SWITCH Security-Blog

SWITCH-CERT IT-Security Blog


Leave a comment

The .ch zone file will be published as open data

The Swiss Federal council adopted the lower laws to the telecommunicaiton act today. Amongst it is the Ordinance on Internet Domains that also regulates the ccTLD .ch. SWITCH-CERT welcomes the new ordinance and the smart regulation by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM). The Ordinance on Internet Domains will come to power on 1.1.2021 and has some important changes.

The most obvious ist that the personal data of domain holders will no longer be published in the public whois, following other European countries and the GDPR. This is an important change to protect the privacy of Domain holders. There will be a regulated and monitored access for Swiss Authorities and others that require that data for fighting cybercrime or have other legitimate reasons to get access to the identity of a domain holder. You can find more information on the SWITCH website.

Not so obvious, but from the CERT and security persepective as important is that the .ch zone file will be published as a whole. While the data about (active) .ch domains itself has been published in the distributed Domain Name System ever since, the file containing all domain names – the .ch “zone” – was never public. This will change as of January 2021, details on how to access the .ch zone file will be published at the SWITCH open data page soon.

The .ch zone file contains all registered .ch domain names that have a NS record that points to the nameserver that gives authoritative answers for that domain name. If a domain is registered but has no NS record, it will not be published in the .ch zone file and cannot be resolved, the domain is not active, the website and email are not reachable by Internet users. The .ch zone file is an entry point to query all active .ch domain names for domain data at the authoritative nameserver. This data contains the (IP) addresses for webservers, for email and other public reachable services. It also contains information about who runs the infrastructure and allows the mapping to a country or geolocation. It is also visible which new technologies like IPv6 are used or what security features (DNSSEC, DANE, SPF, DMARC) are used or which Certificate Authority is indicated. This gives direct information about technological and economic details for all active .ch domain names. All this is already done by different initiatives. The publishing of the .ch zone file will give the possibility to make these data collection on .ch domain names complete.

Zone files of most TLDs are available. Generic TLDs (gTLDs) like .org and .com have to publish their zone file via ICANNs Centralized Zone Data System (CZDS) and also some other ccTLD registiries publish their zone file.

One of the possibilities with this information is to see recently activated domain names. This allows security researchers and authorities to monitor these names for potential harmfull activities like phishing or online fraud. This allows security researchers and authorities to monitor these names for potential harmfull activities like phishing or online fraud. Having access to the .ch zone file, they can react fast on malicious registrations and prevent damages for Internet users.

But fighting cybercrime was not the only reason to publish the .ch zone. Switzerland has a law on Open-Government-Data-Strategy that follows the open-by-default strategy. As the zone file contains no personal data, the publishing of the .ch zone file is in line with that law and we hope that open data researchers, public archives and others that look a the Swiss Internet can make use of this data for the public interest. We think that the .ch zone file is an important piece of information to better understand the economic, social and technological impact of the digital transformation in Switzerland. As almost everything in the Internet uses a domain name, changes in domain names can be important signals to detect ongoing or historic changes.

We welcome and encourage any public archives of historic and derived data by organisations and individuals who can add value to the .ch zone file. If you publish data like scan results or statistics, please let us know at cert@switch.ch.

 


Leave a comment

Growing support for open security standards in Switzerland

Open security standards are essential for a secure and resilient Internet in Switzerland and protect the privacy of Swiss Internet users. The adoption rate for Internet security standards like DNSSEC, DANE and DMARC in Switzerland is still low compared to the leading countries in Europe, but there is more and more support from the Internet industry, authorities and not for profit organizations in Switzerland.

Why are open security standards so important?

The implementation of open security standards that come out of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), reduce the attack surface of the domain/service owner. But even more important, a growing implementation rate reduces the attack surface of the internet as a whole and makes the life of cyber criminals and state actors more challenging. Open security standards provide different mechanisms to secure our communication on the internet, most important encryption and authentication. Encryption keeps our communication on the internet confidential and prevents third parties from reading our emails and tracking on which web sites users spend their time. Authentication allows us to identify and authenticate our communications partners, it makes sure that we are not on a fake website or send emails or our login credentials to a rogue email server. Continue reading


100’000 .ch domain names are secured with DNSSEC!

