What is DNS hijacking & How to Fix It?
A website or even your domain name aren’t fully secure unless you take counter measures. This is why after getting a website and registering a domain name, the protecting both is necessary. But did you know that your domain name and website are still vulnerable to attacks because of the loopholes that exist in the internet’s ecosystem right at the Domain Name System level?
Just as every house on the street has its own address, every device connected to the internet also has what is known as an IP address that is associated with it. If the device does not have an IP address, it will not be visible to other devices that are connected to the same internet network. All these IP addresses are stored in a system where it names all the computers linked to it, called as the DNS system on the internet.
Like anyone can enter a house on the street to rob someone, miscreants on the internet in the form of hackers can do the same on the internet by causing infiltration in the DNS system. One of these forms is DNS hijacking. But why is it called hijacking? How does it happen and if it does what can you do about it? Can you prevent it? Yes of course you can.
With this article, we will answer all your above questions. So, if you want to know more, please keep reading further.
What is DNS Hijacking?
An assault on a domain name system (DNS) is referred to as DNS hijacking.
It is possible that the incident was the result of an attack on the Domain Name System (DNS) that rendered it inaccessible for usage. However, it is also possible that the incident was the result of a covert method that directed users of the targeted website to visit a different website. In either case, the Domain Name System (DNS) is utilised throughout a large portion of the hijacking attack procedure.
Most of the time, when an attacker takes control of a DNS server, they will mis resolve queries that users send to the DNS server and then secretly divert those users to fraudulent websites. After that, the user of the website either navigates to the malicious website by accident or continues to use the internet on a server that has been compromised by cyberattacks.
Numerous businesses all around the world have domain names that link to their websites. The purpose of these websites is to give website visitors with further information about the products and services that the businesses offer. As a result, each day there are major waves of DNS hijacking attempts taking place all over the world.
In most cases, malware is planted on users’ computers by attackers, who then redirect users’ inquiries to malicious websites from where they can steal data such as the user’s login credentials and other information. In certain other instances, the communication between the Domain Name Server is hacked to accomplish the same goal.
If a DNS hijacking assault occurs, it is possible that you may lose users because they will no longer trust the security of your website and will be unable to access the content of your website. This will cause them to become frustrated. Hackers could gain access to critical information about your customers, putting both your company and your consumers at danger of being the victim of fraudulent activity.
Why would someone want to take your DNS?
There are different reasons why cyber-criminals will take over a domain name system. Sometimes, the hacker will use it for pharming, which is the act of showing annoying ads to make money from users being redirected. Sometimes it’s used for hacking, which involves showing fake websites that are dangerous and are meant to get people to give away their passwords and other personal information. Though, in many other situations, it is very clear why a hacker would want to attack a domain name system in the first place. They want to take money out of people’s bank accounts and send it to other people, use stolen cards to make purchases, and sell personal information about people who use these websites on the dark web.
It is well known that a lot of Internet service providers (ISPs) use this domain redirection technique to track their users’ DNS queries, collect information about them, and show them ads that are more relevant to them based on that information. In some less common situations, Internet service companies (ISPs) finally let their customers set up settings that stop hijacking on their own. If the setting is used properly, DNS will go back to how it was when it was first set up. The user’s choices will almost never be saved by other ISPs; instead, they will use a cookie stored in the user’s web browser. The user’s DNS searches will still be sent, but instead of the ISP redirect page, a fake DNS error page will be shown.
DNS hijacking is a method that different parts of the government use to control people and send them to official government websites.
Different kinds of DNS hijacking attacks
There are four different ways for hackers to take over a DNS server:
Local DNS Hijack:
This kind of DNS hijacking happens when a hacker puts a Trojan horse virus on a website user’s computer. This nasty malware looks like a normal piece of software. Once it’s up and running, hackers will be able to get into current network systems and steal data. They will also be able to change DNS settings to send people to fake websites without being caught.
Hackers launch a DNS attack by changing and replacing the DNS settings of a DNS router that is weak. A DNS router is a physical device that domain service providers use to connect domain names to IP addresses that are similar. When someone takes over your router’s DNS, this is called a “router DNS hijack.” Once this step is done, the attackers will block the website and send visitors to a different fake name. Because of this, people will not be able to get to the original page.
Rogue hijacking is a form of cyber-crime that is far more difficult to commit than local hijacking since it cannot be managed from the device that it is intended to compromise. Instead, hackers modify certain listings by taking control of the existing name server belonging to the ISP. Because of this, the victims who are unaware of what is going on appear to visit the correct DNS server, but the server has been compromised by the hackers. After that, the fraudsters alter the DNS records to divert the user’s DNS requests to a website that contains malicious code. Because internet service providers have adopted stricter cyber-security requirements, attacks like this one are far less common and much more difficult to carry out. When this assault occurs, it has the potential to affect a very large number of users, as it might happen to everyone who uses this service to get answers to their questions.
