DNSSEC – the forgotten security asset?

An interesting article from CIO Online last month explained how DNS had been used to identify over 700 instances of a managed service provider’s customers being infected with malware. The MSP was able to determine the malware using DNS. As the article points out, a thirty year old technology was being used to defeat twenty-first century computer problems. In short DNS may be a viable means of identifying infections within networks quicker, because as well as security apps relying on DNS, the attackers do as well. DNS however still comes with its own unique security approach.

The signature checking procedures outlined in the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) specifications were deemed adequate for the protocols surrounding domain resolution. While the certificates offer security that is authenticated, the data is not encrypted, meaning that data is not confidential. The other problem with DNSSEC is that in the event of Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) DNS Amplification attack on a DNS server, the processing of validation requests adds to the processor usage and contributes to slowdown.

DNSSEC does, however, provide protection against cache poisoning and other malicious activities and remains part of the network security arsenal. At F5, our solution for the DNSSEC load problem was to integrate our DNSSEC to our BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager. The traffic manager handles all of the overhead processing requirements created during a DDOS DNS Amplification attack. The result is that the DNS Server can be left to function with no performance limitation. On top of this the F5 solution is fully compliant with international DNSSEC regulations imposed by governments, organisations and domain registrars.

While DNSSEC may seem mature and even outdated for its security specifications, the correct application of technology, such as F5’s BIG-IP Global Traffic Manager delivers peace of mind over security, performance, resource and centralised management of your DNS.

Published Nov 20, 2012
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