Imagine you want to visit your online banking website «www.example-bank.ch». Now, instead of getting the correct IP address your computer gets manipulated information and connects you to a website that is owned by a criminal. You wouldn’t notice but disclose your online banking credentials to the attacker.

Luckily, DNSSEC is here to help. The extension of DNS protects you from being misled and helps you reach exactly the address you typed into your browser. A complex cryptographic process makes sure, that you’re always at the right place.

100’000 .ch domain names are signed with DNSSEC

In late December 2019 the .ch zone achieved a milestone with 100’000 DNSSEC secured domains. DNSSEC adds digital signatures to DNS answers and helps to mitigate attacks on DNS name resolution.

The percentage of .ch domain names that are signed is still below 5%, but is rising thanks to a few registrars like Infomaniak, OVH, Firestorm and netzone that sign domain names for their customers by default. The number of DNSSEC signed .ch domain names rose  54% from 1.1.2019 to 1.1.2020.

By January 1st 2020 the .ch zone contained 100’065 domain names that are secured with DNSSEC

Top .ch domain names are just average regarding domain name security

Continue reading


Attacks on DNS continue, targets are also in Switzerland

Attacks on the domain name system continue

Talos, the intelligence group of CISCO reported in their blog that their monitoring shows that attacks on the domain name system (DNS) by “Sea Turtle” continue.  The attack technique used is similar than before, the actors compromise name server records to take ownership of the domain. They then provide false information to selected parties (e.g certificate authorities, mail users) which leads to the disclosure of email credentials of the targeted organisations. These credentials give initial access to the victims E-mails accounts and other resources and are a starting point for further attacks.

Victims in Switzerland

For the first time, Talos also reported victims in Switzerland.

Geographic Location of Sea Turtle Victims by Talos

While Talos didn’t disclose the targeted organizations they identified these groups as primary targets:

  • Government organizations
  • Energy companies
  • Think tanks
  • International non-governmental organizations
  • At least one airport

Continue reading


1 Comment

DNSSEC Usage in Switzerland is on the rise after widespread attacks on the Domain Name System

Attacks on the DNS System

Cyber attacks on the DNS system are not new. Cache poisoning, Domain Hijacking and BGP injections of routes to public DNS resolvers happen regularly, but they usually don’t get much attention as they target the Internet’s core infrastructure and are not directly visible to end users in most cases. This time it was different. The recent widespread DNS hijacking attacks on several Mid East, North African and European and North American governments and infrastructure providers, published by Ciscos Talos showed that DNS attacks are a real threat to cyber security. Netnod, one of the affected infrastructure providers issued a statement, that called, amongst other domain security mechanisms, for the implementation of the DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC).

The analysis of these attacks also convinced the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that there is an ongoing and significant risk to key parts of the System (DNS) infrastructure. ICANN issued a call for “Full DNSSEC Deployment to Protect the Internet” across all unsecured domain names.

The question is if  these attacks and the awareness that DNSSEC is an absolute essential base layer protection for domain names had some effects on the Implementation of DNSSEC Switzerland?

More DNSSEC signed domain names

As a ccTLD operator SWITCH publishes the number of DNSSEC signed .ch and .li domain names every month. While the number of signed domain names is still very low at around 3-4% we see a rise in the numbers of signed domain names for two years now.

DNSSEC signed .ch domain names 1.4.2019

Continue reading


Additional DNSSEC Training with PowerDNS on May 7 and 8

We announced 3 one day DNS trainings in the end of February and all three trainings where fully booked within 24 hours. We are happy to see so much demand for DNSSEC in Switzerland.
We managed to add two more dates for the DNSSEC training together with PowerDNS
The training will be given at the following dates in Zurich:

7.5. Zurich, SWITCH
8.5. Zurich, SWITCH

The one day training will give you an introduction into DNSSEC and show you how to sign DNS zones on an autoritative DNS server.
We will use PowerDNS for the practical and hands on part. PowerDNS contains support for DNSSEC, enabling the easy serving of DNSSEC secured data, with minimal administrative overhead.

