The Domain Name System (DNS), if not properly secured, may be susceptible to abuse by malicious actors. Cybercriminals recognize the value of DNS availability and look for ways to compromise DNS uptime and the DNS servers that support it. As such, DNS becomes an important point of security enforcement and a potential point in the Cyber Kill Chain®1 for many cyber-attacks.
This blog discusses one such threat, DNS reflection and amplification attacks.
To establish connectivity with other users and devices, almost anything that interfaces with the internet depends on the accuracy, integrity and availability of the Domain Name System (DNS). Most online transactions and data movement are critically dependent on DNS services.
As such, DNS is an important point of security enforcement and a potential point in the Cyber Kill Chain for many cyber-attacks. Organizations are beginning to recognize this and are using DNS security mechanisms as a first line of defense for preventing or mitigating online threats.
Security professionals agree that a strong security posture is one that is implemented in a layered approach. This layered approach is also referred to as “defense-in-depth.” A defense-in-depth strategy consists of applying security mechanisms across your organization to ensure sufficient coverage against the wide variety of cyber threats.
A comprehensive defense-in-depth strategy requires security mechanisms to be applied through the implementation of hardware, software and security policies. Hardware protection includes, but is not limited to, the implementation of next generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion prevention systems/intrusion detection systems (IPS/IDS) and secure Web gateways (SWG). Software-based protection is done through anti-virus software deployments, automated patch management or tools for Internet monitoring. Finally, no defense-in-depth strategy would be complete without the implementation of strong security policies that prescribe processes for incident reporting, service and system audits, and security awareness training.
Cybersecurity is no longer a concern for just IT and security professionals. Recent breaches at organizations like Sony, Target, JP Morgan Chase, and numerous U.S. government entities have brought the issue of cyber-attacks very close to home. If you bank online, use your debit card at a local store or engage in any activity that relies on an Internet-connected system, you are at risk.
As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), Verisign is joining with organizations and companies around the country to promote online safety and champion a safer, more secure and trusted Internet. Every week in October, we’ll share research and online safety tips from our resident cybersecurity experts via our blog and LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter posts.
At Verisign we take our Internet stewardship mission very seriously, so when details emerged over the past week concerning the XcodeGhost infection, researchers at Verisign iDefense wanted to help advance community research efforts related to the XcodeGhost issue, and leveraging our unique capabilities, offer a level of public service to help readers determine their current and historical level of exposure to the infection.
First identified in recent days on the Chinese microblog site Sina Weibo, XcodeGhost is an infection of Xcode, the framework developers use to create apps for Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems. Most developers download secure Xcode from Apple. However, some acquire unofficial versions from sites with faster download speeds.
Apps created with XcodeGhost contain instructions, unknown to both the app developers and the end users, that collect potentially sensitive information from the user’s device and send it to command-and-control (C2) servers managed by the XcodeGhost operator. This way, the XcodeGhost operators circumvented the security of Apple’s official Xcode distribution, and the security of Apple’s App Store.
The infection had widespread impact. As of September 25th, Palo Alto Networks and Fox-IT had identified more than 87 infected apps by name, and FireEye claimed to have identified more than 4,000 infected apps. This activity impacts millions of users both in China and elsewhere in the world. To understand key aspects of the infection, iDefense researchers leveraged authoritative DNS traffic patterns to the C2 domains.
Today’s new age of ubiquitous connectivity has created an insatiable and growing demand among employees and consumers to be online with familiar systems and tools at all times. Employees are no longer satisfied with the limited choices in devices and tools provided to them by their corporate IT organizations. They want to use what they want,when they want. They believe that choosing their own devices and tools provides them with the highest level of comfort and efficiency. This desire to use personal devices in work environments, referred to as “bring your own device (BYOD),” coupled with the growing cyber-attack surface, poses significant challenges to IT organizations. These challenges are leading such organizations to ask themselves – Are we ready to support BYOD?
Defending against cyber threats is not only critical, but increasingly difficult and expensive. Just a quick glance at today’s news headlines and it is clear that these threats present numerous challenges to Internet users and the organizations that both serve and employ them. For example, in 2014, McAfee Labs observed a 75 percent year-over-year increase in new malware equating to 387 new threats per minute. Further, the Ponemon Institute estimates the average data breach costs large organizations $3.8 million per event.
Most solutions either require extensive investment or do not meet an organization’s constantly evolving needs. Traditional, appliance-based security solutions can require organizations to shell out considerable amounts of money, both in up-front capital expenditure and in on-going maintenance fees. Conversely, many managed cloud-based offerings do not provide the critical capability to customize the solution based on an organization’s specific business environment and security needs. Finally, do-it-yourself (DIY) open-source solutions suffer from constant patching and maintenance problems.
Enter the Verisign DNS Firewall, an easy-to-configure, cost effective managed cloud-based service that offers robust protection from unwanted content, malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs), delivered with the ability to customize filtering to suit an organization’s unique needs.
Recently, Verisign Labs researcher Eric Osterweil and Verisign CSO Danny McPherson, along with Lixia Zhang, a professor of computer science at UCLA, received the Best Paper Award at this year’s IEEE Workshop on Secure Network Protocols (NPSec ‘14) for their paper, “The Shape and Size of Threats: Defining a Networked System’s Attack Surface.” Below is a guest post from one of the authors, Eric Osterweil, principal researcher for Verisign Labs, describing the genesis of the research and future plans.
It has been another busy quarter for the team that works on our DDoS Protection Services here at Verisign. As detailed in the recent release of our Q2 2014 DDoS Trends Report, from April to June of this year, we not only saw a jump in frequency and size of attacks against our customers, we witnessed the largest DDoS attack we’ve ever observed and mitigated – an attack over 300 Gbps against one of our Media and Entertainment customers.
Recent attacks targeting enterprise websites have created greater awareness around how critical DNS is for the reliability of internet services and the potentially catastrophic impact of a DNS outage. The DNS, made up of a complex system of root and lower level name servers, translates user-friendly domain names to numerical IP addresses. With few exceptions, DNS lives in a grey area between IT and network operations. With the increasing occurrences of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, advanced persistent threats (APTs) and exploitation of user errors through techniques such as typosquatting and phishing, enterprises can no longer take a passive role in managing their DNS internet infrastructure.