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Attacks/Breaches

4/28/2016
12:00 PM
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10 Newsmakers Who Shaped Security In the Past Decade

In celebration of Dark Reading's 10th anniversary, we profile ten people whose actions influenced and shaped the trajectory of the industry - for better or for worse -- in the past ten years.
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Dan Kaminsky
Near DNS Disaster

It all started with exploring how to make content delivery networks faster. Researcher Dan Kaminsky was noodling with his friend Artur Bergman (now founder & CEO of Fastly) on how to make those platforms faster by getting the Domain Name System (DNS) -- the Internet's phone book of sorts that translates computer host names to IP addresses -- to use faster servers. Pretty soon, Kaminsky realized he had stumbled upon more than just a trick to speed up the Net: he had also found an epic and very dangerous design flaw in the DNS. The so-called cache poisoning flaw lets an attacker 'guess' the transaction identity of an address query and use a similar name, and then reroute the user to a malicious domain.

So in July of 2008, Kaminsky helped coordinate an unprecedented multi-vendor patching effort to protect DNS servers from the flaw, which could not only be used to impersonate web servers but also to capture email from message servers. The patch doesn't technically fix the flaw, which is inherent in DNS's DNA, but it adds a port randomization factor to the address query that makes it more difficult for attackers to hijack a query.

'When I realized the power of bypassing the cache time through 'sibling' names, I was like 'no, that can't work,'' Kaminsky recalls of his find. 'And then it did.'

Kaminsky's newest project is IronFrame, a solution to eradicate so-called clickjacking attacks on websites. Clickjacking is where concealed and malicious content and links on a website are layered atop legitimate ones, unbeknownst to the user and the website operator. That means a user can be silently redirected to malicious sites or content. 

Kaminsky's solution basically ensures that the original content is rendered by the browser, not by any content layered atop it by bad guys. His hope is that it will be adopted as a security standard.

Image Source: Dan Kaminsky

Dan Kaminsky

Near DNS Disaster

It all started with exploring how to make content delivery networks faster. Researcher Dan Kaminsky was noodling with his friend Artur Bergman (now founder & CEO of Fastly) on how to make those platforms faster by getting the Domain Name System (DNS) -- the Internets phone book of sorts that translates computer host names to IP addresses -- to use faster servers. Pretty soon, Kaminsky realized he had stumbled upon more than just a trick to speed up the Net: he had also found an epic and very dangerous design flaw in the DNS. The so-called cache poisoning flaw lets an attacker guess the transaction identity of an address query and use a similar name, and then reroute the user to a malicious domain.

So in July of 2008, Kaminsky helped coordinate an unprecedented multi-vendor patching effort to protect DNS servers from the flaw, which could not only be used to impersonate web servers but also to capture email from message servers. The patch doesnt technically fix the flaw, which is inherent in DNSs DNA, but it adds a port randomization factor to the address query that makes it more difficult for attackers to hijack a query.

When I realized the power of bypassing the cache time through sibling names, I was like no, that cant work, Kaminsky recalls of his find. And then it did.

Kaminskys newest project is IronFrame, a solution to eradicate so-called clickjacking attacks on websites. Clickjacking is where concealed and malicious content and links on a website are layered atop legitimate ones, unbeknownst to the user and the website operator. That means a user can be silently redirected to malicious sites or content.

Kaminsky's solution basically ensures that the original content is rendered by the browser, not by any content layered atop it by bad guys. His hope is that it will be adopted as a security standard.

Image Source: Dan Kaminsky

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