Agenda:

• Short introduction to DNSSEC
• how DNSSEC works
• keys / signatures / NSEC / NSEC3
• Working with DNSSEC and the PowerDNS Authoritative server
• Short overview over PowerDNS Authoritative server backends (MySQL, PostgreSQL, BIND, pipe, …)
• DNSSEC signing
• Pre-signed zones
• CDS
• Zone transfers
• Utilities (pdnsutil)
• The PowerDNS ALIAS record (and its future)

Required skills: Unix system administrator skills and DNS server know how.The training will be delivered in english.

More information and registration here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dnssec-training-zurich-may-7-tickets-44474772241
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dnssec-training-zurich-may-8-tickets-44474795310


5 Comments

DNSSEC training with PowerDNS in Switzerland

SWITCH is organising a one day DNSSEC training together with PowerDNS

The training will be given at the following dates:

9.4. Zurich, SWITCH
10.4. Bern, Uni
11.4. Carouge HESGE

The one day training will give you an introduction into DNSSEC and show you how to sign DNS zones on an autoritative DNS server.
We will use PowerDNS for the practical and hands on part. PowerDNS contains support for DNSSEC, enabling the easy serving of DNSSEC secured data, with minimal administrative overhead.

Agenda:

• Short introduction to DNSSEC
• how DNSSEC works
• keys / signatures / NSEC / NSEC3
• Working with DNSSEC and the PowerDNS Authoritative server
• Short overview over PowerDNS Authoritative server backends (MySQL, PostgreSQL, BIND, pipe, …)
• DNSSEC signing
• Pre-signed zones
• Zone transfers
• Utilities (pdnsutil)
• The PowerDNS ALIAS record (and its future)

Required skills: Unix system administrator skills and DNS server know how.The training will be delivered in english.

More information and registration here:

Zurich: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dnssec-training-zurich-tickets-43350331007
Bern: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dnssec-training-bern-tickets-43592055010
Carouge: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dnssec-training-carouge-tickets-43592840359

Update 28.2.2018: All three trainings are fully booked after only 24 hours. We are happy to see so much interest in DNSSEC in Switzerland. Waitlist is now open.


16 Comments

94 .ch & .li domain names hijacked and used for drive-by

A Swiss domain holder called us today telling us that the .ch zone points to the wrong name servers for his domain.

The NS entries were ns1.dnshost[.]ga and ns2.dnshost[.]ga. We contacted the registrar and soon realized that this is not the only domain that had unauthorized changes. We identified 93 additional .ch and .li domain names that pointed to the two rogue name servers. While domain hijacking by pointing to a rogue NS is a known attack,  94 domains on a single day is very unusual. So we analyzed what the hijacked domains were used for and soon found out that they are used to infect internet users with malware.

Visitors to the hijacked domains were redirected to the Keitaro TDS (traffic distribution system):

hXXp://46.183.219[.]227/VWcjj6

A TDS decides where to redirect the visitor to, often depending on its IP address (i.e. country),
user agent and operating system.

A dead end may look like the following:

hXXp//46.183.219[.]227/favicon.ico
hXXp://46.183.219[.]227/www.bingo.com

And the visitor will be redirected to Google.

However, in some cases, the visitor is redirected to the Rig Exploit Kit:

hXXp://188.225.87[.]223/?doctor&news=...&;money=...&cars=236&medicine=3848
hXXp://188.225.87[.]223/?health&news=...
...

And the visitor gets infected.

The payload is Neutrino Bot:

MD5: a32f3d0a71a16a461ad94c5bee695988
SHA256: 492081097c78d784be3996d3b823a660f52e0632410ffb2a2a225bd1ec60973d).

It gets in touch with its command and control server and grabs additional modules:

hXXp://poer23[.]tk/tasks.php
hXXp://poer23[.]tk/modules/nn_grabber_x32.dll
hXXp://poer23[.]tk/modules/nn_grabber_x64.dll

A little later, it also gets an update

hXXp//www.araop[.]tk/test.exe

MD5: 7c2864ce7aa0fff3f53fa191c2e63b59
SHA256: c1d60c9fff65bbd0e3156a249ad91873f1719986945f50759b3479a258969b38)

Status

The rogue NS were inserted in the .ch zone file at around 13:00 today. The registrar discovered soon what happened and rolled back the unauthorized changes. At 16:00 all of the changes in the .ch & .li zone were reverted and the NS records pointed to the legitimate name servers again.

