Why a DNS Firewall is Essential for Enhancing Online Security

Businesses that choose to ignore or overlook the importance of digital security could be making a very costly mistake. From establishing a DNS firewall that will restrict access to malicious sites or unsafe downloads to ensuring that all computer systems and peripherals that may be linked to the network are utilizing the most up-to-date software, addressing the most common and potentially serious online security concerns may go a long way towards ensuring that businesses are able to reduce the risk of a data breach. Even a seemingly mundane breach can cause lasting harm to customer relationships or the brand or image of a business. Businesses and commercial organizations would do well to seek out any resources or solutions that may be needed in order to enhance their overall level of security.

Basic Steps to Improve Security

Establishing an effective DNS firewall is one of the single most important ways to protect a network. While instructing users to practice safe browsing habits or implementing a more effective password policy can also make a difference, firewalls that may be able to identify and address potential security threats automatically can ensure that an accidental oversight or a single poor decision is less likely to result in significant consequences. For businesses seeking to the means to better protect themselves from a breach, addressing the most fundamental and basic aspects of online and digital security is never an issue that should be subject to compromise.

Addressing Specific Issues or Concerns

A DNS firewall can also be of benefit for organizations that are seeking to address specific concerns. The ability to adjust or configure firewall settings can be of tremendous benefit when dealing with situations where security information may have become compromised or where businesses may have heightened concerns regarding a cyber attack or breach. The tools and resources that may be used in order to enhance short-term network security are never an asset that should be left out of reach.

Ensuring Proper Installation and Configuration

Even the most secure DNS firewall may be of little real use in the event that is it improperly setup or poorly maintained. Businesses that lack the IT expertise or know-how needed to properly install a firewall or other digital security application would do well to seek the assistance of a professional service provider. Ensuring that firewall settings and configuration options are setup properly can help to ensure that electronic files as well as financial or accountant information can be kept safe and secure. The www.bluecatnetworks.com website is a useful reference for more information.

DNS Spoofing: What It Really Means And How To Avoid it From Happening?

Via Florian F. (Flowtography)

Hackers keep finding out numerous ways to disrupt your servers. According to www.bluecatnetworks.com, DNS spoofing is one of such methods which affect your network to a large extent. You might have heard a lot about DNS spoofing and how it affects your network. Let’s see what it is all about:

It Is A Kind Of  A ‘Man In The Middle’ Attack

A type of attack where the hacker makes both the parties believe that they are communicating with each other, while none of them are doing so.

Fake DNS Information Is Presented To The Victim

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When the victim requests a DNS query, fake information is presented by the hacker, which results in visiting a site that you didn’t want to. For example, if you want to visit a site www.example.com, you would be directed to another site due to the spoofed queries.

The Attacker Responds To The DNS Request Earlier Than The Actual Response

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When a DNS query is made, the hacker and tries to respond as soon as possible, before the actual query response.

The IP Address Is Changed

You would be wondering how you are made to visit another site while querying for the original one. That is done by changing the IP Address. When the user requests a query, the IP address is changed, which makes the user visit another site.

Preventive Measures

If you are hosting a DNS server, it’s your duty to make sure that your users don’t fall in the spoofing trap. To prevent yourself from these attacks you can follow the following methods:

spoofing detection software

A software which comes with built-in mechanisms to detect spoofing attacks.

End-to-end encryption

The user is able to validate the authenticity of the server through this kind of encryption.

DNSSE

Domain Name System Security Extensions can help overcome the threat of attacks by determining data authenticity.

Security is a matter of mass concern and you can not risk it. Therefore, make sure that you don’t let the DNS attacks be a hindrance to your security.

Why DNS matters

Resources on the Internet are easily found because of a system that converts numeric addresses to manageable names. Despite its low visibility, the Dynamic Name System (DNS) makes the online world work smoothly as people around the world use it for everything from email to e-commerce.mEveryone who manages a domain has the responsibility to add their information to the global distributed database that powers the system.

