What Is DNS Hijacking And How To Avoid It?

We live in a furiously fast-paced technological world where almost everything is digitalized. This digitalization is indeed very fruitful and has this vast world reduced to our fingertips. However, with all the awesome things there sure are some drawbacks.

With technology comes the dangers of its misuse. Sure technology has brought about revolutionary changes within the society that feed our needs, but there sure are many backdrops.

The concerns related to cybersecurity is one of the main concerns of people and analysists. One such threat is DNS hijacking, a thing which all the technologists hoped to have gotten rid of.

However, with recent DNS attacks on high-end platforms such as Google Cloud, Gmail, Netflix, and PayPal the dangers of DNS hijacking are increasing.  This article covers information regarding:

  • DNS hijacking
  • It’s types
  • Methods of protection.

Let’s start with an insight into DNS hijacking.

What is DNS hijacking?

A DNS hijacking attack is a malicious attack that makes the user is redirected to a domain name server (DNS) by prevailing the IP addresses of the user’s device. The hackers go through with this activity by merely altering the user’s server setting or with the help of malware.

Once the hijacker succeeds in hacking a person’s DNS, he can control the traffic of the device to his will. DNS hijacking plays a role in phishing, as well as pharming. Some governments, as well as ISPs, make use of DNS hijacking.

The ISPs use DNS hijacking purely for commercial purposes. They mainly use it as a means to collect data and statistics to display ads to the users when they access through an unknown domain. The governments practice it to redirect to government authorized content as well as to impose censorship.

There are two main types of DNS hijacking:

  1. The first one is the kind that infects the user with DNS Trojan attack or malware. This prevents the computer from the user-friendly domain names to the respective IP addresses.
  2. In the type of DNS hijacking, the hacker infiltrates the websites and changes their DNS addresses. This way when a user visits the site, an entirely different one opens up.

Types of DNS hijacking:

DNS hijacking can occur in four distinct ways. These four basic types of attacks are defined below:

1.  Router DNS hijack:

Most of the routers come pre-equipped with default passwords as well as firmware vulnerabilities. In this attack method, the hijacker quietly hacks into the DNS router and takes over the DNS settings. This way all the users connected to the router are affected.

2.  Local DNS hijack

In this way, the attackers manage to install Trojan software in a victim’s computer. Through this, he leads to a change in the local DNS settings of the computer. This allows him to redirect the user towards malicious websites..

3. Rouge DNS attack:

In this, the hacker attacks the DNS server. He then proceeds to change DNS records. By changing the DNS records, the hacker redirects the user towards malicious sites.

4. Man-in-the-middle DNS attack:

In this type of attack, the hacker manages to intervene within communication between the user and the DNS server. By doing so, he can then proceed to provide the user with different destination IP address point that is directed towards malicious sites.

DNS hijacking and Phishing:

Phishing is one of the most common issues in cybersecurity.  DNS hijacking happens to be an integral part of a phishing attack.

In a DNS hijack attack in which the user is being redirected towards a malicious link. This malicious link is usually a perfected copy of the original website the user aims to visit.

This is a threat to users as well as the website’s privacy. For instance, you are a target of a phishing attack while accessing your bank website. Your bank website is hacked, and you get redirected.

As the website is hacked initially, then you will end up submitting your information as well as credentials to a fake site of a hacker, and thus your information will be leaked.

DNS hijacking and Pharming:

This attack features redirecting the user towards a fake website. This hijack is done mainly for commercial purpose.

Let’s say for example you are trying to access a social media website. You enter the URL, but instead of being directed towards the platform you are redirected.

The link that opens up after the redirection contains many pop-up advertisements that generate revenue for the attacker.

This method is generally known as pharming. In it, the hacker organizes the attack with the primary motive of earning money from it.

How To Protect Against DNS hijack?

DNS hijack attacks are particularly sneaky. You might be under a DNS hijack attack, and you won’t at times even know it. This is why it’s better to take precautionary steps and boost up your security instead of being sorry later.

First off it is better to keep up the security on high by trying out the most common methods of protection. There are some basic things that one should necessarily use such as:

  • Having an updated security software
  • Making sure that the security patches are intact before going online
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links and opening up of unknown emails

Apart from these there are many other tried and tested ways to steer clear of DNS hijacking:

1.  Frequently update your router password:

The routers are usually equipped with a default factory password. To stay protected it is better to change the router settings continually.

If a hacker decides to target your router and tries to access it to make changes, he would be confronted by a custom password rather then a factory one. This could help stop the hacker from accessing the router.

2. Subscribe to a VPN service:

VPNs are best known to protect your privacy. They are known to be the most effective way to protect against DNS hijacking.

 A VPN encrypts your data and sens it through a tunnel so that it is unrecognizable for anyone who doesn’t have an encryption key.

Since while using a VPN your DNS will be in a secure encrypted tunnel, no hijacker would be able to hack it or redirect it.

3. Don’t be in the dark:

As you are knowledgeable about possible DNS attacks, then one way out is to be aware whether you are under a DNS attack or not.

The best way to track DNS hijack is to use ping utility. This is the method in which you try and ping a domain you are sure doesn’t exist.

If the unknown domain resolves, then there are likely chances that you are under a DNS hijack attack.

Parting Words:

While online it is better to stay vigilant about cyber threats! It is better to use several security tools that are available to be protected!

The internet is a dangerous world in all. Here it is so much better to stay safe then be sorry later!            

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