DNS Security 101- Everything you need to know

DNS security

There are all kinds of security protocols, including DDoS dedicated server, DDoS protected VPS, DDoS protected servers, and DDoS protected hosting, to keep your projects, websites, businesses, etc. from the dangers of getting into the hands of hackers. In fact, the survival of the fittest strategy works perfectly well for everyone out there in the virtual world. You need to install the most effective security tools and measures to make sure that hackers and spammers are kept at bay.

Domain Name System (DNS) is the core of the internet. However, it is not generated through a security-by-design methodology. Especially, in today’s environment, where internet users demand and expect a stable and smooth online experience, DNS has taken the center stage and has become far more challenging than before. The rise of hackers and spammers has put DNS under tremendous pressure to come up to the expectations of internet users.

What is DNS and When did it Make Debut?

With the aim to resolve the early internet issues (ARPAnet), the Domain Name System was brought into effect in the early 1980s. The pre-DNS system used to keep names to address single-table translations on a host (HOSTS.TXT).

Paul Mockapetris proposed a dynamic and distributed system in 1983, which he named DNS. In 1986, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) made DNS one of the first Internet Standards. The arrival of DNS eased up the internet experience as it not only looked up hostnames but also offered recognizable IP addresses. It soon became essential for the Internet to function, and today’s internet couldn’t be a possibility without DNS.

To give you a clear idea about the DNS resolution process, a unique IP address is assigned to a domain every time it is sold or purchased. The unique IP address paves the way for localization of a website or domain. The process is quite complex at the back end but looks absolutely easy on the surface. When you visit a website, the system runs a DNS query. The DNS server looks up the IP address and lets your browser connect to the server that hosts the website. As mentioned above, the process is a combination of multiple steps that are performed within a few seconds.

The DNS system, which is responsible for the Internet presence of your brand, is a centralized network operated by different global companies. The DNS system involves operators of recursive name services, authoritative name services offered by managed DNS operators, top-level domain servers, and domain registrars who manage domain names and data. 

How Secure is DNS?

Generally, when you browse over the internet, you key in the web address and you get to that website. However, sometimes it is not the case. It is nothing new to this DNS world. So, we can safely say that the DNS world also has a variety of simple and sophisticated threats. Some of the leading DNS threats include but are not limited to Man-in-the-Middle-Attacks, DDoS attacks, DNS Spoofing, DNS Poisoning, etc.

The main reason why DNS doesn’t offer a secure world to the internet browsers is the fact that it was invented back in the day when security threats were not ripe. The internet was much smaller and secure in the past than what it is now. As it expanded wings, it attracted all kinds of users, including hackers and spammers. Another major reason would be its periodic infrastructure upgrades which seldom took into consideration the security factor. This is why we exist in a digital world today which is a lot more threat-prone than ever. In fact, DNS threats have put thousands of small and large enterprises as well as consumers and users in a spot of bother. Every individual and business must pay heed to DNS security to keep their integrity.

The IDC’s 2020 Global DNS Threat Report made the following revelations.

  1. a)   As many as 79% of enterprises faced DNS-based attacks and threats.
  2. b) Each company or organization was hit by 9.5 DNS attacks on average.
  3. c)   The average cost per DNS-based attack was calculated at around $924,000.
  4. d) Around 82% of the businesses had to suffer application downtime due to the DNS attacks.
  5. e) One-third of the DNS-based attacks were not dealt with automatically.

The above-mentioned statistics provide enough motivation to enterprises to make a serious intent about dealing with the online threats and attacks. Especially, when we look at the bigger picture in the backdrop of COVID-19, the threats are more than ever, complex than ever, stronger than ever, and more expensive than ever. So, if you want to protect your business’s reputation, customers, and hard-earned money, the time is now to invest in putting an extra layer of DNS security.

How to Ensure DNS Security?

Hackers are always on the lookout for fresh ways to cause disruption in a network. They commonly damage the DNS by changing the way it functions and by pouncing on the DNS servers’ weaknesses. No matter how strong or weak a DNS attack is, it always damages your organization’s reputation. You can’t afford to be in a situation where you are deprived of your precious customer data, money, and repute. It does sound like a disaster as years of your hard work goes down the drain in a matter of a few seconds.

Now, the question that arises here is “How to Achieve DNS Security”. There are many DNS threat protection or mitigation tools, like DDoS dedicated servers, DDoS protected VPS, DDoS protected servers, and DDoS protected hosting, that businesses can put into place. Some of these include email security and Business Email Compromise prevention, vulnerability management, anti-viruses, and Privileged Access Management to name a few. Every business should have a security protocol or policy and DNS security should be an essential part of the strategy.

Let’s take a detailed look at three must-have DNS security protection tools for businesses today.

  • DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC)

The Internet Engineering Task Force rolled out the first Request for Comments (RFC) in 1997 about Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC).

