DNS Hijacking - What Is It and How to Protect Yourself?

By Haseeb Awan

DNS hijacking is a type of cyberattack that is becoming increasingly prevalent. It is a malicious attack that targets the Domain Name System (DNS), which helps your computer connect to the websites you visit. This attack can put your data, finances, and identity at risk. In this article, we'll explore what DNS hijacking is, how it works, real-world cases, and how to protect yourself against this type of cyberattack.

DNS hijacking is a type of cyberattack that targets the Domain Name System (DNS), the system utilized to translate domain names into IP addresses on the Internet. It is a form of data theft and manipulation that can have severe consequences for users. DNS hijacking can be used for malicious objectives, such as redirecting traffic to malicious websites and stealing personal information, and for financial gains, such as redirecting traffic to sites that pay for clicks.

The term DNS hijacking has been around since the early days of the Internet. It can describe various attacks, from redirecting traffic to malicious websites to stealing personal information. As the Internet has developed and become more complex, DNS hijacking has become more sophisticated and dangerous. It is now a significant threat to online security and should be taken seriously.

What is DNS Hijacking?

DNS hijacking is a cyberattack targeting a website's Domain Name System (DNS). This system is responsible for translating domain names (such as www.example.com) into their corresponding IP addresses so that computers can access them. By hijacking this system, attackers can redirect traffic to malicious websites or steal personal information.

DNS hijacking aims to gain control of a website or network by manipulating the DNS records. Cybercriminals can do this by redirecting traffic to malicious websites, changing the website's content, or stealing personal information. Attackers can also use DNS hijacking to access a website's admin panel or other sensitive areas.

The most common type of DNS hijacking is DNS cache poisoning, which involves attackers injecting malicious data into the DNS cache. This data can redirect traffic to malicious websites or alter the website's content. Another type of attack is DNS tunneling, which involves attackers tunneling through the DNS to gain access to the website or network.

DNS Hijacking for the Mobile Environment

Mobile carriers manage their DNS platform to control the user experience, and it produces a lot of data for them.

DNS makes using the Internet a lot easier to use by not having to remember a website domain rather than IP addresses, and companies can change their IP address if under attack, but threats to DNS include the following;

  • Malware can manipulate the DNS cache on your device
  • Intercept DNS requests between you and the cellular network
  • The DNS platform can also get hacked
  • The hacker can hack the WIFI router you are using as well.

All these methods had used to achieve the same result, to send you to a rogue web asset.

Let's say you request to go to bankofamerica.com, and the DNS request is hijacked and sent to a fake website where you enter your login credentials. While trying to figure out why you can't log in, the hacker has already collected your login information.

Hackers use this to gather login credentials, collect information about your device, and serve malware to hack you in the future - these refer to as Phishing. Or they serve you ads to generate ad revenue; this is called Pharming.

How Does DNS Hijacking Work?

DNS hijacking works by manipulating the Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS is a database of records that translates domain names (such as www.example.com) into their corresponding IP addresses. Attackers use various techniques to gain control of a website or network by manipulating the DNS records. One of the most common techniques is:

  • DNS cache poisoning is a malicious attack on the DNS system. It corrupts the DNS cache with malicious data that redirect users to malicious websites. It's an effective way to target users unaware of the attack, as their computers and devices will automatically send them to the malicious website instead of the legitimate one. So, how does DNS hijacking work? It starts with a malicious attacker inserting malicious data into the DNS cache. This data will then be stored, and when a user attempts a website, the DNS server will refer to the malicious data instead of the legitimate data. It will redirect the user to a malicious website instead of the legitimate one. DNS cache poisoning can be prevented by regularly clearing your DNS cache and using secure and reputable DNS servers. DNS hijacking can be dangerous, so it's essential to comprehend the risks and take steps to protect yourself.
  • DNS spoofing is an attack that redirects a user's internet traffic from the intended website to a malicious website. Though it may sound complex, it's pretty simple. All it requires is a bit of knowledge about how DNS works. First, a hacker finds a vulnerable DNS server. Then, they use that server to intercept and respond to requests for IP addresses for domain names. The hacker can then direct the user to malicious websites that look and act like the legitimate website they were trying to reach. This attack is hazardous because cybercriminals can use it to access users' sensitive information, like passwords and credit card numbers. DNS spoofing can also redirect search engine traffic to malicious websites or disrupt communication between two networks. DNS spoofing is an intense security threat and should not be taken lightly. Protecting your system from this type of attack requires vigilance and frequent monitoring.

Real-World Examples of DNS Hijacking

DNS hijacking is becoming increasingly common, with several high-profile cases in recent years.

For example, in 2017, attackers hijacked the DNS of a popular website and redirected traffic to a fake website. The attackers could steal personal information, including credit card numbers and passwords, from visitors to the website.

In 2018, attackers hijacked the DNS of a cryptocurrency exchange and redirected traffic to a malicious website. The attackers were able to steal over $1 million in cryptocurrency from the exchange.

Another case occurred in 2019 when attackers hijacked the DNS of a large hotel chain and redirected traffic to a malicious website. The attackers could steal customer data, including names, addresses, and credit card numbers.

These examples show how dangerous DNS hijacking can be and how quickly attackers can access sensitive data.

How to Tell if Your DNS is Hijacked?

If you suspect that your DNS has gets hijacked, there are several steps you can take to check. The first thing you should do is examine the DNS records of your website or network. If the records have changed, it could signify your DNS getting hijacked.

You should also check your website or network's traffic logs. If you notice any unexpected traffic or redirects, it could signal that your DNS gets hijacked. You should also check your website or network's security logs and look for any signs of malicious activity.

Finally, you should check your website or network's security settings. If your security settings have changed, it could signify your DNS getting hijacked.