In many cases, customers allow their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to manage their settings, so many business and personal internet users have little or no hands-on contact with the system. In fact, few people realize the importance of the DNS until a system outage or denial of service attack makes online resources inaccessible. Learning why the name system matters will help you make the right decisions when tasked with managing it for your organization.

Fighting spam

Mail servers use the Dynamic Name System to reject messages that come from invalid addresses. Relatively recent developments such as DomainKeys (DKIM) and the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) control outbound access to mail servers by allowing authorized users of your domain to send mail while denying access to outsiders.

Anti-phishing

A well-functioning DNS can protect internet users from phasing scams and other threats because the DNS ensures that the server names that you type into your web browser, email client and other applications take you to the correct destination. The system also supports real-time blacklists that help protect individual and business internet users from online threats.

Privacy

Your Dynamic Name System entries supply outside users with public information about your domain. The system also allows users within your organization to use a different addresses, so your organization enjoys a basic amount of privacy. Without the distinction between internal and external addresses, anyone on the internet could have a chance to access sensitive information stored on your private network.

Productivity

Enterprise networks depend on a properly configured naming system to allow business teams access to needed resources so they can be productive. Microsoft Active Directory and competing solutions complement domain name services and control access to enterprise resources, such as private clouds, while minimizing the number of requests that are routed over the public cloud.

Many servers around the world comprise the DNS, making its proper operation dependent on entities that are out of the purview of most business and individual internet users. The importance of the system is reflected by its role in making digital resources conveniently accessible while keeping users safe, private and productive. Pay careful attention to the configuration of the servers, workstations and devices that you control to make DNS work for you. If you are interested, you may do additional research at the www.bluecatnetworks.com website for more information.

Trending Features of Effective DNS Firewall

The Domain Name System (DNS) provides a starting point for connection in all your internet enabled devices. However, its security system has many holes which hackers exploit to get through. To try and close up some of these holes and ensure more secure internet connection, developers introduced the DNS firewall. Its main purpose is erection of a protective layer that prevents entry of infected devices and malicious content into the internet connection.

Remember that the size of your enterprise doesn’t matter. Hackers and criminals will always try to get unauthorized entry into your internet connection system. Usually their aim is getting their hands on your information or simply to manipulate it for their own gain and at your cost.

Developments in technology have provided better means of protection against malware. Attackers, nevertheless, are always busy trying to match it in new technological innovation with their own sophistication. Therefore, there is need for a strong DNS firewall that will not only offer the required defense but also other qualities in the quest to satisfy all the requirements of smooth and safe running of your business.

Powerful Centralized Management

Having to log into countless firewalls in order to view activity or make changes is not only tiresome and time consuming, but also costly. Therefore, you should employ a system capable of central management and allows your internet security team to act quickly in the event of signs of an attack. Additionally, it should allow automation of tasks, use of shortcuts and reusing of elements, thus enabling high efficiency with little effort.

All-time Availability

In this age of technological innovations, downtime during maintenance of networks should be a thing of the past. To ensure there is no interruption during updating and maintenance of your system, you can use active-active clustering. It allows flexibility and no-by-node upgrading without having to experience service breaks by utilizing different versions of hardware and software when conducting maintenance.

Remote Support

If your business organization is made up of branches distributed in far and apart locations, you should go for DNS firewall that allows cloud installation and configuration. In addition, anyone at the remote location should easily be able to begin the process of activating it by a single act of plugging in power while the rest of the connection activity is handled remotely. This results into a great saving on time and costs that would have been incurred during travelling. The firewall should also offer automation options for remote locations as well as the ability for centralized remote operations.

Bottom Line

Various other requirements for an efficient DNS firewall might seem obvious but they are of utmost importance. These include Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capabilities that allow thorough inspection of every packet with the aim of picking out the malformed ones as well as detecting attacks, errors and other forms of malware. With the current sophistication of internet attacks, the firewall should also provide protection against Advanced Evasion Techniques (AET) by getting rid of any complication that may prevent thorough examination of traffic across various layers and protocols.

