When people say that the internet is a dangerous place, they’re often referring to social threats like bullying and stalking. But there’s another, even more, sinister side of the net that’s starting to rear its ugly head. This threat comes in the form of cyberattacks, and most notably, DNS leaks and hijacking. This article will highlight the details of these threats and how to protect against them.
Securing private data and keeping systems safe is becoming increasingly difficult in light of the prevalence of cyberattacks. Major attacks like the breaches of British Airways and MyFitnessPal in 2018 highlight the need for better security. Though these are only the high profile attacks that the media takes notice of.
The latest popular form of attack can target a business or individual’s connection without ever accessing their devices. This is why choosing a trustworthy DNS system and taking the proper steps to protect a connection has become so important.
How Does DNS Work?
In order to be able to visit websites and send information over the internet, devices have to know where to connect to. This is where the Domain Name System (DNS) comes in. It serves as a directory that directs traffic to the places they’re intended to go.
Traffic needs to go through a DNS server because machines don’t read the human-readable URLs that people use to reference websites. They can only process numbers, like those in an IP address. So a DNS translates URLs into the correct IP addresses, which are then sent back to a device that wants to connect.
DNS Hijacking Explained
A cybercriminal can use either malware or server/website hacking to hijack the DNS IP response that a device gets. This could then lead people to a malicious website or keep them from entering the right website at all. Criminals usually launch these types of attacks for profit, either off of individuals or businesses.
Types of DNS Hijacking
Redirecting through a DNS server for Phishing: Hackers can hack into the DNS server of a company’s website, like a banking service, to replace the IP address with their own. The server will then direct users to an identical (or nearly identical) website to gather the details they enter. This allows criminals to steal people’s login information, identities, and credit card info. They can also intercept client or employee emails, chats, and financial information.
Redirecting Through Malware: Some cybercriminals opt to install malware on a router so that it keeps redirecting users to their websites. These could be websites that are identical to real ones like in the example above. Or they could be new websites full of ads or malicious content.
Adopt These Preventative Measures
Consider applying some of these easy but important security measures to protect against DNS hijacking. This won’t prevent every attack, but it will lessen the likelihood of one happening.
– Ditch the regular DNS that comes with an ISP as they’re often targeted. Search for a credible third-party DNS service that puts out regular security updates.
– Be wary of connecting to public WiFi hotspots as they’re hotspots for DNS attacks too.
– Use a VPN service to prevent information from getting stolen through DNS hacking by encrypting the connection.
– Stay away from shady websites.
– Change the default password on the browser as this can be guessed/found by hackers.
Taking Care of DNS Leaks
On regular DNS servers, anyone from the ISP to people who have illegal access to the server can see people’s online activities. To prevent this, many people opt to use a VPN that creates a safe connection by redirecting traffic through a secure tunnel.
Unfortunately, not all VPN services are equally reliable. Some aren’t fully secure and can leak DNS requests, which is also called a DNS leak. This could expose sensitive personal information, rendering the purpose of getting a VPN for privacy useless.
Prevent a DNS leak from happening by testing the connection and fixing the issue if one arises.
How to Perform a DNS Leak Test
Doing a DNS leak test is pretty simple – https://nordvpn.com/features/dns-leak-test/. Just search for and choose a reliable leak test tool – there are dozens available on the web. It shouldn’t be necessary to download anything as the test will be done via the website that’s hosting it. Make sure to connect to the VPN first, though, before starting the test.
If the VPN is doing its job successfully, then the test won’t reveal any ISP server information. Otherwise, there might be a DNS leak. To prevent any leaks, make sure to choose a good VPN service, preferably one with a DNS leak protection feature.
Cyberattacks are getting worse, and everyone’s a target. The only way to stay safe is to stay up to date with current safety practices and keep monitoring for potential weak spots. DNS hijacking and leaking are two major problems that need to be taken care of as well, by both businesses and individual people.