The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in
networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by
translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL
and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup, loading complex
sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries.
And because of that, DNS is a precious target and only lags behind http as
the most targeted protocol.
DDoS-ing DNS is an effective way to make the service unavailable. As the
flood of malicious DNS requests hit the infrastructure, the service can become
unresponsive if there is not enough capacity. Organizations can add more servers
or turn to their cloud-based security provider for help. One of the strategies
cloud-based security providers use to shield DNS is DNS redirection. Cloud
providers will divert incoming traffic to their own infrastructure, which is
resilient enough to detect and absorb these attacks. The success of this
strategy however depends on how well the website's original IP address can be
shielded. If the bad guy can find that IP address, then they can get around the
So is DNS redirection effective? Researchers
decided to find out.
Scientists from KU Leuven in
Belgium built a tool called CLOUDPIERCER, which automatically tries to
retrieve websites' original IP address, including the use of unprotected
subdomains. Almost 18,000 websites, protected by five different providers, were
part to the team's DNS redirection vulnerability tests. In more than 70% of the
cases, CLOUDPIERCER was able to retrieve the website's original IP address - the
precise info needed to launch a successful attack.
Researchers did share their findings with those cloud-based providers and
have made CLOUDPIERCER freely available
for organizations to test their own DNS infrastructure.
In another DNS scam, a new version of the NewPosThings
PoS (point of sale, not…) malware is using DNS rather than http/https/ftp to
extract data from infected PoS terminals. This is an interesting twist since
most security solutions monitor http/https traffic for suspicious activity.
Anti-virus doesn’t necessarily watch DNS and admins cannot simply turn off DNS
since they need it to resolve hostnames and domains. Seems like a clear
The newest version of NewPoSThings is nicknamed MULTIGRAIN
and it only targets (and infects) one specific type of PoS platform: The
multi.exe process, specific to a popular electronic draft capture software
package. If the multi.exe process is not found the malware moves on. Once
inside, the malware waits for the Track 2 credit card data and once it has the
data, it encrypts and encodes it before sending to the bad guy via a DNS
The use of DNS for data exfiltration on PoS devices is not new and shows not
only how attackers can adjust to different environments but also, that
organizations need to be more aware of their DNS traffic for potential
BIG-IP could also
help in both instances.
For the redirection issue, BIG-IP or our Silverline Managed
Service offers Proxy mode with DNS redirection. With Routed Mode, we offer
BGP to Silverline then Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) tunnels or L2VPN back
to the customer to mask the original IP address.
For the PoS malware, BIG-IP can utilize a DNS response policy zone (RPZ) as a
firewall or outbound domain filtering mechanism. An RPZ is a zone that contains
a list of known malicious Internet domains. The list includes a resource record
set (RRset) for each malicious domain and each RRset includes the names of the
malicious domain and any subdomains of the domain.
When the BIG-IP system receives a DNS query for a domain that is on the
malicious domain list of the RPZ, the system responds in one of two ways based
on your configuration. You
can configure the system to return an NXDOMAIN record that indicates that
the domain does not exist or return a response that directs the user to a walled
BIG-IP returns NXDOMAIN response to DNS query for malicious
BIG-IP forwards DNS query for malicious domain to walled
DNS is one of those technologies that is so crucial for a functioning
internet, especially for human interaction. Yet is often overlooked or seems to
only get attention when things are broken. Maybe take a gander today to make
sure your DNS infrastructure is secure, scalable and ready to answer each and
every query. Ignoring DNS can have grave consequences.