Maximizing on Your DNS Security

The basic role of DNS security is to protect your website. The majority of DNS cache servers are by design secured at layer 7, the application layer, through incorporating access lists. These effectively ignore queries coming from sources not explicitly allowed. An attacker may decide to use cache poisoning with two objectives: to masquerade as a trusted/reliable entity and the other is denial of service (DoS).

Preventing DNS Cache Pollution

A problem that is becoming very common is DNS cache pollution. An attacker takes advantage of this by using a rogue name server and then intentionally formulating information that is misleading, either as a helpful hint or an answer. This then gets cached by your unsuspecting DNS server.

The majority of DNS servers can be easily configured for preventing cache pollution. For example, DNS server on Windows Server 2003 has been configured by default server to prevent cache pollution. The problem, however, is if your DNS server cache is already “polluted” with lots of bogus DNS entries. If you’re using an older version, you can configure your DNS security to prevent cache pollution through the Advanced Tab.

Managing Client Flooding

Client flooding takes place when the system of a client sends out a genuine query, but ends up receiving and accepting DNS responses in thousands coming from the attacker. The success of the attacker is typically due lack of responses authentication. Without a strong authentication system, the client lacks the ability of verifying the response origin. The newest Bind and Unbound DNS server versions come with a configuration option that limits the queries rate.

Using Firewalls to Control Access

Firewalls may be utilized in gaining access control over who is able to connect with your DNS servers. DNS servers only being used for internal client queries, the firewalls may be configured to block connections coming from all external hosts.

DNS servers being employed as caching-only forwarders, the firewalls can be configured to allow DNS queries coming from those servers that only utilize caching-only forwarders. A particularly critical firewall policy setting is blocking internal users from utilizing the DNS protocol in connecting to all external DNS servers.

Bottom Line

Insecure core protocols, lack of integrity, and authentication checking of the DNS information can compromise the optimal DNS functionality. Besides the above DNS security controls, others that can be deployed include limiting connectivity to servers from the layer 3 levels (outside world), and integrating layer 2-7 (IDS/IPS inline) protection.

However, it is important to point out that these controls come with limited ability in terms of protecting DNS interfaces that in are generally open to the world. This is because technically savvy users could use Dynamic DNS along with SSH tunnelling or OpenVPN to gain access to your restricted content, effectively bypassing your own network security controls. You can learn more by visiting BlueCat.

Latest Defensive Practices against DNS Security Threats

In less than five years, more than 30 billion devices will be connected to the internet. Therefore, there will be more work for the Domain Name System (DNS). Unfortunately the number of threats to dns security is rising with every additional connection of devices to the internet, giving hackers a field day. Thus, businesses and innovative enterprises have to work round the clock in search for new ways of protection.

Up-to-date Software

While there is continuous development of new means of protection against DNS attacks, hackers are also working hard in coming up with new ways of demolishing them. Remember, there is no way of annihilating all DNS attacks. You can, however, beat them by using the latest versions of protective software.

Authoritative and Recursive Servers

One of the ways hackers may use to compromise your dns security is blocking your access to an internet service. Usually, they do this by filling the website you are keen on visiting with so many queries that the traffic volumes become too high for you to access it. In addition, hackers may create malware in a computer with the aim of spreading it to all other computers in the same network.

Authoritative servers only respond to queries they are sure of and enable the disabling of recursive. To boost security, you can always include another DNS server with separate authoritative and recursive features but within one appliance with the other one. Additionally, efficiency and reliability of the DNS services is greatly improved.

Hybrid DNS

Vulnerability in the software of your DNS server may be easily overlooked, leaving a loophole for attackers to exploit in an attempt to compromise it. The best way to protect yourself against such an unexpected attack is running different algorithm types on different DNS engines, thus confusing the attackers. In the event that the dns security system gives a new security alert, you can temporarily move to an alternative engine. Meanwhile, security upgrades on the original engine can be patched, tested and validated. In addition, it would be hard for attackers to know which software is in operation.