The DNSSEC is a set of specifications to help safeguard the DNS and secures confidential data. It is most effective against DNS nightmares like cache poisoning and helps build trust in your business. The DNSSEC servers automatically digitally sign server responses. They check digital signatures which helps them in identifying if the data came from a reliable source. The request is denied automatically if it doesn’t find the signatures matching with the one available on the DNSSEC server. The data-origin authentication also allows DNSSEC to identify and respond to Man-in-The-Middle attacks. However, they can’t prevent these attacks.

  • Keep an Eye on DNS Activity

It is quite an effective ploy against unpredictable DNS threats. This way you keep monitoring your DNS activities and logs that let you immediately identify any suspicious attempt or a malicious traffic pattern. The ability to identify inconsistent traffic patterns always keeps you under a blanket of security and your key data never get exposed easily.

  • Try DNS Filtering
    Http domain concept background, flat style Premium Vector

Filtering is always a great methodology to separate quality items from the substandard ones. The same method is used to filter traffic and is known as DNS Filtering. It stops access to dangerous web pages, IP addresses, and domains from your web projects.

It works in a simple way. The DNS server looks up the IP address of the domain you are looking to access, which then lets your browser load the website after finding out your traffic isn’t malicious or fake. The DNS resolution process and DNS filtering go hand in hand. Before the completion of the DNS resolution process, the DNS server checks every new request. When it comes across malicious attempts, the DNS filter blocks it and redirects the web browser to a web page that tells the user that the website you have requested is inaccessible.

Major DNS Security Threats

In order to better deal with the threats, you should be aware of their different types and shapes. As discussed above, the DNS was designed for a supposedly secure internet environment. However, the world isn’t that a pretty place to exist. So, with time, threats started to emerge but the DNS was not designed to equip itself against these villainous attacks. This is why DNS is still quite vulnerable to a number of DDoS and other kinds of attacks. Let’s find out which are the most common types of attacks on DNS.

DNS Hijacking

It is a deceitful way of making users click on malicious links. Generally, the hacker makes the user believe that the interaction or communication is with a legit domain. The purpose is to make users click on the malicious link, which redirects them to a malicious IP address which has been set up to steal their information.

DNS Spoofing

In this way, the hacker tries to alter the DNS records that return to the user.

DNS Cache Poisoning

This is a mass-scale activity that has the potential to affect thousands of users in a single attack. In this type of DNS attack, hackers try to gain access to the caching name servers. The goal is to control the answers stored in the DNS cache. This way, the hacker gains access to thousands of users. It is one of the most difficult attacks to detect and probe.

DDoS Attacks

The Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks attempt to exploit and exhaust the DNS resource, CPU or memory. The attacker achieves the goal by flooding a service hosting a domain with unwarranted requests. It strangulates the speed of the server, thereby causing an outage to the website. They are also known as DNS Amplification Attacks and DNS Flood Attacks.

Who Are the Targets?

Today, we exist in a world where every business needs to build and maintain an online portfolio of their services and products. Many small and large companies rely heavily on digital sources to market and sell their goods. These companies are always on top of the list of attackers. The bigger brands are even more vulnerable as they expect a bigger chunk of traffic coming to their domains or websites. Hackers use these brands’ intention to capture more traffic and send them unwanted illegitimate traffic, which is aimed at causing a disruption to their web stores and servers.

Why Use DNS Firewalls?

We have earlier discussed the three must-have DNS security protection tools for businesses. Let’s discuss another impressive way to deal with DNS attacks. As mentioned above, doing a large-scale business online has its own share or risks. However, implementing the right strategy and using the best tools can mitigate the risk to a certain degree. Moreover, security tools like DNS firewalls can provide an increased level of security to large-scale businesses. Experts believe that DNS firewalls should always be an essential part of the organization’s security policy. The absence of such an arrangement can scathe your business and its data and integrity. Moreover, it has the potential of even putting your customers’ information at risk. In such an event, customers lose trust in the brand, which is detrimental to the existence of that business.

The Cloudflare support says that the DNS firewall is designed specially as a cloud utility that filters traffic through DNS checkpoints. Generally, you reroute your website’s DNS entries to the firewall servers that check all the incoming traffic against a set of protocols. Whenever it finds a violation, it instantly blocks the attempt.

The Final Word

The Domain Name System is the fundamental structure of internet traffic, which integrates everything in the virtual world. In simple words, it is about everything that happens between a server and a user. This is the major reason why hackers and spammers are always at it with something new and more damaging. To better deal with such attacks, enterprises need to be proactive rather than reactive because before you are able to tackle these attackers, they have already vanished.

Having fast and reliable DNS responses allow your website to better cater to its visitors and turn them into your customers. Fast and reliable responses always lead to a better user experience which, according to Google, is an integral part of its policies. However, attackers and hackers expose the vulnerabilities every now and then, which is why it is always important to fortify your security with the latest available tools.

Using the DDoS dedicated server and DDoS protected hosting holds the key in your fight against the malicious online attacks. These tools continuously monitor all the incoming traffic on your website and let you block any spammy activity. In today’s world, every business should care to invest in the right DDoS protection tools to make sure that their online presence remains reliable and trustworthy for the customers.