A DNS spoofing attack is a common tactic for man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Hackers use DNS spoofing to intercept communication between two targets. The hackers change a legitimate website’s domain name system (DNS) records so users are redirected to a fake website, typically by hijacking a DNS server.

This malicious website dupes users into entering their account details or login credentials so the hackers can steal this data and access the victims’ accounts. In certain cases, hackers also use the malicious website to install malware onto the users’ computers and steal the data found there. This type of attack is a common cybersecurity threat.

What Is a Good Example of a DNS Spoofing Attack?

Say a hacker wants to intercept the traffic between a user and a bank website to steal the user’s banking login credentials. (Remember here that the hacker, the user, and the website all have their own specific internet protocol (IP) addresses.)

  1. First, the hacker will do reconnaissance to find the IP addresses, the DNS server’s MAC address, and any vulnerabilities in the DNS server.
  2. Next, the hacker will use a tool to modify the MAC addresses to “spoof”‘ the web server into believing that the hacker’s IP address belongs to the user. This process is then repeated so the hacker can trick the user into believing he or she is communicating with the web server.
  3. The hacker also creates a bank website nearly identical to the real bank website and sets up a web server. Part of this step is also to inject fake DNS entries to reroute the connections.
  4. The last step is using another tool such as dnsspoof so that when the user tries to access the bank’s website, the user is redirected to the fake website instead.

What Are the Risks of a DNS Spoofing Attack?

Intercepting DNS traffic is not complicated for a skilled hacker. Since the DNS servers don’t validate the IP addresses they point to, it’s easy for hackers to conduct a DNS spoofing attack successfully. This can be damaging for the victim, especially if it harms an organization.

Risks of DNS spoofing:

Malware infection and deployment. If a hacker gains access to a corporate account or device, he potentially can penetrate through the company’s firewalls to deploy malware into the network. Alternatively, the fake website to which the end user was initially lured may force the download of malware or ransomware directly onto the device. Hackers can use these tactics to lock the files stored locally on the device or on the company servers, and demand a ransom payment for the decryption key.

Stealing data. In addition to locking the files, hackers can also steal the data in a tactic known as double extortion. This is more common when the victim is an organization rather than an individual.

User credentials theft. Typically, hackers will create fake websites for banks or online retailers so they can capture a victim’s account details using a keystroke logger. These details are then used to steal credit card information or gain access to bank accounts.

What Is the Difference Between DNS Spoofing and a DNS Cache Poisoning Attack?

Although DNS spoofing and DNS cache poisoning share some similarities, the key difference is that cache poisoning is just one method that hackers can use to conduct a DNS spoofing attack.

When using cache poisoning, a hacker has somehow managed to access the DNS records cached by an internet service provider (ISP) and inject a forged or incorrect record into the legitimate cache. If successful, the hacker will have spoofed the DNS records, by way of ‘poisoning’ the DNS cache set up by the ISP for their customers to use.

What Is the Difference Between a DNS Spoofing Attack and a DNS Hijacking Attack?

Unlike a DNS cache poisoning, there is a core difference between a DNS hijacking attack and a DNS spoofing attack.

A DNS hijacking attack, also known as a redirection attack, relies on infecting the victim’s device or router with malware that’s used to incorrectly resolve DNS queries and redirect the victim to a malicious website. Governments may use this tactic to block their citizens from accessing certain websites and redirect to government-approved websites.

How to Prevent DNS Spoofing Attacks

The most effective method to prevent DNS spoofing attacks is the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) protocol, which adds a cryptographic authentication to the DNS records. The DNS resolver will use the cryptographic signature to authenticate the record to ensure that the DNS records haven’t been spoofed or compromised.

Additional methods used to prevent DNS spoofing include:

  • Using a virtual private network (VPN) so that all traffic sent from one device to another passes through the VPN and is automatically encrypted. This makes it difficult for hackers to intercept the connection.
  • Implement security awareness training for your employees so they learn to identify the tell-tale signs of a malicious website, such as typos in the domain name, changes in web design, or logo changes.
  • Ensure that any webpage visited is TLS/SSL secured. There should be a green padlock at the beginning of the URL address bar in your web browser. If there is no padlock present, it means the traffic between your computer and the website is unencrypted, making it easier to hack.
  • Conduct regular patching of the DNS servers since they have their own vulnerabilities.

Monitor and Assess Cyber Risk with ZenGRC

Reciprocity’s ZenGRC all-in-one platform allows businesses to assess risk across various threats and vulnerabilities, detect, monitor, and remediate risks discovered with real-time updates. In addition, ZenGRC allows businesses to conduct a security audit across a wide array of industry frameworks, identify unknown vulnerabilities, and detect suspicious behaviors.

Schedule a demo to learn how ZenGRC can help your organization minimize the impact of suspect DNS requests, cyberattacks, and phishing attacks to ensure business continuity.