Feeds

Black hats attack gaping DNS hole

Fake Google exploit 'wildly mature'

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Miscreants are actively exploiting a gaping hole in the internet's address lookup system that can cause millions of web surfers to receive counterfeit pages when they try to access online banking services and other types of websites.

The first confirmed instance came on Tuesday, when security researcher H D Moore discovered a domain-name service server operated by AT&T had been compromised. The attack caused Moore and other AT&T subscribers to be redirected to a fake Google page that tried to push affiliate advertising sites.

According to Dan Kaminsky, the researcher who first warned of the DNS vulnerability, "there are definitely other confirmed attacks," but non-disclosure agreements prevent him from giving details.

Equally concerning, Kaminsky said, is the sophistication the AT&T attackers showed in carrying out their attack. Rather than use exploit code added last week to Metasploit, a penetration testing kit that just happens to be maintained by Moore, the miscreants fashioned their own program that stealthily redirected users trying to visit Google to an impostor site.

"That was a wildly mature attack," Kaminsky told The Register. "Someone had an entire infrastructure built to attack Google's click-fraud system. That's a significant amount of code."

For more than a week, other researchers pointed to an increase in queries to DNS servers and other evidence suggesting attacks, but the AT&T exploit is the first to be documented.

As we reported last week, AT&T was one of the many laggard internet service providers reported to be dragging their feet in applying patches that fix the devastating DNS flaw. Kaminsky says more ISPs appear to be getting the message. Last week, about 51 per cent of unique name servers tested on his site (see the "check my DNS" button to the right) showed up as vulnerable. Now, he says it's closer to 35 percent.

In most cases, installing the patch is a straight-forward affair, but not always. Paul Vixie, head of the organization that maintains Berkeley Internet Name Domain, the net's most popular DNS server software, recently said updates patching the flaw could cut performance under heavy loads. Vixie said he believed fixing the flaw was more important than suffering slower performance. An update improving performance is in the works.

Even still, it's been more than three weeks since Kaminsky, Vixie and a choir of other influential net figures began imploring organizations to run the patch. Now that attacks have been confirmed in the wild, it's hard to imagine a justification for not doing so.

To test whether your ISP is an offender, please run the tests here or here, and report the results in the comments section. Be sure to include the name server's IP address and the name of the ISP. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.