How can you protect your operations from domain hijacking attacks?

In 2014, the owner of the website domain MLA.com lost all their traffic and transactions overnight because its domain name was hijacked and all visitors were redirected to a fabricated website. 

In addition to lost traffic, they also lost all administrative access to the website—next to nothing could be done to resolve the issue. 

While the owner eventually recovered access, it would entail a long, complex two-year process to do so. This doesn’t even account for the damage to the domain credibility and the business’ reputation. 

The incident is just one that highlights the perils and the very real threat domain name hijacking poses. Today, these attacks persist and are a significant threat to your operational continuity and reputation building efforts. 

At a time when consumers are hypervigilant about their data and privacy, and demand easy access to service providers, keeping your site secure needs to remain a top priority across your cybersecurity strategies. 

How have domain hijacking attacks evolved in the post-pandemic environment?

With the security world undergoing tremendous changes owing to COVID-19, domain hijacking has also evolved, posing new challenges and requirements for enterprise security teams. 

Traditionally, standard DNS attacks involved tunnelling, in which third parties hid malicious code inside DNS queries, which would pass through firewalls and security mechanisms. 

This meant that the core IT system would be infected with malware, compromising systems and exposing personal data.

DNS attacks, however, have evolved in light of the ongoing complexities of a worldwide pandemic. With employees working from home, third parties looking to access these systems aim to subtly manipulate users into sharing information through techniques such as DNS spoofing, hijacking, and cache poisoning.  

Furthermore, DNS amplification attacks, which are DDoS attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in DNS servers, have also become more frequent.

These trends indicate that the nature of the attack landscape is evolving, with incidents becoming much more sophisticated and much harder to detect. 

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How can organisations prevent domain hijacking? 

Post-COVID-19, domain-name attacks such as DNS hijacking will rely on tricking employees to share their details via successful social engineering attacks. 

Phishing allows third parties to access domain login details, giving them the authority to make admin-level changes, like altering DNS configurations. Moreover, unauthorised third parties can also exploit a domain register, putting owners at risk. 

Preventing domain name hijacking requires strict restrictions on administrative access and hiding sensitive data behind secure firewalls to ensure that no one gains undue access to your website. 

Today, effective cybersecurity on this front starts with a reliable DNS protection system. These systems are ideal for protecting your assets and resources from DDoS and other cyberattacks. 

The best way to prevent domain hijacking attacks, therefore, is to adopt sophisticated and layered cybersecurity measures. For example, incorporating real-time DNS monitoring into your strategies gives you better insight into your DNS surface, making it easier to detect any anomalies like unwanted traffic. 

Employee training is also integral for detecting and preventing domain hijacking. With so many employees working from home and accessing enterprise IT systems, educating them on signs of phishing attacks could prevent third parties from accessing DNS servers, reducing the likelihood of these incidents. 

Across all these measures, adopting a proactive approach to security is recommended because businesses are managing a much larger attack surface today. This means that several attack vectors need to be assessed, placing a significant strain on cybersecurity resources. 

To remedy this, a real-time, proactive approach to attack vector monitoring can be an effective strategy to pursue, especially given the AI-driven automation capabilities we have access to today.

Stay ahead of domain hijacking attacks for more powerful cybersecurity in the new normal

In an interconnected world, your domain name is one of your most precious digital assets. 

By giving it the protection it deserves, you save yourself from expending precious resources recovering access to your website in the event of a successful attack. These efforts also have a significant bearing on your reputation management.

To keep your domain name safe, prevent social engineering attacks and augment your cyber resilience amongst other security measures. 

Advanced cybersecurity tools, such as digital risk detection and remediation platforms, can help you achieve this with greater precision and insight.