[Update 10.7.17 17:15]

Gandi the registrar of the 94 domain names has written a blog post, as well as SCRT the domain holder that initially informed us about the domain name hijacking of scrt.ch. SCRT also showed how Strict Transport Security protected their recurring visitors from being redirected to the bogus website!


1 Comment

DNSSEC Signing for .ch and .li on the Rise

The share of DNSSEC signed domain names in .ch and .li reached 1% for the first time in June 2017. While this is still a very low number compared to other ccTLDs, the number of DNSSEC signed domain names is increasing at a high rate for the last two quarters.

DNSSEC

The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) is a set of technologies that secures the origin authentication and data integrity of the Domain Name System. It allows to detect DNS records that have been modified on the way from the authoritative name server to the client using a domain name. This helps to protect Internet users from going to bogus websites.

In addition from protecting Internet users from cybercriminals and state sponsored actors, DNSSEC is the base for important standards such as DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE).

DNSSEC in .ch and .li

DNSSEC was enabled for the .ch and .li zones in 2010 but unfortunately received a slow adaptation by domain holders. From 2013 there was a slow but steady growth of domain names signed with DNSSEC. In November 2016 we noticed a increased rate of DNSSEC signed domain names that accelerated in April 2017.

From now on SWITCH will publish statistics about the number of signed domain names for both ccTLDs .ch and .li on the nic.ch and nic.li website.

DNSSEC Signed Domain Names in .ch   DNSSEC Signed Domain Names in .li
Continue reading


6 Comments

Usage of .ch domain names for spamming malware Tofsee stopped

It is rare that a malware family uses .ch or .li domain names in their domain name generation algorithm (DGA). The last time I remember, that we had to take action against a malware using .ch or .li domain names was about 8 years ago. It was Conficker that infected millions of computers worldwide. The malware was generating about 500 .ch and .li domains a day to be potentially used as a command and control server. By then SWITCH joined the conficker working group to prevent the use of domain names by this malware.

Since then we have been watching the use of .ch and .li domain names in malware DGAs and prepared for this by making an agreement with the Registrar of Last Resort (RoLR) to prevent the registration of domain names used in DGA algorithms of malware.

This week the Swiss Govermental Computer Emergency Response Team (GovCERT) informed us about the malware Tofsee using .ch as one of the TLDs in its DGA. Continue reading


Safer Internet

Anna is the director of a small kindergarten in Zurich. To give the kindergarten a home on the Internet, she registered a domain name and put up a website where parents can get up-to-date information about the kindergarten. A friend helped her to install a popular open-source content management system (CMS) for the website, so that she can change the menu every week and perform other updates herself. The parents of the kids were delighted to have access to this information online.

Three months after the website went online, one of the parents called her, telling her that the website was no longer available, and a warning was displayed instead. He also told her that he had a virus on his home PC and had to reinstall his operating system and change all his Internet passwords. When she talked to other parents that day, they told her the same.

What happened? Continue reading


Drive-by code and Phishing on Swiss websites in 2014

In 2014, about 1,800 Swiss websites were cleaned from drive-by code, compared with 2,700 in 2013, a decline of 33%. At the same time, the number of phishing cases affecting .ch and .li top-level domains rose from only a handful in 2013 to more than 300.

Drive-by code on Swiss websites in 2014

Last year, 35,796 suspicious drive-by URLs in the .ch and .li top-level domains were reported to SWITCH. Security experts from SWITCH-CERT automatically sent requests to these servers and analysed the responses, looking for malicious code injected into the HTML source code. When an expert identified malicious code, the registrar or domain name holder and the web hoster were notified and asked to remove it within one working day. This was done for 1,839 domain names in 2014. In 1,493 (81%) cases, the code was removed by the web hoster or domain holder within one day. For the other 346 domains, the deadline was not met, and the domain name was temporarily suspended to prevent further damage to website visitors. Some 264 (14%) of the infected websites were cleaned of malicious code, with the remaining 82 domain names having to be reactivated after five days, the maximum suspension time by law. A request for identification was sent to the holders of all 82 domains, resulting in an additional 59 (3.2%) of websites being cleaned. A total of 23 (1.3% of all notified) domain names were deleted after 30 days because the domain holder failed to respond to the identification request.

malware2015_E

Compromised .ch and .li websites used for drive-by infections by quarter

Continue reading


Swiss economy makes online security its priority

Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world. To make also the Internet a secure place in Switzerland, the Swiss online economy has started the Swiss Internet Security Alliance (SISA). The goal of the alliance is to make Switzerland the “cleanest” Internet country in the world! The organization launched an online security check today which allows internet users to clean and protect their systems.