How to Prevent DNS Hijacking?

The best way to protect against DNS hijacking is to take steps to secure your website or network. It includes using strong passwords, regularly updating your security software, and monitoring your website or network for suspicious activity.

It would help if you also used two-factor authentication for your website or network. It will make it more difficult for attackers to access your website or network.

It would help if you also used a secure DNS provider. It will ensure that your DNS records protect from manipulation.

Common DNS Hijacking Techniques

There are several techniques attackers use to hijack DNS. The most common techniques are DNS cache poisoning, tunneling, and spoofing.

DNS cache poisoning involves attackers injecting malicious data into the DNS cache. This data use to redirect traffic to malicious websites or alter the website's content.

DNS tunneling involves attackers tunneling through the DNS to gain access to the website or network.

DNS spoofing involves attackers creating fake DNS records that redirect traffic to malicious websites or alter the website's content.

Best Practices for Protecting Against DNS Hijacking

The best way to protect against DNS hijacking is to take steps to secure your website or network. These includes:

  • It's essential to use strong passwords, regularly update your security software, and monitor your website or network for suspicious activity. Following these best practices can go a long way in keeping you safe. First, make sure you use secure passwords that are hard to guess. A mix of lower- and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters is recommended. You should also change your passwords regularly and use different ones for different accounts. Second, make sure you keep your security software up to date. New threats are constantly emerging, and security software can help protect you from them. Finally, monitoring your website or network for any suspicious activity is essential. It includes unexpected changes to your DNS records or suspicious IP addresses. Take action immediately if you find anything out of the ordinary.
  • Two-factor authentication is one of the best practices for protecting against DNS hijacking. That adds an extra layer of security that requires users to provide more than just a password. They must also prove their identity with a second factor, adding an extra layer of protection for your website or network. Two-factor authentication also makes it harder for malicious actors to access your website or network. It is because it requires users to provide two pieces of information, making it more difficult for attackers to guess or brute-force their way in. Two-factor authentication can detect suspicious activity, such as multiple failed logins, and alert the proper authorities. It makes it one of the best practices for protecting against DNS hijacking. So if you want to ensure the security of your website or network, two-factor authentication is a must.
  • Use a secure DNS provider to ensure your DNS records are safe from manipulation. It will help protect your domain from DNS hijacking, which everyone should be doing. Not only will a secure DNS provider help to protect your domain from malicious activity, but it also has other benefits. For example, it can improve the speed and reliability of your DNS queries and provide better DNS redundancy. Using a secure DNS provider is also the best way to keep your DNS records updated, as they constantly update with the latest changes. It ensures that your domain remains secure and protected, no matter the circumstances. Taking the time to choose the right secure DNS provider is one of the best ways to ensure that your domain is safe and secure.
  • Finally, Keep your software up to date. Outdated software can be vulnerable to attack, exposing your network to malicious actors looking to exploit it. Thankfully, keeping your software up to date is relatively easy – most operating systems will automatically prompt you to install updates, which You can usually do with just a few clicks. But it's important to remember that updates don't just come out with new features. They also contain necessary security patches that help keep your system protected. So make sure you take advantage of these patches to ensure your system is as secure as possible. After all, the best defense is a good offense, and keeping your software up to date is a great way to stay ahead of potential threats.

So How Can You Defend Yourself Against DNS Hijacking When Using Your Cellphone;

A few suggestions include the following;

  • Use an antivirus app on your mobile phone to prevent rogue apps from attacking you like a trojan horse on your device. Mobile AV is reactive but necessary.
  • Use a VPN to access any application or website where you care about keeping your security, and choose a high qualify VPN that manages their DNS platform. If the price of the VPN is free or too good to be true, remember that handling mobile data is a costly undertaking, and they need to monetize your traffic one way or another.
  • Never click on links from unknown sources; even if you sent an SMS or email from a friend with a link or image, if it looks suspicious, double-check with them that they sent it. One trick is to get a list of your contacts, spoof their mobile number, then send you a malicious URL, so it looks like it's coming from your friend.
  • Ensure your home WIFI router uses a secure connection and that you changed the default router login information. Hackers look for wifi routers using the default login and password and will hack your router in seconds.

With that said, the only proper way to defend your cellular data usage is to use Efani's uber-secure Black Seal mobile service. The black seal is being launched as a data-only mobile plan that you can add to your existing mobile service, but we recommend using Efani's SAFE plan for voice and SMS, then using Black Seal for your data.

The Blackseal plan will protect your mobile data usage with the following, but not limited to, layers of security;

  1. Blackseal includes an independent DNS platform locked down for customers.
  2. The DNS platform uses DNSSEC, an encrypted DNS protocol that screens and cleans DNS requests with the latest intelligence of active DNS hacks.
  3. Blackseal also defends against cell tower spoofers used to intercept your cellular data.
  4. The combination of
  1. defending against cellular spoofers
  2. controlling the DNS platform
  3. Providing the SIM with SIM security and cellular service is the only way to provide a proper defense against DNS hijacking.  
Black Seal just launched in the US, and you can discover more about it here.

Conclusion

DNS hijacking severely threatens online security and is becoming increasingly prevalent. It is a type of cyberattack that targets the Domain Name System (DNS), which helps your computer connect to the websites you visit. It uses for malicious purposes, such as redirecting traffic to malicious websites and stealing personal information, and for financial gains, such as redirecting traffic to sites that pay for clicks.

To protect yourself against DNS hijacking, you should take steps to secure your website or network, use two-factor authentication, and use a secure DNS provider. Keep your software updated, as outdated software can be vulnerable to attack.

By understanding DNS hijacking and how to protect yourself, you can keep your data, finances, and identity safe and secure. Protect yourself now and stay ahead of the cybercriminals.

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