Any business wanting to survive, compete, and prosper in today’s world needs to take cyber-security seriously. A lot of business is done online these days, with vast quantities of business files and customer data stored on the average company’s network and countless transactions and transfers taking place between connected devices across the globe.
As has been proven by the plethora of high-profile data breaches, leaks, and cyber-attacks in recent years, there are many digital threats out there for your company to be wary of. Data can be stolen, systems can be infiltrated, entire networks can be held at ransom, and companies can be brought to their knees by the actions of hackers and cyber-criminals.
Investing in solid security is therefore an absolute must, and one of the key areas you simply have to protect is the DNS. The veritable ‘phone book of the internet’, the DNS plays an integral role in establishing connections between devices and allowing them to communicate. Without it, the internet as we know it would simply fall apart.
Thanks to this, the DNS is a popular target for hackers and attackers, and those who manage to break into a company’s DNS can access sensitive files, steal customer data, take websites entirely offline, and much more besides. This guide will help you understand what the DNS is, how it works, why it’s such a big target, and how you can keep it safe.
What Is the DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name System, and this is one of the most critical parts of any form of IT infrastructure. It’s often compared to a phone book, due to the way it functions, helping to connect devices and establish connections throughout networks.
In order to understand the DNS, we have to understand the simple premise of internet functionality. When you want to visit Google, you’ll open up your internet browser, type ‘Google.com’ into the address bar, and hit the Enter key.
However, while humans make use of these URL addresses and website names to navigate the internet, machines use a different language – the language of IP addresses. Every device has its own IP address, a numerical code that identifies it to others.
So when you type ‘Google.com’ into the URL bar, the DNS works to translate that input into its IP equivalent, allowing the relevant devices to establish a connection. Thanks to all of this, the DNS is basically what allows us to access sites, emails, applications, services, and so on.
What Is DNS Security?
DNS protection or security is designed to offer additional layers of defenses for networks and users, designed to maintain the integrity and availability of DNS services and responding to any threats or security issues around the network.
According to EfficientIP, enterprise DNS security solutions can help to ensure business continuity, protect customer data, preserve a brand’s reputation, build customer trust, deliver speedy ROI, and much more, so investing in DNS security can make a massive difference.
DNS protection comes in many forms and can include many features, such as:
- Content Filtering – This DNS security feature works to block certain sites, like adult content sites or sites that host dangerous content, via the DNS, preventing employees in your business from accidentally or intentionally visiting these kinds of sites.
- Malware Blocking – DNS security can also be configured to block sites that may add viruses, scams, and malware onto your devices, acting as an additional layer of security against these kinds of online threats.
- Phishing Blocking – DNS security can also be configured to work against phishing attacks, helping to block sites that are commonly used in phishing attempts to try and trick users into sharing personal data or passwords.
- Ad Blocking – Advertisements may seem harmless at first glance, but can be used to collect information about employees or may even content malicious applications within them, as well as reducing the overall efficiency and performance of your systems.
- Botnets – Hackers often make use of vast quantities of bots, which are essentially infected devices that they can remotely control. Grouped together, these bots form botnets, which can be used for DDoS attacks and other DNS attacks. DNS security can help to keep you safe against botnets.
- Threat Detection – The best DNS security solutions are able to make use of analytics and intelligent programs to detect threats and risks of attacks before they even happen, giving you time to respond, prepare, and protect yourself.
- Complete Protection – Top tier DNS solutions can also work to protect your networks and devices against many different types of DNS attacks, including zero-day vulnerability exploits, DNS hijacking, DNS tunneling, and so on.
Why Is the DNS a Common Cyber-Attack Target?
DNS is one of the most common targets selected by hackers and cyber criminals. There are several reasons for this. One of the main reasons is the fact that the DNS is simply so crucial for online connections. If it goes down or gets overloaded or interfered with in some way, entire networks can be knocked offline, ruining user experiences, costing companies vast amounts of revenue, and even giving hackers backdoor access to your networks to steal your data.
Another reason why DNS attacks are so prevalent is the fact that the DNS often has quite poor security. DNS was created many years ago, back before the concepts of malware, viruses, and hacking had evolved to the point they’re at nowadays. DNS, therefore, works without much in the way of authentication or encryption, simply accepting and resolving requests as they come. This makes it very easy for hackers to exploit the DNS.
Overall, it’s clear to see that DNS attacks can be very dangerous and costly too, with some of the most severe instances even able to bring entire networks and companies crashing down. If you want to protect your business against these kinds of threats, it’s vital to take action and invest in DNS security solutions you can trust.