Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

Client-Side DNS Attack Emerges From Academic Research

A new DNS cache poisoning attack is developed as part of the research toward a dissertation.

The rise of speculative execution side-channel vulnerabilities is having an interesting side effect: More researchers from academia are finding their names in CVEs and bounty notices, and, in turn, those from the security business side are finding themselves collaborating more with those academics. 

A recent DNS cache-poisoning attack that exploits a vulnerability found in mDNSResponder, a component used in name resolution in a variety of operating systems, illustrates one of the ways in which academic research is having an impact on commercial computing on a far faster cycle than the years typically associated with research and publication at universities.

A team of researchers, led by Ph.D. candidate Fatemah Alharbi, at the University of California, Riverside, discovered the attack as part of Alharbi's doctoral research. "We found that the client-side DNS cache poisoning attack has never been technically and practically studied before; thus, I decided to choose this project as my first project in my PhD study," Alharbi told Dark Reading in an email interview.

Alharbi's group began to research the possible attack on Android and Ubuntu Linux. Once they demonstrated a successful attack, they moved on to see whether the same vulnerability existed for MacOS and Windows.

"As expected, we found the needed vulnerability to launch the attack and succeeded in poisoning the DNS cache of these two operating systems as well," she said. "[As a result], one of the machine users can launch the attack and poisons the DNS cache (without any root or admin privileges) with a malicious DNS mapping. Since there is no complete isolation between users, another user (even the admin) visiting the same domain will end up visiting the webserver that is controlled by the attacker instead of the legitimate webserver."

The attack itself takes advantage of the fact that the OS DNS cache used by mDNSResponder is shared among all the users of a given machine — and that cache is generally without explicit protection. "Client devices are typically not considered to be part of the DNS hierarchy and therefore have not been considered by defenses against DNS cache poisoning," Alharbi said.

The research team disclosed the attack to the vendors and was recognized by Apple in the security notes for macOS Mojave 10.14.3, Security Update 2019-001 High Sierra, and Security Update 2019-001 Sierra. Aside from the mitigation that may come through operating system updates, there are few good options available on the client system.

"One easy and fast solution is to disable the DNS cache," Alharbi said. "The downside about this is that the client has to wait for the DNS response after the DNS resolution process is complete for each DNS query she sends."

Another downside, she noted, is that the dependence entirely on the DNS server (and the additional traffic that represents) could make the DNS resolver more vulnerable to DDoS attacks.

The paper describing the attack and potential remediation will be published in the proceedings of IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM) 2019, in Paris this May.

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
How a Manufacturing Firm Recovered from a Devastating Ransomware Attack
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  5/20/2019
TeamViewer Admits Breach from 2016
Dark Reading Staff 5/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Could you pass the hash, I really have to use the bathroom!
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-9892
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
An issue was discovered in Open Ticket Request System (OTRS) 5.x through 5.0.34, 6.x through 6.0.17, and 7.x through 7.0.6. An attacker who is logged into OTRS as an agent user with appropriate permissions may try to import carefully crafted Report Statistics XML that will result in reading of arbit...
CVE-2019-10066
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
An issue was discovered in Open Ticket Request System (OTRS) 7.x through 7.0.6, Community Edition 6.0.x through 6.0.17, and OTRSAppointmentCalendar 5.0.x through 5.0.12. An attacker who is logged into OTRS as an agent with appropriate permissions may create a carefully crafted calendar appointment i...
CVE-2019-10067
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-22
An issue was discovered in Open Ticket Request System (OTRS) 7.x through 7.0.6 and Community Edition 5.0.x through 5.0.35 and 6.0.x through 6.0.17. An attacker who is logged into OTRS as an agent user with appropriate permissions may manipulate the URL to cause execution of JavaScript in the context...
CVE-2019-6513
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
An issue was discovered in WSO2 API Manager 2.6.0. It is possible for a logged-in user to upload, as API documentation, any type of file by changing the extension to an allowed one.
CVE-2019-12270
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-21
OpenText Brava! Enterprise and Brava! Server 7.5 through 16.4 configure excessive permissions by default on Windows. During installation, a displaylistcache file share is created on the Windows server with full read and write permissions for the Everyone group at both the NTFS and Share levels. The ...