Offering more security
The founding of the Swiss Internet Security Alliance is a sign of its members’ commitment to making the Internet a secure place in Switzerland. The association brings together expert knowledge from representatives of various sectors and promotes information-sharing amongst competitors.

Overcoming challenges together
The Swiss Internet Security Alliance focuses on its main assets – the knowledge, experience and technical expertise of its members. Its members asut, Centralway, credit suisse, cyscon Schweiz, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Hostpoint, Migros Bank, PostFinance, Raiffeisen, Sunrise, Swisscard, Swisscom, SWITCH, UBS, upc cablecom and Viseca have longstanding experience in dealing with online security.  The association is open to other interested parties. More information can be found in the press release:

https://www.switch.ch/about/news/2014/sisa.html

Comprehensive security check
Upon founding the association, the Swiss Internet Security Alliance is launching a security check. The Swiss Security Check provides protection on three levels.

  1. Users with outdated or incorrectly configured software who are therefore subject to a security risk, will find this out within seconds.
  2. If there is suspicion of malware, the malware cleaner helps with the diagnosis and resolution of the problems.
  3. A cyber vaccine completes the protection and keeps electronic pests at bay.

 

The Swiss Security Check is free and can be accessed here:
http://www.swiss-isa.ch

 

Please follow @swiss_isa on Twitter!


DNS Hijacking nimmt zu

Internetbenutzer die den Domainnamen nytimes.com in der Navigationsleiste ihres Browsers eingegeben hatten, sahen gestern für sechs Stunden nicht etwa die Webseite der Zeitung, sondern eine Seite der “Syrian Electronic Army” oder eine Fehlermeldung. Wie die Los Angeles Times berichtet, wurden die Zugriffs-Credentials eines Resellers von Melbourne IT missbraucht um die DNS-Einträge für nytimes.com zu ändern und die Besucher so auf einen anderen Webserver zu leiten.

Angriffe über das Domain Name System (DNS) häufen sich in der letzten Zeit. Statt eine gut gesicherte Webseite zu hacken, versuchen Kriminelle den Domainnamen auf den eigenen Server umzuleiten. Der Web-Traffic ist viel wert, sei es für Propaganda, wie im Fall der Syrian Electronic Army, oder für kriminelle Zwecke, wie das Verteilen von Malware, Clickfraud oder zur Search Engine Optimierung.

Statt einzelne DNS-Server zu hacken, versuchen die Kriminellen verstärkt, Registries, Registrare und Reseller von Domainnamen anzugreifen. Gelingt es ihnen in die Systeme oder an Credentials zu gelangen, können so oft gleich tausende von Domainnamen auf den eigenen Server umgeleitet werden. Prominente Opfer sind vor allem viel besuchte Webseiten wie Suchmaschinen oder Nachrichtenportale.

Auch Schweizer Domainnamen waren in der vergangenen Woche von falschen DNS Antworten betroffen. Continue reading


CSIRTs – Sharing to Win

Einbrüche in Datenbanken, gestohlene persönliche Daten, manipulierte Transaktionen im E-Banking, Eingriffe von staatlichen Akteuren in die Kommunikation im Internet und Angriffe auf die Verfügbarkeit von Diensten: Fast täglich wird mittlerweile über diese Sicherheitsvorfälle in den Medien berichtet.

Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) sind mit die Ersten, die auf solche Vorfälle reagieren und versuchen, Gegenmassnahmen zu treffen. Im Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) sind weltweit rund 240 dieser Teams aus der Industrie, von Regierungen und Akademischen Institutionen zusammengeschlossen, das SWITCH-CERT ist eines davon.

Continue reading