What is DNS security

What is DNS security and how does it help secure my domain?

DNS security is like air traffic control for the internet. It manages the flow of data to ensure safe and correct routing, just like planes in crowded airspace.

Without DNS security, your domain and website are at risk from bad actors looking to manipulate the DNS process and misdirect visitors. 

Whether it’s making your website unavailable to users resulting from a distributed denial of service (DDoS) or swapping your contact information to a domain hijacker’s own and transferring domain ownership — bad actors can seriously damage your website, revenue, and business reputation.

DNS issues can also interfere with your day-to-day website performance, site uptime, website speed, and reliability.

In short, DNS security is about fortifying your entire digital identity.

Identifying common types of DNS attacks

Knowledge is power. Let’s look at the major types of DNS cyberattacks and how to defend against them.

DNS cache poisoning (also known as DNS spoofing)

What happens: 

The DNS saves the wrong IP address, and users are redirected to fake (often malicious) websites without realizing it.

Possible outcomes: 

Loss of credibility, loss of business, and customer data vulnerability.

Solutions: 

Choose a domain provider that offers Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) where digital signatures ensure that it hasn't been tampered with when the DNS translates a website name to an IP address. 

Distributed denial of service (DDoS)

What happens: 

A DDoS attack is when multiple systems flood website bandwidth or resources, overwhelming the server and preventing genuine visits (denying service).

Possible outcomes:  

Website downtime, reputational damage, and financial loss. 

Solutions: 

Choose a domain provider that ensures their DNS infrastructure is resilient and your hosting provider has robust DDoS protection for servers. Regularly monitor traffic and update network security systems.

DNS sinkhole attacks

What happens: 

DNS entries are corrupted, access is blocked to specific sites or services, and traffic is routed to a potentially malicious destination.

Possible outcomes: 

Exposure to sites hosting malicious software (malware), data theft, and disruption of services. 

Solutions: Choose a domain provider that offers Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), use DNS servers from reputable providers, and regularly update DNS servers. Learn about phishing and DNS attacks and how to protect your devices and information.

DNS amplification attacks

What happens: 

Small queries are turned into much larger payloads directed at the victim’s network, resulting in high traffic levels. 

Possible outcomes: 

Network overload, potentially leading to a denial of service and resource-draining.

Solutions: Make sure your provider monitors network traffic, regularly update network security systems, and set up DNS servers to only answer requests from known or internal IP addresses.

Domain hijacking

What happens:

An attacker gains unauthorized access to the domain registration account of a website, allowing them to alter registration details, redirect traffic, or take complete control of the domain.

Possible outcomes: 

Loss of site control, reputation damage, redirection to malicious sites, and theft of sensitive information.

Solutions:

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA), choose unique, strong passwords, choose a reputable domain registrar, keep contact information updated, and educate domain registration account users on phishing scams.

Zone transfer attacks

What happens:

Attackers obtain a copy of the entire DNS zone file from the primary DNS server (which includes domain information including DNS records) and copy it to a secondary DNS server. They can then target IP addresses of important services. 

Possible outcomes:

Exposure of sensitive information, increased vulnerability, and potential subsequent attacks.

Solutions:

Restrict DNS zone transfers by allowing only authorized servers, implement access controls to prevent unauthorized zone transfers, and use DNSSEC.

Phishing

What happens:

By impersonating a trustworthy entity in an email or through messages, attackers deceive users into providing sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers on fake websites.

Possible outcomes:

Identity theft, financial loss, data breach, and loss of organizational trust.

Solutions:

Learn about phishing tactics, use spam filters, and keep security software and systems updated.

Typosquatting

What happens:

By registering minor typographical errors of well-known domain names (like spcship.com instead of spaceship.com), unsuspecting users are led to fraudulent websites.

Possible outcomes:

Redirection to malicious sites, brand damage, information theft, and ad revenue theft.

Solutions:

Register common misspellings of your domain name, educate users to check domain names before entering sensitive information, and enforce policies to prevent the registration of domain names that closely resemble well-known brands or trademarks.

Registrar data breaches

What happens:

Attackers gain unauthorized access to domain registrar systems, and data breaches can reveal sensitive information like usernames, email addresses, passwords, and payment details.

Possible outcomes:

Personal data exposure, identity theft, financial fraud, and domain hijacking risks.

Solutions:

Registrars must maintain robust security practices to protect customer data, and users must choose strong, unique passwords, and use 2FA.

DNS tunneling

What happens:

Using the DNS protocol, attackers can smuggle unauthorized data through a network, bypassing typical network security measures.  

Possible outcomes:

Malware communication, data exfiltration, network security compromise, and bandwidth consumption.

Solutions:

Registrars must monitor DNS traffic for signs of DNS tunneling, enforce restrictive DNS policies, and configure firewalls to look for unusual patterns. 

