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Breaking security controls using subdomain hijacking

Users obtain a domain name to establish a unique identity on the Internet. Domain names are not only used to serve names and addresses of computers and services but also to store security controls, such as SPF or CAA records. Many of the Internet protocols were designed at a time where built-in security was not a requirement. The IETF continues to standardize protocol extensions to address today’s security needs.

For some protocols security is added with controls stored in your domain names zone file. In order to have the desired effect, the pre-condition is of course that your domain name is secure. In other words, the security of your application that makes use of controls in DNS is only as secure as the security of your domain name.

Hijacking a domain name because of weak credentials at the registrar may get the job done but this is far from stealthy and will likely not last long. In many cases it is sufficient to hijack an abandoned subdomain. Taking over abandoned subdomains may be unnoticed by the owner for a very long period of time making it also very useful for targeted attacks.

Picture 1: update.ft.com has been hijacked and the content from the ft.com front page is mirrored with a fake article about subdomain hijacking. Note: the website is not online anymore, Financial Times has been notified to remove the abandoned record from their zone file. A Certificate Transparency (CT) log proves that a TLS certificate has been issued for this demo site.

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A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Family business: Petya and its derivatives sweep over half the world as a new wave of ransomware
  • Pay a ransom for your privacy: new «extortionware» exposes its victims
  • Positive use of metadata – Cisco can detect malware activity even in encrypted network traffic
  • Successful strike against the darknet drug and weapons trade – security services bust AlphaBay and Hansa

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


The December 2016 issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our monthly SWITCH Security Report has just been released.

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Power and cybercrime – massive quantities of user data stolen in two recent hacks
  • When supposed security add-ons actually spy on your browsing habits
  • Mirai part II – botnet knocks out 900,000 Telekom routers
  • It’s not all bad news – Avalanche botnet taken down

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


The December 2014 issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our monthly SWITCH Security Report has just been released.

The topics covered in this report are:

  • No «Land of the Free» in sight: NSA allowed to continue gathering data, BND puts forward EUR 300 million wish list
  • Censorship culture in the UK
  • The new PR: how parties, companies and organisations manipulate web chat to propagate opinions
  • Regin and the Detekt-ives: new software finds known government Trojans – Symantec discovers a new one
  • Generali cheaper: lower premiums in exchange for personal information
  • The Clipboard: Interesting Presentations, Articles and Videos

The Security Report is available in both english and german language.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.

 

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