitigate the threats of a possible DNS hijacking.

How Can End-Users Mitigate the Dangers of DNS Hijacking?

One of the things you need to know about DNS hijacking is that it does not limit itself to website owners only. Hackers can also target end-users that can affect them in multiple ways. Therefore, as an end-user, you must also take some precautionary measures to save yourself from DNS hijackers.

One of the things that DNS hijackers can do is fill the end user's device with multiple ads. These can contain links to phishing websites or can install the malware in your system without your knowledge. In addition, they can remotely access your detail.

Also, chances are that they can look to steal your personal information, such as credit card details, bank account numbers, login credentials for any financial service, etc. That is why below are some steps you can take to ensure you remain safe from DNS hijacking:

Ø Keep a unique password for your router and try to change it now and then.

Ø Use cybersecurity software like Guardio, so no spyware or any other malware can enter your system.

Ø Take advantage of a reliable and trustable VPN to switch your Internet Protocol address to save yourself from any DNS hijacking.

Ø Don't connect to any open network available. Only connect to Wi-Fi networks that are safe and secure.

If your internet service provider is going through any type of DNS hijacking, then you can choose a different DNS service that blocks any attempts for DNS hijacking attacks.

How Can Website Owners Mitigate the Dangers of DNS Hijacking?

Websites are now essential for any business if they want to thrive in this digital era. Companies spend a lot of their time and money to bear the web design costs. When they finally get one, they improve their chances of getting into the public's eyes.

As a result, it can improve their brand awareness and recognition. Therefore, it is equally important to ensure that you take all the possible measures to protect your website from any phishing attacks or DNS hijacking attempts.

If you are a website owner and you don't pay attention to your managing your DNS, you are likely to fall victim to DNS hijacking. This is something that you have to do for your website on your own.

Unless, you hire a remote tech support provider taking care of this for you, you cannot identify any suspicious activities. If a cybercriminal attacks your DNS and can hijack it, they can access your communication channels and direct your organic web traffic to somewhere else.

To put it simply, you can easily compromise all your data and customer information if you don't understand the harm a DNS hijacking can do. You can suffer incremental monetary loss and incur additional damages that can hurt your customers as well.

Moreover, if your website is a subject of DNS hijacking, you will have to go through a lot of hassle and hectic to gain it back. You will have to spend too much money trying to get it back and running. It can also annoy your customers who might lose their trust in you.

So, if you want to avoid going through all of these in the first place, below are some steps your IT team can take to prevent any DNS hijacking attempts.

Benefit from a DNSSEC Domain Name Server

One of the best ways to prevent your website from any DNS hijacking attacks is by using a DNSSEC. Domain Name System Security Extensions or DNSSEC uses e-signatures and other tools to verify and check the DNS requests.

Simply put, if you use DNSSEC and incorporate it with your company's DNS register, it will give additional security and protection from any attempt of DNS hijacking. It can also be a great way to fix DNS hijacking damages. Using DNSSEC makes sure that the hackers cannot direct the organic traffic from your website to any other site, which is fraudulent.

Take Advantage of Client Lock If you want to prevent any hijackers from taking control of your DNS, then you should use client locks. It is one of the best ways to stop from anyone making any changes to your website DNS settings. By enabling the client lock on your DNS registrar, you can only set a specific IP address to make changes to your DNS settings.

Guarantee Secure Access

The more people have access to your DNS server, the higher the chances of hijacking. Therefore, it is better to give access to only a few people rather than your entire team.

By restricting the number of people in your team having accessibility to your business's DNS, it will be easy for you to track down the person responsible for the possibility of DNS hijacking.

The simple way to achieve this is through using a two-factor authentication process through which people can access the registrar of the domain name. Additionally, you can get your technical department to restrict the number of IP addresses that can reach the company's DNS settings. As a result, you can ensure the maximum possible security for your website.

Use cybersecurity software Guardio offers comprehensive cybersecurity protection that extends well beyond guarding against DNS-related threats. It actively shields you from accessing malicious websites and blocks harmful links and phishing attempts. By employing advanced algorithms and real-time threat detection,Guardio ensures that your online environment is safe, preventing malware from compromising your system and protecting your sensitive information from cybercriminals. This robust layer of security helps maintain a secure and trustworthy internet experience, allowing you to browse, shop, and interact online with confidence.

Final Word

Cyber security is now a challenge for many companies and governments. It is why we have to accept that DNS hijacking is a reality that's here to stay for some time. The issue of DNS hijacking is not something new.

Businesses in the past have to deal with problems relating to the hacking of their servers. The evolution of new methods played a vital role in keeping businesses DNS safe. However, DNS hijacking is now becoming more complex and can easily bypass any security method previously effective.

That is why it is important to know about the new technological advancements coming up. By staying on top of these new devices, you can have maximum security protection against DNS hijacking attempts.

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