Welcome to the new world- a world of the internet. The internet has presented us with so many opportunities. Today, almost every component of human life involves the use of the internet. Thanks to continual creativity and innovation, the quality of human life has improved a big deal. With the great opportunities that have been presented by the internet, many people around the globe have adopted it. According to the Internet World Stats on internet usage and population statistics, over 4.6 billion people across the globe rely on the internet today. This accounts for more than half of the world’s population.
With the continual use of the internet and the increase in the number of websites, the number of internet related threats have escalated to alarming levels. Websites are at a higher risk of the now numerous cyber attackers. The end results are usually devastating as websites incur huge amount of costs to repair the cyber breach. According to the 2019 IBM research report on the cost of a data breach, the cost of a data breach that businesses incur now stands at an average of $3.92 million. This is a huge figure.
Websites are usually faced with several security vulnerabilities. Some of them include Cross Site Scripting (XSS), SQL injections, malware, Ransomware, phishing attacks, DDoS attacks, and DNS cache poisoning attacks. Today, I will exclusively tackle the DNS poisoning attack threat. I will also later explain some of the measures that you can take to protect your website from this kind of attack.
DNS Poisoning Attack
Domain Name System (DNS) attack is one of the most horrible cyber security issues that can ever occur to your website. A DNS is the directory of the domain names with which an internet user can use to get into the internet resources. Usually, the Domain names are translated so as to appear in the form of an IP address. The browsers can then use these resources.
A Domain Name System is usually faced with certain vulnerabilities. Hackers and cyber attackers usually take advantage of these vulnerabilities to carry out what is referred to as a DNS attack. For instance, when a user requests to have an Internet Protocol address, a recursive query whose main purpose is to establish the identity of the Identity Protocol address will be sent. These queries are usually not encrypted in any way and, therefore, they can easily be intercepted. Attackers can then carry out DNS cache poisoning. In doing this, they will inject false pieces of information into the DNS cache. The infiltrated DNS queries will then give feedback on incorrect responses that will lead the users to wrong websites.
DNS poisoning attacks, just like any other cyber insecurity, usually come with horrible impacts. It is therefore crucially important that as a website owner, you put in place protective measures that will help you protect your website against the attack. The following are some of the measures that, as a website admin, you can take to secure the website from DNS poisoning attacks.
Measures to Protect Against DNS Poisoning Attacks
1.Set Up and Enforce Strong Password polices
Passwords are the heart of every cybersecurity. They act like a padlock that keeps all your information from being accessed by unauthorized cybercriminals. It is essential that you use strong passwords to manage your website. Similarly, you should advise all your website users to make sure that the passwords they are using have the utmost strength.
The use of weak passwords is one of the key contributors to DNS poisoning attacks. Weak passwords are those with little or completely no variations. They lack special characters such as numbers, symbols or letters. They are also short.
A strong password, on the other hand, is one that is made up of letters including both upper case and lower case letters. They are also composed of numbers and symbols. Another important feature of a strong password is its length. Ideally, a good password should be eight to ten characters in length. Such a password will make it impossible for a hacker to crack and gain access to the DNS server.
2.Make Use of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC)
The fact that DNS is never secure is one that is known to even the developers- Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). As such, the IETF organisations, which are solely responsible for the standards in the DNS protocol, are aware of the weak authentication links that are associated with the DNS protocol. The engineers have been working to find a perfect solution on the issues. The end result was the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC).
The DNSSEC plays a crucial role in improving the strength in DNS authentication. This is achieved through the use of digital signatures. The digital signatures are usually based on public key cryptography. The public key cryptography will sign both the DNS queries, the DNS responses as well as the DNS data. All these are signed by the possessor of the data. The DNSSEC hence helps in data integrity protection. It ensures that the data has not been modified in any way, in the process of it being transmitted. Adopting it is a big win for as far as protecting your website against DNS poisoning is concerned.
3.Install an SSL Certificate on the Websites
Another perfect solution to prevent DNS poisoning attack is by installing an SSL certificate on your website. You should make use of the HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to ensure that all browsers load your website on HTTPS. Doing this will help your website avoid DNS poisoning attack and a hacker who succeeds in creating a fake version of your website will not be able to acquire a trusted SSL certificate for the same domain. This means that visitors who get redirected to the fake website will get a security warning telling them that their connection is not secure. They will then shut down the connection on time before losing their vital information. SSL certificates are therefore a crucial security concern that every website admin who intends to protect a website ought to have. There are multiple SSL vendors like ClickSSL who offer some of the best SSL certificates that you should go for.
4.Choose a Secure Web Hosting Provider and A Secure Content Management System
The place to start in protecting your website from DNS poisoning attacks is choosing a secure and reliable web hosting company as well as a perfect Content Management System. You have to ensure that the hosting company that you go for has the most current and unswerving encryption levels. This is especially when you do not have what it takes to get a dedicated server. The hosting plan that you choose should also have an SSL authentication. It should also be capable of protecting against DNS leaks and hold an extensive backup and restoration plan. WordPress can be the best choice for you as long as you follow the fundamental security guidelines that are laid in place such as the multiple factor authentication.
5.Carry Out Regular Updates To Your DNS servers
Apart from choosing the right CMS and hosting provider for your security needs, you should also carry out regular updates to your DNS servers. The latest version of the server is always the best. Regardless of the server you are using, make sure that you carry out the update once it is ready and verified. The latest updates usually come with security patches and fixes that help to mitigate DNS poisoning attacks. Updates can also come with new or improved security standards such as HSTS and DNSSEC that can be of the essence in protecting against DNS attacks.
6.Audit The DNS Zones
Reviewing your DNS zones is a critical measure that can help mitigate DNS poisoning attacks. With time, the test domain names and subdomains become old and out-dated. The domain names and subdomain can then run on out-dated software that is vulnerable to DNS poisoning attacks. These can be avenues for exploitation. This is why you have to monitor all the DNS zones including the old ones. You should also monitor all records and IPs. You can use a tool to do so. The tool will help you capture and notice the possible vulnerabilities and prevent an attack before it can occur.
The final measure that we suggest is the use of a multiple step authentication for your DNS server provider. Most importantly, use the Google authenticator which has proved to be more secure.
Hackers will always try to find vulnerabilities in your Domain Name System. When they do, the impact can be so devastating and will require huge resources to repair. It is important to have measures in place to help mitigate such attacks. This article has explained what DNS poisoning attacks are and the possible measures that you can use to protect your website.