By Mike Fratto, InformationWeek,
October 3, 2008 10:20 AM
Flaws in DNS are giving rise to exploits that could make moving computing functionality into the cloud a risky proposition. Say you're using a software-as-a-service CRM offering. When a salesperson types your SaaS provider's URL, how do you know his browser is linked to the vendor's server, and not a rogue?
Consider the hijacking of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s Internet portal, Comcast.net. In May, attackers gained access to Comcast's Network Solutions administrative accounts and redirected customers to a defaced page. It took several hours for the company to regain control of its domain. Had the attackers been more subtle, they could have inflicted serious financial harm on Comcast by intercepting customer data, rather than simply causing embarrassment
Security of DNS, which for 20 years has underpinned the Internet's name resolution system, was thrust into the spotlight this year with the discovery by IOActive researcher Dan Kaminsky of a flaw that could have made hijacking a domain name a trivial exploit that took only minutes to execute. How real was the risk? It resulted in the largest simultaneous security software patch in Internet history in July, with 16 vendors with whom Kaminsky shared the flaw--including the major makers of DNS servers, such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA) -- releasing their respective patches on the same day.
If we can't rely on DNS, it's a stretch to let business units access mission-critical applications over the Internet, or trust that sensitive data sent to SaaS providers hasn't been intercepted. This sentiment isn't lost on our readers: In our most recent cloud computing survey, security was by far the most oft-cited concern.