Here are the most significant DNS security vulnerabilities and exploits and provide real-life examples in chronological order.
You may have looked at the article on this site that explains the fundamental units of internet infrastructure, and been curious about how this system works, and what are it’s potential risks, past and present.
DNS Spoofing (1980s)
DNS Spoofing, also known as DNS cache poisoning, is a type of attack where a malicious actor alters the DNS records on a recursive DNS server to redirect traffic to a malicious website. This attack can be used to intercept sensitive information, such as login credentials or credit card information.
The first known example of DNS Spoofing was in the 1980s when a hacker named Markus Hess used the technique to gain access to military computers in the United States.
Kaminsky Attack (2008)
The Kaminsky Attack is a type of DNS Spoofing attack discovered by security researcher Dan Kaminsky in 2008. This attack exploits a weakness in the DNS protocol that allows an attacker to inject malicious DNS records into the cache of a recursive DNS server.
Once the malicious record is in the cache, the attacker can redirect traffic to a fake website to steal sensitive information. This attack was considered so severe that a coordinated effort was made by the security community to patch the vulnerability before it could be exploited by hackers.
DNS Tunneling (2010s)
DNS Tunneling is a technique used by hackers to bypass network security controls by using the DNS protocol to transfer data. In this technique, the attacker encodes the data they want to transfer into DNS queries or responses, which are then sent to a DNS server controlled by the attacker. Once the data is transferred, it can be decoded by the attacker.
This technique can be used to transfer sensitive information such as credit card information or login credentials. One example of a DNS tunneling attack was the Hikit malware discovered in 2016, which used DNS tunneling to communicate with the command and control server.
DNSSEC Key Management Vulnerability (2017)
DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) is a set of extensions to the DNS protocol that adds digital signatures to DNS records to prevent DNS Spoofing attacks. However, in 2017, a critical vulnerability was discovered in the key management of DNSSEC.
This vulnerability allowed an attacker to bypass the digital signature verification process and inject malicious DNS records into the cache of a recursive DNS server. This vulnerability affected many DNS servers globally, including servers used by major ISPs and government agencies.
DNSpionage is a cyber espionage campaign discovered in 2018 that targeted Middle Eastern governments and businesses. The attack used a combination of DNS Spoofing and spear-phishing to steal sensitive information. The attackers first compromised a DNS server and injected malicious DNS records to redirect traffic to a fake website. They then sent spear-phishing emails to targeted individuals in the organization, which contained a link to the fake website. Once the user entered their credentials into the fake website, the attackers could steal their login credentials and gain access to sensitive information.
In conclusion, DNS security vulnerabilities and exploits are a significant concern for internet users and organizations that rely on the internet for their operations. From DNS Spoofing to DNS Tunneling, attackers have used a variety of techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in the DNS protocol. It’s essential for organizations to stay vigilant and keep their systems up to date with the latest security patches to prevent these types of attacks.