Cyber security crimes have plagued businesses large and small for years, but criminals are increasingly using DNS spoofing as their tool of choice. To protect you and your business from cyberattacks like DNS spoofing you need to understand what DNS spoofing is and what measures you can take to protect yourself and your business from it.
What is DNS Spoofing?
DNS spoofing is a cyber-attack in which fake data is introduced into the DNS resolver’s cache, which causes the name server to return an incorrect IP address. In other words, these types of attacks exploit vulnerabilities in domain name servers and redirect traffic towards illegitimate websites.
When a recursive resolver sends a request to an authoritative name server, the resolver has no means of checking the response’s validity. The best the resolver can do is check if the response seems to come from the same IP address where the resolver sent the query in the first place. But relying on the source IP address of the response is never a good idea since the source IP address of a DNS response packet can be easily spoofed.
Security-wise, due to the faulty design of the DNS, a resolver can’t identify a fake response to one of its queries. This means cybercriminals could easily pose as the authoritative server that was originally queried by the resolver, spoofing a response that seems to come from that authoritative server.
In a nutshell, an attacker could redirect a user to a malicious site without the user noticing it. In a nutshell, DNS spoofing refers to all attacks that attempt to change the DNS records returned to the user and redirect him/her to a malicious website.
How does it work?
Attackers can use any of the three methods on their own or in tandem to orchestrate a DNS spoofing cyber attack. Attackers will have different motives for their attacks, but most of them will follow a very similar pattern in how they orchestrate their attacks.
- Gathering information. Before an attacker launches an attack, they’re going to gather information about your website and organization. They’ll look at the DNS servers, figure out the average number of requests it handles, find domain security precautions, notice vulnerabilities, and ultimately determine if there’s any way they can find a hole to launch an attack.
- Gaining access. To launch a DNS spoofing attack, the attackers need to get access to the servers or other points of entry where they can release the corrupt DNS data or intercept queries. Usually, an attacker isn’t trying to take control of the entire server but rather just finding a small hole where they can access files and queries.
- Launching the attack. Once an attacker has access and knows what to expect, they’ll launch the DNS spoofing or poisoning attack.
Why is DNS spoofing a problem?
Because users often fall victim to phishing in a DNS spoofing attack, it’s a threat to data privacy. The spoofed site depends on the attacker’s goals. For example, if an attacker wants to steal banking information, the first step is to find a popular banking site, download the code and styling files, and upload it to the malicious machine used to hijack connections.
Individuals who use the legitimate site enter the banking domain into their browsers but open the malicious website instead. Most attackers test and verify that the spoofed site is well-made, but occasionally, a few minor errors give the spoofed site away. For example, the malicious website typically has no encryption certificate installed, so the connection is cleartext. An unencrypted connection is a clear red flag that the hosted site is not a banking website. Browsers alert users that a connection is not encrypted, but many users miss or ignore the warning and enter their username and password anyway.
After the user accesses the spoofed website, any information entered into the site, including password, social security number, and private contact details are sent to the attacker. With enough stolen information, an attacker could open other accounts under the targeted victim’s name or authenticate into legitimate accounts to steal more information or money.
How to Prevent DNS Spoofing
With these risks from DNS spoofing in mind, it’s time to explore how to prevent DNS spoofing from happening in the first place. Like with all cyber security, there’s no perfect solution that can completely guarantee no attacker will breach your defense. But there are steps you can take to protect your users and drastically reduce the risk of a DNS spoofing or poisoning attack. Here are some ways to reduce the risk of DNS spoofing:
- DNS spoofing tools. There are tools designed specifically to help identify DNS spoofing attacks. Using these tools can give you the reassurance that somebody is watching for these kinds of attacks. The downside is that it can be pricier and more time-consuming to use specialized tools and services.
- Increased encryption. End-to-end encryption can make it much harder for attacks to duplicate your website TLS/SSL certificates and find holes to launch an attack. While it’s not a perfect solution, incorporating increased encryption can be used with many other preventative measures.
- Using DNSSEC. DNSSEC is a verified label that helps keep your website DNS spoofing free. It can be difficult to configure and keep all information private, so using this solution may require some professional guidance.
- Keeping TLS certificates current and updated. A lot of people forget that TLS/SSL certificates are powerful tools to help keep your website secure. Man-in-the-middle attacks are usually only possible because an attacker can strip a site of its TLS/SSL certificates. Using powerful certificate management can keep attackers from using DNS spoofing.
DNS spoofing can be extremely inconvenient for both website visitors and owners. An attacker’s primary motivation for conducting a DNS spoofing attack is either personal gain or the transmission of malware. As a result, selecting a dependable DNS hosting service that employs current security measures as a website owner is critical.
Furthermore, as a website visitor, you should “be aware of your surroundings” because if you notice any discrepancies between the website you expected to visit and the website you are currently browsing, you should immediately leave that website and try to alert the legitimate website owner.