Why securing the Domain Name System remains an afterthought at many organizations.
It's been nearly one year since the massive DDoS attack on Domain Name Service (DNS) provider Dyn that disrupted major websites including Amazon, CNN, Netflix, Okta, Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter, but DNS security remains an enigma for many businesses.
According to a new study conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Infoblox, some three out of 10 companies have been hit with cyberattacks on their DNS infrastructure, 93% of whom suffered downtime - 40% of them for an hour or more. But that likely just scratches the surface of the volume of attacks on DNS, experts say, because many DNS attacks are tough to detect.
"That number [of attacks] seems a little low," says DNS pioneer Paul Vixie, CEO and founder of DNS security firm FarSight Security, of the new data. Vixie, who is the principal author of the pervasive BIND DNS server software and creator of several DNS standards, notes that it's difficult for some organizations to pinpoint an attack came via their DNS.
Downtime costs, too, are likely higher than the Dimensional/Infoblox study data shows. Some 54% of organizations in the study say they lost $50,000+ to a DNS attack, while nearly a quarter lost $100,000+. "There are things you can count, but you don't know about every attack that happens or every actual cost because it isn't always" quantifiable, so the losses could be more, Vixie notes.
Prakash Nagpal, vice president at network and DNS security firm Infoblox, concedes that there likely are more DNS attacks that just aren't discovered. "I do think more companies have been" hit than that, he says of the data. The most well-known DNS threats are distributed denial-of-service attacks, of course, he says. But "DNS is not just about DDoS attacks," Nagpal says.
"In a lot of cases they [victims] don't know they were subjected to DNS attacks because they [the attacks] are so subtle … I don't think people make the connection between DNS and malware" distribution and data exfiltration, he says.