Firewall Protection

The basic means of putting up a guard against malware is installation of a DNS firewall. It prevents diversion of your workstation to suspect sites. In addition, the firewall prevents spreading of infectious malware by putting the infected user in Walled Garden isolation. Therefore, the administrator will receive notification whenever a user is infected and take the necessary action.

The rise of internet use in cloud solutions, mobile and billions of other devices connected to the internet presents a good opportunity for DNS attackers to engage in their trade. To be safe, therefore, you must always be ahead of the game by being on the lookout for up-to-date dns security strategies.

IETF Advises Cookies for Enhanced DNS Security

The Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF is a structured pursuit of the Internet Society or ISOC, which is a non-profit organization. The core mission of the IETF is to produce technical documents that can help organizations and individuals design, manage and use the Internet more effectively. A recent IETF publication advises that developers can enhance DNS security against denial-of-service exploits by adding cookies, those same files used to track user sessions on the Web.

Fundamental Issues with DNS

The domain name system or DNS is a fundamental yet old and arguably outmoded aspect of the foundation of the Internet. Its most basic and essential function is to translate between IP addresses and addresses that humans can read and remember easily. dns security is a substantial and increasing security concern because DNS is often manipulated as traffic amplifiers in DoS attacks.

Introducing RFC 7873

In RFC 7873, which was put forth by IETF participants Donald Eastlake and Mark Andrews, the authors explore the idea that these amplification attacks could be mitigated and thus DNS security enhanced via cookie deployment. The document defines a cookie as being a lightweight mechanism for security transactions, which could provide limited but useful and efficient protection against amplification, forgery, cache poisoning and other DNS security concerns.

How Cookies Would Work

Such cookies could not be used to track users since they’d only be returnable to the originating address, and the added protection would come via the fact that attackers would need to guess the 64-bit value of the cookie, which would be nigh impossible given the time limitations. Client cookies would be created by using the server IP address, the client IP address and a randomized value known only to the client. Server cookies would be similar, but the secret value would be known only to the server.

Practical Applications

The document also provides a number of practical illustrations of how these cookies can enhance DNS security in real-world scenarios, such as:

• Server DoS — A cookie would make it easy to identify fake requests. This would not eliminate the impact, but it would mitigate it greatly by avoiding unnecessary cryptographic mechanisms, recursive queries and other resource-intensive operations.

• DNS Amplification — Amplification attacks are successful because of heightened traffic, but cookies would make it difficult for attackers to achieve much more than limited error responses. That wouldn’t be very useful to them and would theoretically eliminate amplification as a security risk.

• Forged addresses — Basic DoS attacks employ forged client addresses. Cookies won’t help thwart such attacks, but they would make it much easier to identify legitimate communication. That’s half the battle since resources can be allocated to the appropriate clients more easily.

Understanding the DNS Domain Namespace

DNS

Domain Name System (DNS) is basically an Internet related phenomenon that transforms domain names into IP number addresses. The Internet, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, a DNS application immediately translates the nomenclature into the matching IP. For example, the domain name www.example.com might translate to 170.210.282.9.Because domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember.

It is a fun fact that you have come across the DNS system as you surfed the web, without even realizing it.  As is the case with everything on the web, the DNS is nothing but a set of rules, or protocols in the nerd lingo that standardizes the exchange of data and signals over the internet including private and public networks known as the TCP/IP set of rules. Its basic job is to act as a GPS for the computer internet system identifying each entity with a unique DNS that can be read to represent an IP address, hence deciding the identity of the system involved.

Now, as you can imagine, it is a great hassle to have a phonebook kind of database for the zillions of IP addresses around and virtually impossible to remember and implement functions using such addresses. Hence, a DNS is used which manages the huge mapping of the network and enables a user to connect to other entities over the web. Without DNS servers, the whole web paraphernalia would be down quickly making the world digitally paralyzed.