Man in the middle attacks:
Attacks known as “Man in the Middle” are characterised by the fact that they focus on intercepting communications that take place between you and the DNS. Because many DNS requests do not contain encryption, the hacker is able to disrupt the communication that is taking place between a client and a server by making use of specialised tools. The people who made the request are subsequently given a different destination IP address, which directs them to a website that hosts harmful content. A DNS cache poisoning attack may also be carried out with this method, and it can be carried out not only on your local device but also on the DNS server itself. The end outcome is essentially the same as what was discussed earlier.
How is it possible to avoid DNS Hijacking?
If you are looking for DNS hijacking fix, it is preferable to prevent hacking from occurring in the first place, regardless of the origin of the intrusion, be it local, via the router, or via rogue DNS hijacking. The first step can be taken by just being aware. When you go to a website that you have never been to before and it displays tabs, landing pages, and pop-ups that you have never seen before, you should proceed with extreme care and immediately leave the page. The first step in enhancing digital security is becoming more aware of the various warning indicators that can be found online.
Nevertheless, as the owner of a website, there are a few precautions you may take to protect against DNS hijacking. You can improve the safety of your DNS as well as the protection of your data in general by taking a variety of steps on your own.
A) Never click on a link that looks strange or cannot be identified
Some examples of this are links included in emails, messages, and social media posts. To avoid further obscuring the locations of potentially harmful links, you should limit your use of technology that shorten URLs. Even though it will take more time, a URL should always be typed into your browser manually. This should only be done after verifying that the URL is correct.
B) Utilise reliable antivirus software
It is always a good idea to check your computer for viruses on a regular basis and to update your software when it is required. Your computer’s security software will be able to assist you in locating and removing any viruses that were introduced because of a DNS hijack. This is especially helpful in the event if Trojan malware was introduced to your system during a local hijack. Because harmful websites can transmit a wide variety of malware and adware, it is recommended that your computer be scanned on a regular basis for viruses, spyware, and any other hidden problems.
C) Utilise a Virtual Private Network
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will encrypt all the information that you send and receive from websites. To safeguard both your local PC and their DNS servers, most popular VPNs make use of private DNS servers. These servers make exclusive use of end-to-end encrypted requests. Therefore, you will have servers taking requests that are uninterruptible, which drastically minimises the possibility of a man-in-the-middle DNS hijacking occurring on your network.
D) Change your router’s passcode and username
Although altering the password and username for your router may appear to be both intuitive and uncomplicated, a significant number of people fail to do so. Because they are rarely changed, the default login credentials for routers are particularly easy to steal. This is one of the reasons why it was mentioned before. When creating a new password, we typically recommend that you choose a “strong” password, which is a password that is approximately 10–12 characters long and has a combination of numerals, special characters, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters.
E) Limiting access to the DNS
You can lower the possibility that opportunistic hackers will take advantage of your team members by restricting access to DNS settings to a small number of your committed IT staff members. This will help reduce the likelihood that opportunistic hackers will take advantage of your team members. Make it so that only a select few people ever visit the DNS registrar, and that when they do, they always use two-factor authentication.
F) Activate client lock
“Client locking,” which prevents unauthorised modifications to DNS records, is provided by some DNS registrars and can be activated by the client. Turning it on is something that should be done whenever it is possible to do so.
G) Employ a registrar that is compliant with the DNSSEC standard
The use of Domain Name System Security Extensions, which are one type of “verified real” indication, contributes to the overall credibility of a DNS lookup. Because of this, it will be more difficult for malicious actors to intercept your DNS requests.
At the end of the day, DNS hijacking affects many websites worldwide. Cyber criminals have used DNS hijacking attacks against many enterprise-level businesses for a variety of reasons. Notwithstanding the numerous precautions and attempts put in place by business owners to prevent DNS spoofing and attacks, hackers continue to advance and create new techniques for breaking into any susceptible DNS, stealing information and jeopardising networks.
Therefore, you need to have up-to-date IT specialists on your team if you want to safeguard your company’s website against DNS hijacking. These employees will guarantee that your security is up to date and at a high level. Additionally, they will identify faults and bugs so that they can be fixed before criminals take advantage of them. In summary, taking the above-mentioned steps will benefit you and your company more than you could imagine and assist you in preventing DNS hijacking.
BigRock is a reliable domain, web security and web hosting provider that offers 99.9% uptime, 24/7 support, high scalability and performance. In case you have any doubts, queries or feedback for this article, please share them in the comments section below.