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How to Protect Yourself from Domain Hijacking and DNS Poisoning?

Roei Hazout
DNS Attacks
June 28, 2024

Use strong, unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, regularly update and monitor DNS records, and use a reputable domain registrar. 

Ensure DNS servers are secure, implement DNSSEC, use HTTPS, regularly clear DNS caches, and conduct regular DNS tests and monitoring to protect yourself from both domain hijacking and DNS poisoning. 

How DNS Hijacking Works

DNS hijacking occurs when an attacker takes control of your DNS settings, often by accessing your domain registrar account. 

This could lead to your website being redirected to another server, potentially stealing your data or harming your reputation.

How DNS Poisoning Works

DNS poisoning (or cache poisoning) involves corrupting the DNS cache on a DNS server. When you try to visit a legitimate site, you're instead directed to a fraudulent one. 

This type of attack can spread quickly and affect many users.

Steps to Protect Against DNS Hijacking

A lot of the protection happens through your registrars, but there are some steps for you to take as well. 

  1. Strong, Unique Passwords:
    • Use robust passwords for your domain registrar and DNS hosting accounts. Consider using a password manager to keep track of them.
  2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
    • Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for attackers to gain access to your accounts even if they have your password.
  3. Regularly Update and Monitor Your DNS Records:
    • Regularly check your DNS records for any unauthorized changes. You can use DNS hijacking tests to ensure your DNS settings haven't been tampered with.
  4. Use a Reputable Domain Registrar:
    • Choose a domain registrar with a strong security track record. Reputable registrars offer security features like registrar locks and notifications for account changes.

Steps to Protect Against DNS Poisoning

I remember when I first learned about the risks of DNS hijacking. I realized how easy it could be for someone to take over my domain if I wasn't careful. 

I immediately went through the steps to secure my accounts and felt much more confident knowing my domains were protected.

  1. Secure Your DNS Servers:
    • Ensure your DNS servers are patched and up-to-date. Vulnerable servers are easier targets for DNS poisoning attacks.
  2. DNSSEC Implementation:
    • Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) add a layer of security by enabling DNS responses to be verified for authenticity. This helps prevent DNS poisoning.
  3. Use Secure Connections:
    • Always use HTTPS to encrypt data between your browser and the server. This protects against man-in-the-middle attacks which could exploit DNS poisoning.
  4. Regular Cache Cleaning:
    • Regularly clear DNS caches on your local machines and servers to minimize the risk of poisoned cache data affecting your browsing.

Regular Testing and Monitoring

  1. DNS Hijacking Tests:
    • Conduct regular DNS hijacking tests to ensure your DNS configurations are correct and haven't been altered. Tools like DNSstuff or MXToolbox can help with these checks.
  2. Monitoring Tools:
    • Use monitoring tools to keep an eye on your DNS records. These tools can alert you to any unauthorized changes, allowing you to act quickly.

Educating Your Team

If you manage a team, make sure everyone understands the importance of DNS security. Regular training sessions on best practices can go a long way in preventing attacks.

Responding to an Attack

If you suspect you've been a victim of a DNS hijacking or poisoning attack, act quickly:

  1. Contact Your Registrar:
    • Immediately reach out to your domain registrar to regain control of your domain and update your security settings.
  2. Reset Passwords:
    • Change passwords for all related accounts, especially those connected to your DNS settings.
  3. Review Logs and Audit Trails:
    • Check your logs and audit trails to understand how the attack happened and what information might have been compromised.

Keeping Software Up-to-Date

Ensuring that all software, particularly DNS servers and related infrastructure, is up-to-date with the latest security patches is crucial. 

Outdated software is a common entry point for attackers.

Community and Professional Help

Join online communities and forums focused on cybersecurity to stay informed about the latest threats and protection strategies. 

Sometimes, professional help from a cybersecurity expert can provide additional peace of mind and protection.