But how can a computer decide or even decipher what DNS server is to be used? Here your ISP (Internet Service Provider) comes into play and through your Wi-Fi or router modem, send some important configuration settings to your computing device. It is in a series of steps that the computer deciphers how to transport you to a website:

  1. First it initiates a DNS query with regards to the hostname or URL that you have put in, provided the same is not available in the local DNS cache.
  2. The DNS servers of your ISP would do the necessary toiling to find the query and if found, the information is returned to the user.
  3. After this, if the information is not found, the recursive DNS servers would be engaged.
  4. If the same is not found even there, then root name servers will be brought in. A root name server is essentially a system built to answer queries about the domain names and IP addresses. It would perform the basic function of a telephone switchboard in this process of translating the DNS into IP.
  5. Next, the TLD name servers or the authoritative DNS servers would be tasked to find the query and the DNS record would be found and this signal intimated.
  6. Finally, the required record (which has a limited time-to-live value, requiring a new copy after said time expires) would be found amidst a whole array of different types of records and the retrieved answer would be sent back to the system where the query had originally been initialized.

What is sure to amaze you is that this entire bureaucracy of queries and server searches take only about a few milliseconds to execute. The DNS system is a network of its own, and if one node does not know the answer, another is sure to be engaged. Overall, however complicated it might sound, it is really just a cog in the wheel to make it easier to obtain and understand information.

Why DNS Protection is an Absolute Necessity?

DNS (Domain Name System) is one of the most fundamental things which constitute the whole operations of internet. In simple words, Domain Name System is used each and every time an individual visits a website, initiates an e-mail, receives and e-main or chat with friends over internet messaging services. In shorts, no matter whatever you do over internet, DNS pays a vital role from the initiation of the action, to the execution of the action, to the ultimate completion.

Before I start on why DNS protection is necessary, let me give you an idea on what could happen if the DNS is not protected. Back in 2008, Dan Kaminsky discovered a very serious loophole in DNS system. With this DNS vulnerability, any hacker can redirect a network query to the servers of his choice.
This discovery of Dan Kaminsky led to the concept of DNS Cache Poisoning.

What is Cache Poisoning?
Assuming an attacker has complete knowledge of how DNS works, Cache poisioning can be a piece of cake for the attacker. In this, the attacked somehow figures out how to infuse sham information into a nameserver’s cache.

This infusion then leads to the infection of local client’s devices that are clueless about this whole attack. When the devices of local clients get infected, the nameserver treats the bogus packet of information as a genuine one and hence, the DNS breaks down while leaking all the personal and private data to the attacker.

Do not get Cache Poisoning confused as traditional Phishing attacks.

How Cache Poisoning is different from traditional Phishing techniques?
It is true that the target result of both the cache poisoning and phishing is the same thing: Making the person unsuspected about the bogus site and treat it as the real URL but they are not the same.
In Phishing, a similar looking webpage is developed by notorious attackers with HTML and CSS skills to fool the user. In this technique, no technical knowledge of DNS functionality is required. Also, if the end user is a bit skilled in coding, he can easily identify the phishing attack just by merely comparing the HTML source codes of real and duplicate pages.

Whereas, in DNS Cache Poisoning, the infrastructure of DNS gets compromised. It takes the advantage of the natural fundamental working capability of DNS. In this, the attacker re-routs the real hostnames to the attacker’s servers. Also, this technique requires professional knowledge of DNS infrastructure and the attack cannot be identified by comparing any kind of source codes.

Why DNS Protection is Necessary?
By now, you must have known how venerable DNS is. Now let me tell you why DNS protection is an absolute necessity.
The whole networking communication of any corporate office revolves around the DNS infrastructure. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if a competitor wants to take your server down.
What will be their first and foremost approach?
To take down the most venerable part of your system.
That is an unprotected DNS for you! If you don’t want the attacker to take your server down with your private and personal information, get a DNS protection system now!