Unveiling the Link Between Domain Flushing and Cybersecurity
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
Domain fluxing in cybersecurity refers to a method used by cybercriminals to cloak malicious websites behind an array of compromised hosts, making them difficult to detect and eliminate.
Cybercriminals use botnets to continuously rotate IP addresses, enabling them to send phishing or malware attacks without detection by security vendors.
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Domain fluxing is a type of cyberattack that involves altering the IP address associated with a malicious domain name, making it difficult for cybersecurity researchers and law enforcement agencies to pinpoint who launched it.
Cybercriminals often employ this tactic to avoid detection by blocklists, signature filters, reputation systems, intrusion prevention systems, and security gateways. Furthermore, it’s a popular method for sidestepping botnet command-and-control servers.
Cybercriminals often employ multiple IP addresses and a domain name they control to conceal the source of an attack. Shifting each address after some time makes it impossible to pinpoint its origin, allowing cybercriminals to use compromised hosts as staging grounds for phishing campaigns, malware distribution, and other types of activities that are difficult to detect.
Cybercriminals often employ fast flux to avoid law enforcement detection and conceal their true command and control (C&C) server from other security systems. This technique serves two primary purposes.
It is essential to be aware that domain-changing strategies are nothing new; they were first identified by security researchers in 2007 during the Honeynet Project. Nonetheless, their continued use today poses a grave concern for cybersecurity professionals.
Furthermore, domain-based defense is ineffective, which explains why cybercriminals use it to circumvent security professionals. The most reliable method for combatting these networks is simple: take down the domain name.
Another way to combat domain-changing cyberattacks is DNS filtering. Network administrators can require users to use their own DNS servers and blackhole queries for domains they suspect of being malicious, thus preventing cyber criminals from redirecting traffic towards their servers and sidestepping security measures. This will keep information out of the wrong hands.
Another approach to protecting against domain-altering malware is installing antivirus software on compromised computers. This not only shields the machine from potential infection but also stops cybercriminals from using it as a relay for traffic to their real command and control server.
Fast fluxing is a cybersecurity technique that involves associating several IP addresses with one domain name and rapidly changing out these addresses. These tactics are frequently employed by botnets to hide their true source of malicious activity, creating an uphill battle between attackers and security professionals who cannot easily track down these networks.
The idea behind this strategy is that by changing IP addresses frequently, cybercriminals can mask their activities and keep websites up and running. This makes it easier for cybercriminals to launch phishing attacks, sell stolen credit card information, and engage in other illegal activities.
A compromised host can send a request to a C2 server via the internet, and that server, in turn, routes it to one of thousands of fast-flux agents within its network (see Figure 2). This type of system is highly resilient since there is no single point of failure.
Fast-flux agents will periodically cycle in and out of a pool of IP addresses associated with their C2 server at high frequencies – sometimes once every five minutes. This creates an ever-shifting network of compromised hosts known as a botnet.
Akamai’s Cloud Security Intelligence team recently identified an expansive fast flux network associated with over 14 thousand IP addresses. This was an intricate botnet infrastructure, concealing its command and control centers behind a web of compromised hosts acting as proxies.
To detect fast-flux networks, it is essential to use algorithms that can recognize the distinct attributes of a fast-flux network and distinguish it from legitimate ones. Doing this helps avoid false positives.
At present, there are various methods available to detect fast-flux networks and prevent them from being exploited by cybercriminals. These include passive and active detection techniques, real-time detection approaches, as well as cloud computing methods.
Domain fluxing is a cybercriminal technique that enables malware to spread rapidly and undetected. It allows botnets to shift their IP addresses from host to host within minutes, using compromised hosts as proxies.
Proxies can be employed to send commands, deliver malicious files, intercept, and exfiltrate data, and conceal the source of phishing attacks and malware attacks, making it harder for authorities to detect and shut down.
Fast flux is a type of domain name fluxing used in cybersecurity that uses DNS to quickly alter the address associated with a website. This approach utilizes round-robin IP addresses and short Time-To-Live (TTL) values for each website’s DNS resource record.
The purpose is for web users to visit a particular URL as often as possible, but the domain name will change to another IP address during the time it takes for a browser to connect. This allows malicious domains to appear legitimate and steal credentials and other information from users upon each connection.
Depending on the domain type, networks may use multiple IP addresses associated with one domain. This practice, known as double flux, makes taking down the entire domain much harder since each IP address will have access to the actual authoritative domain servers that handle DNS resolution.
This highly sophisticated technique makes it more difficult for security researchers to detect and take down malicious domains. Additionally, users may struggle with recognizing and eliminating their infected malware since they may not be able to differentiate between a malicious domain and its legitimate counterpart.
Double-flux domains are those that use both DNS NS and A records of a domain to rapidly change its IP address. They may even employ bots to host fake authoritative name servers that direct DNS queries to the real domain.
By doing this, the attacker can continue managing her compromised hosts and the underlying network without interruption. This poses a huge challenge for law enforcement trying to take down the malware since it could potentially result in many compromised hosts that compromise all infrastructure that protects your computer – especially if it’s located at a sensitive location such as an airport or hospital.
Domain fluxing is a tactic used by cybercriminals to hide botnets and phishing attacks. It involves rapidly shifting among compromised hosts acting as proxies in an effort to delay or avoid detection.
Wikipedia notes that this technique has been around since 2007 as part of the Honeynet Project, but it continues to cause havoc on the internet as law enforcement and security researchers attempt to contain it.
This technique works by having numerous IP addresses associated with a single domain name and changing DNS records quickly (within minutes or seconds). Each address is registered and then immediately deregistered, meaning they only remain active for a short time before being replaced by new ones.
Therefore, it can be challenging to put an end to this technique and identify the source of any malicious activity on a domain. That is why having an effective system in place that can monitor fast changes in real time is so essential.
DNS monitoring software enables administrators to detect whether any of their networks have been infected with fast fluxing techniques. Furthermore, they can use DNS filtering software to protect their networks from these threats.
Another way to combat this type of malware is by installing a firewall that blocks fast-evolving techniques from entering their network. This helps administrators thwart botnets and cybercriminal networks, which pose major threats to enterprises.
Finally, organizations should consider implementing a DNS Security solution that can filter and scan all traffic on their network for malicious domains. This can disrupt 85% of malware that utilizes the Domain Name System (DNS) to launch attacks against their system.
Protecting an organization against the latest threats and taking control of its DNS traffic is a necessary step. Learn more about how Palo Alto Networks can keep you protected against DNS-layer threats.
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