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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/28/2016
05:30 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

And Now A PREDATOR To Fight DNS Domain Abuse

Researchers at Princeton and elsewhere demo a new tool for spotting people registering domains for malicious purposes.

Security researchers at Princeton University, Google, and three other organizations have developed a software tool designed to let domain name registration companies detect and block people attempting to register domains intended for malicious purposes.

The researchers provided details of the new Proactive Recognition and Elimination of Domain Abuse at Time-Of-Registration (PREDATOR) in a technical paper presented at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security this week.

They described the tool as an evolution of existing domain reputation systems that work by first observing domain use and then assigning a reputation score to it based on type of content hosted and other factors.

The goal with PREDATOR is to equip security professional and domain registrars with the ability to do such reputation scoring before the actual domain registration takes place by observing and evaluating so-called time-of-registration features.

"The intuition has always been that the way that malicious actors use online resources somehow differs fundamentally from the way legitimate actors use them," Nick Feamster, acting director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy said in a statement announcing PREDATOR.

"We were looking for those signals: what is it about a domain name that makes it automatically identifiable as a bad domain name?"

Early evaluations of the tool using registration logs of .com and .net domains over a five-month period showed it to achieve a 70% detection rate and a false-positive rate of 0.35%, the researchers claimed in the paper. The results suggest the tool offers an effective and early first line of defense against DNS domain misuse, they noted. “It predicts malicious domains when they are registered, which is typically days or weeks earlier than existing DNS blacklists.”

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of California, Berkeley, Google, the International Computer Science Institute and Princeton University contributed to PREDATOR.

The work on PREDATOR builds on previous research focused on evaluating DNS preregistration data to predict future DNS traffic, says Feamster in comments to Dark Reading. He pointed to a patent that Verisign filed in 2012 as one example of previous work in this area.

The idea is to make it harder for threat actors to register websites for sending spam, for launching phishing and denial-of-service campaigns and other malicious activities. Cybercriminals routinely register thousands of domains on a daily basis for such purposes.

The Anti-Phishing Work Group for instance counted nearly 630,500 sites being used for phishing alone between Q1 and Q3 last year, with the US hosting the most number of such sites.

Others have worked to fight domain name abuse in different ways. Recently, researchers at Georgia Tech for instance demonstrated a method for spotting attackers hiding behind reputable domains or hijacking domains previously associated with malicious uses. Last year, internet pioneer Paul Vixie proposed introducing a short waiting period between when a domain is registered and when it goes live, to deter abuse.

Current blacklisting tools only allow for after-the-fact action. So criminals are able to launch new domains to support their activities almost as quickly as old ones are taken down. “If we can identify in advance that a DNS domain name is going to be used for malicious purposes we could prevent it from being registered,” Feamster says.

People registering domain names with malicious intent often exhibit certain behaviors, he says. For example, someone planning on using domain names in an attack campaign might register hundreds and even thousands of domains over a very small window of time. Similarly, it is not unusual for such domains to have names that are not necessarily human readable or names that are minor variations of a single name, he says.

By detecting such patterns and blocking automatic domain registration until vetting takes place, registrars can make it much harder for malicious actors to abuse DNS domains, Feamster says.

The hope is to be able to make the technology commercially available eventually, he adds.

Related stories:

 

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
TimTonne
50%
50%
TimTonne,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/21/2017 | 6:55:30 AM
achja
nnn
bradprat
50%
50%
bradprat,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/14/2017 | 7:52:16 PM
Re: Bollywood story
It is no longer safe
juliazz
50%
50%
juliazz,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/26/2017 | 7:06:34 AM
here
I get a DNs abuse and its not funny at all... Thx for the post
Benefiter
50%
50%
Benefiter,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/2/2016 | 4:55:52 PM
Re: here I got the tips!
It's actually a cool and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
tomysong
50%
50%
tomysong,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/2/2016 | 2:16:43 PM
here
I don't even know how I stopped up right here, but I believed this submit used to be good. I do not recognize who you might be however certainly you're going to a famous blogger in the event you aren't already. Cheers!
amiee
50%
50%
amiee,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/1/2016 | 6:45:21 PM
here I got the tips!
Its like you learn my mind! You seem to understand a lot about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you could do with some percent to pressure the message house a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I'll certainly be back.
kasstri
100%
0%
kasstri,
User Rank: Strategist
11/1/2016 | 5:04:39 PM
thanks
I have learn several good stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much attempt you set to create this sort of magnificent informative site.
jalair105
50%
50%
jalair105,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/31/2016 | 9:31:47 AM
Food for thought
Interesting name for this process. Have any safeguards been thought of before a "Government or Political NGO" decides that the "malicious actors" with an alternative viewpoint should not be on the web.
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
US Mayors Commit to Just Saying No to Ransomware
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/16/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
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
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-17210
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in PrinterOn Central Print Services (CPS) through 4.1.4. The core components that create and launch a print job do not perform complete verification of the session cookie that is supplied to them. As a result, an attacker with guest/pseudo-guest level permissions can bypass t...
CVE-2019-12934
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered in the wp-code-highlightjs plugin through 0.6.2 for WordPress. wp-admin/options-general.php?page=wp-code-highlight-js allows CSRF, as demonstrated by an XSS payload in the hljs_additional_css parameter.
CVE-2019-9229
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-20
An issue was discovered on AudioCodes Mediant 500L-MSBR, 500-MBSR, M800B-MSBR and 800C-MSBR devices with firmware versions F7.20A to F7.20A.251. An internal interface exposed to the link-local address 169.254.254.253 allows attackers in the local network to access multiple quagga VTYs. Attackers can...
CVE-2019-12815
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
An arbitrary file copy vulnerability in mod_copy in ProFTPD up to 1.3.5b allows for remote code execution and information disclosure without authentication, a related issue to CVE-2015-3306.
CVE-2019-13569
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-19
A SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Icegram Email Subscribers & Newsletters plugin through 4.1.7 for WordPress. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability would allow a remote attacker to execute arbitrary SQL commands on the affected system.