Cache poisoning through malware

What happens:

Malware is used to corrupt the DNS cache of a user’s computer or network device, resulting in domain names resolving to incorrect IP addresses. Instead of the expected destination, users are redirected to a fraudulent or malicious site.

Possible outcomes:

Redirection, data theft, spread of malware, and loss of trust.

Solutions:

Registrars can collaborate with internet service providers (ISPs) and security organizations to identify and block malicious domains used by malware. Use anti-malware software and upgrade all software regularly. 

What happens:

A service provider's DNS infrastructure is targeted, intending to disrupt the provider’s platform and operations. Attacks may include DDoS attacks on DNS servers, DNS hijacking, and cache poisoning. 

Possible outcomes:

Service disruption, data breach risk, reputational damage, and operation and finance losses.

Solutions:

Registrars must have high-security protocols and practices. Robust monitoring and incident response capabilities can help detect and respond to DNS security incidents promptly. Choose a provider with a strong reputation for security and trustworthiness.

Helping to protect your domain from attacks

Now you know more about DNS security attacks and why DNS security is important, here are two ways your chosen domain registrar can help keep your domain safe.

Zone file integrity 

What happens:

Zone file integrity refers to maintaining the accuracy and security of the DNS zone file. A compromise in zone file integrity can occur due to unauthorized access, misconfigurations, or attacks, and can lead to user redirection to incorrect IP addresses. 

Possible outcomes:

Misdirection to unintended or malicious websites, domain reputation damage, email delivery records due to MX record tampering, and potential for further attacks.

Solutions:

Registrars must regularly audit DNS zone files for unauthorized changes or inaccuracies, DNSSECC implementation, backup and recovery plans, and limiting access to DNS record modification. 

DNS abuse reporting

What happens:

DNS abuse reporting is where users, IT professionals, or automated systems proactively flag DNS activities or misuse to organizations responsible for handling such issues.

Possible outcomes:

Without reporting, malicious activities can continue, comprising network security and the spreading of malware and phishing campaigns.

Solutions:

Education on reporting protocols, collaboration with DNS authorities, automated detection, and prompt response and action can help DNS abuse reporting succeed.

Choosing the right provider: key considerations

Selecting the right domain registrar, hosting service, and DNS security provider who understands about the advantages of DNS security will give you confidence that your online presence is secure. 

Security features

Now you know about common DNS security attacks and understand why DNS security is important, naturally, you’ll look out for stellar security features like DNSSEC authentication and DNS DDoS prevention when selecting your provider. 

The ability to keep your domain registration information private and replace it with randomly generated data keeps it safe from hackers and identity thieves. Keep a look out for free domain privacy from your chosen provider.

Take the time to learn about policies and measures against common threats like phishing, malware, and DNS attacks. Choose a provider that adheres strictly to the best practices in DNS security.

Scalability and performance

Your provider should offer the chance to scale up your website when it grows. Check loading speed and bandwidth limits match your requirements for a hosting plan.

Backup and recovery

In case of data loss, asses backup frequency and ease of data recovery. Ensure that your provider has a firm recovery plan in place.

User-friendly management tools

An intuitive control panel helps with the easy management of your domain and hosting settings, as well as a variety of tools for DNS management. 

Security as standard at Spaceship

It won’t be a surprise that at Spaceship, domains are front and center. Robust DNS security is vital to our business, and our customers. As a comprehensive web platform, our high-security offerings counter DNS threats as long as you’re with us. 

We offer:

Proactive DNSSEC protection

The security of your domain is automated, shielding it against common DNS threats. Digitally signing records to ensure authenticity and integrity prevents threats like DNS cache poisoning and domain hijacking. If your registered top-level domain (TLD) supports DNSSEC at the registry level, we will enable it. 

Built-in DDoS protection

You’ll receive DNS-level protections plus server integrity. Filter out malicious traffic, keeping the DNS up and running.

Two-factor authentication

Your domain and account management are fortified with two-factor authentication (2FA), which helps prevent unauthorized access.

AutoBackup

With Shared Hosting plans, you can automatically keep your website backed up. There’s no complicated setup, and daily, weekly, and monthly backups will be saved on a separate server. Choose and restore the version you want, whenever you need it.

Free SSL certificates

Keep the communication between user browsers and your site’s server by encrypting it, shielding their private data from unauthorized access. SSL certificates are free with Shared Hosting plans.

Our platform will keep you and your domains secure every step of the way. 

From free domain privacy when you register, to built-in security like DNSSEC authentication and hosting plan add-on features like AutoBackup — and beyond.

Your domains and online presence are not just secure at Spaceship — they’re futureproof. 

If you’re looking for a provider that offers security as standard, you know we’ve got you covered.

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Colleen Branch

Colleen has focused on domain registration and management since 2019. Colleen started her copywriting career in 2008 and has been featured in HuffPost UK, The Times, and many other places in print and online. Her passions include cooking, music, and playing pool.
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