A few weeks ago, on Oct. 1, 2016, Verisign successfully doubled the size of the cryptographic key that generates Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) signatures for the internet’s DNS root zone. With this change, root zone Domain Name System (DNS) responses can be fully validated using 2048-bit RSA keys. This project involved work by numerous people within Verisign, as well as collaborations with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the root zone originally used a 1024-bit RSA key for zone signing. In recent years the internet community transitioned away from keys of this size for SSL and there has been pressure to also move away from 1024-bit RSA keys for DNSSEC. Internally, we began discussing the root Zone Signing Key (ZSK) length increase in 2014. However, another important root zone change was looming on the horizon: changing the Key Signing Key (KSK).
Layer 7 attacks are some of the most difficult attacks to mitigate because they mimic normal user behavior and are harder to identify. The application layer (per the Open Systems Interconnection model) consists of protocols that focus on process-to-process communication across an IP network and is the only layer that directly interacts with the end user. A sophisticated Layer 7 DDoS attack may target specific areas of a website, making it even more difficult to separate from normal traffic. For example, a Layer 7 DDoS attack might target a website element (e.g., company logo or page graphic) to consume resources every time it is downloaded with the intent to exhaust the server. Additionally, some attackers may use Layer 7 DDoS attacks as diversionary tactics to steal information.
A few months ago I published a blog post about Verisign’s plans to increase the strength of the Zone Signing Key (ZSK) for the root zone. I’m pleased to provide this update that we have started the process to pre-publish a 2048-bit ZSK in the root zone for the first time on Sept. 20. Following that, we will publish root zones with the larger key on Oct. 1, 2016.
To help understand how we arrived at this point, let’s take a look back.
Verisign just released its Q2 2016 DDoS Trends Report, which provides a unique view into online distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack trends from mitigations enacted on behalf of customers of Verisign DDoS Protection Services and research conducted by Verisign iDefense Security Intelligence Services.
Every industry is at risk as DDoS attacks continue to increase in frequency, consistency and complexity. Comparing year-over-year attack activity, Verisign mitigated 75 percent more attacks in Q2 2016 than in Q2 2015. The largest attack mitigated by Verisign in Q2 2016 peaked at 250+ Gbps before settling in at 200+ Gbps for almost two hours.
Verisign also observed a growing trend of low-volume application layer, or Layer 7, attacks that probe for vulnerabilities in application code and exploit HTTP/S field headers within request packets to disable applications. These attacks were frequently coupled with high-volume UDP flood attacks to distract the victim from the Layer 7 attack component, often requiring multiple and advanced filtering techniques.
Verisign is pleased to announce that we qualified for the Online Trust Alliance’s (OTA) 2016 Honor Roll for showing a commitment to best practices in security, privacy and consumer protection. This is the fourth consecutive year that Verisign has received this honor.
Verisign just released its Q1 2016 DDoS Trends Report, which provides a unique view into online distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack trends from mitigations enacted on behalf of customers of Verisign DDoS Protection Services and research conducted by Verisign iDefense Security Intelligence Services.
Every industry is at risk as DDoS attacks continue to increase in size, frequency and sophistication. The most notable observation last quarter is the increase in DDoS attack activity, which was at its highest since the inception of Verisign’s DDoS Trends Report in Q1 2014. Comparing year-over-year attack activity, Verisign mitigated 111 percent more attacks in Q1 2016 than in Q1 2015.
One of the most interesting and important changes to the internet’s domain name system (DNS) has been the introduction of the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC). These protocol extensions are designed to provide origin authentication for DNS data. In other words, when DNS data is digitally signed using DNSSEC, authenticity can be validated and any modifications detected.
A major milestone was achieved in mid-2010 when Verisign and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Commerce, successfully deployed DNSSEC for the root zone. Following that point in time, it became possible for DNS resolvers and applications to validate signed DNS records using a single root zone trust anchor.
DNSSEC works by forming a chain-of-trust between the root (i.e., the aforementioned trust anchor) and a leaf node. If every node between the root and the leaf is properly signed, the leaf data is validated. However, as is generally the case with digital (and even physical) security, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
To strengthen the chain at the top of the DNS, Verisign is working to increase the strength of the root zone’s Zone Signing Key (ZSK), which is currently 1024-bit RSA, and will sign the root zone with 2048-bit RSA keys beginning Oct. 1, 2016.
Verisign just released its Q4 2015 DDoS Trends Report, which provides a unique view into online distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack trends from mitigations enacted on behalf of customers of Verisign DDoS Protection Services and research conducted by Verisign iDefense Security Intelligence Services.
Every industry is at risk as DDoS attacks continue to increase in size, sophistication and frequency. The most notable observation last quarter is the increase in DDoS attack activity, which was at its highest since the inception of Verisign’s DDoS Trends Report in Q1 2014. Comparing year-over-year attack activity, Verisign mitigated 85 percent more attacks in Q4 2015 than in Q4 2014. Some customers were hit with persistent, repeated attacks over the quarter.
On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2015, some of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) root name servers received large amounts of anomalous traffic. Last week the root server operators published a report on the incident. In the interest of further transparency, I’d like to take this opportunity to share Verisign’s perspective, including how we identify, handle and react, as necessary, to events such as this.
One of the longstanding goals of network security design is to be able to prove that a system – any system – is secure.
Designers would like to be able to show that a system, properly implemented and operated, meets its objectives for confidentiality, integrity, availability and other attributes against the variety of threats the system may encounter.
A half century into the computing revolution, this goal remains elusive.
One reason for the shortcoming is theoretical: Computer scientists have made limited progress in proving lower bounds for the difficulty of solving the specific mathematical problems underlying most of today’s cryptography. Although those problems are widely believed to be hard, there’s no assurance that they must be so – and indeed it turns out that some of them may be quite easy to solve given the availability of a full-scale quantum computer.
Another reason is a quite practical one: Even given building blocks that offer a high level of security, designers, as well as implementers, may well put them together in unexpected ways that ultimately undermine the very goals they were supposed to achieve.