Feeds

Vendors form alliance to fix DNS poisoning flaw

Giving the good guys a headstart

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

While Kaminsky and other internet protocol experts who discussed the issue on Tuesday would not give specific details of the flaw, a CERT vulnerability note described the issue as a combination of DNS weaknesses. While the CERT note referred to the issue with a single Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) identifier, Microsoft, in its security bulletin, referred to the issue as two flaws: a DNS socket entropy vulnerability and a DNS cache poisoning vulnerability.

The CERT vulnerability note describing the issue lists more than 90 software developers and network equipment vendors that may be affected by the issue.

The coordinated response was anything but assured six months ago.

Kaminsky began contacting a small group of domain-name system (DNS) experts and software vendors, resulting in a brainstorming session at the end of March.

On March 31, sixteen internet and security experts met on Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Washington. The agenda was simple, according to Kaminsky: Decide if they properly understood the problem, figure out how to fix the issue, and set a timetable for release.

"We decided that the only way to do this would be a simultaneous release - Microsoft patches, Sun patches, BIND patches" all at the same time, he said.

Another problem that vexed the response team was that in many cases, researchers can use a patch to figure out the underlying vulnerability. But because the security flaw was a design issue, the group had options that could fix the problem in a way that did not spotlight the issue, Kaminsky said.

"This is the fundamental balancing act between how do we notify the good guys without bringing on the bad guys," he said. "We tried to give the good guys as much of a nonlinear advantage as possible. We think we gave them a month."

The solution implemented in the patches is to inject additional randomization into the domain name system (DNS) by randomizing the source ports used in DNS queries. The only permanent solution is to add authentication using a security-enhanced version of the protocol, such as DNSSec, but that proposal is bogged down by worries over adding costs to the name-server system.

Kaminsky's efforts to keep the issue secret until a patch appeared garnered praise from Jerry Dixon, former director of the National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security.

"This really shows the value add of independent researchers and the research community helping to make the internet more secure," said Dixon, who is now working with Team Cymru.

Kaminsky asked for the other researchers to show good judgement and not to release additional details of the flaws, if they find them.

"I'm making a request of the open-research community," he said. "Let's see if we can get the good guys fixed (first)."

For those researchers who believe they have pinpointed the problem: Kaminsky says to send him a note, and he will buy you a beer.

If you have tips or insights on this topic, please contact SecurityFocus.

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2008, SecurityFocus

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.