A domain name system (DNS) is a set of records that maps human-readable domain names to IP addresses. For example, if you want to know the IP address for your domain name www.example.com, the DNS records will show you.
It’s important for businesses to monitor their DNS because it can indicate a problem, such as a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDOS) attack.
If a DNS attack is in progress, it can cause your site to go down or even block access entirely. The good news is DNS checks can prevent such mishaps from happening.
A Little Look Back About DNS
When the internet was still in its infancy, people had to enter the IP addresses of websites they were trying to search in the browser. As more and more websites launched online, it became impossible to remember their IP addresses.
Even if one could remember the IP addresses of their most frequented sites, they could receive an error if the IP address of that website changed. There was a desperate need for a solution, and then came the DNS.
You see, humans are good at remembering names, and machines operate on numbers. DNS translates human-readable website names into IP addresses. Computers use them to communicate with one another.
Furthermore, companies can now easily update their DNS records.
Simple enough. So, what’s the problem?
Why is DNS Vulnerable to Attacks?
Despite the numerous benefits of the internet, it’s also a playfield for hackers. DNS is a critical piece of infrastructure on the internet but is not impervious to security threats.
Hackers and malware creators have found ways to exploit flaws in DNS to steal your personal information and interrupt internet service.
Here are the most common security threats targeting DNS:
- DNS Poisoning: A hacker alters your DNS settings so that the user is directed to a malicious website instead of your site. Users would then unknowingly download malware or give out their personal information.
- DDoS Attacks: They’re an attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users. A DDoS attack is an act of cyber terrorism that’s carried out by an individual or a group of people. They use the internet to send a large number of requests to the target DNS server, overwhelming its capacity and causing it to collapse.
- DNS Tunnelling: DNS tunnelling has been a long-standing problem for network security professionals since the early 2000s. It’s a technique by which a computer can access resources on the internet without the use of IP addresses. It’s done by using a DNS server to pass messages back and forth between the computer and the internet.
How to Check Your DNS?
Regular DNS checks are pivotal to your business’s safety. You can check your DNS record with your domain registrar. If you run your own DNS servers, you can do it yourself.
To avoid any of the above threats, you must keep tabs on the following:
- IP Address(s): As mentioned before, IP addresses are critical to the function of DNS. The IP address in the system should be the same as the IP address you provide.
- Start of Authority (SOA) Record: A SOA record is a type of DNS record that defines the authoritative name servers for a domain. Monitoring your SOA records for changes can serve as a preventive measure to stop DNS attacks. You can do it by checking the SOA serial numbers, which are time-stamped. If the SOA serial number changes, the record has been manipulated.
- MX and SRV Records: MX stands for Mail Exchange and SRV for Service Records. Both are record types that store information about mail servers. Monitoring MX and SRV Records can help prevent DNS attacks by providing a list of all the domains you are hosting and the corresponding mail servers.
- Name Server (NS) Records: Checking NS records is a way to spot if someone has tampered with your records and that they’re delivering data to your users.
Protect Your Business from Attacks!
DNS servers are like the Yellow Pages of the internet. Technology has completely changed the way people live and do business.
However, despite the significant improvements made through the years, DNS is still prone to attacks from malicious parties. New threats keep presenting themselves every now and then.
You can keep DNS attacks at bay by monitoring your IP addresses, SOA records, MX and SRV records, and NS Records. Make DNS checks a priority!