What is DNSSEC and Why Is It Important?

If you’re like most companies, you probably leave your DNS resolution up to your ISP. But as employees bypass the VPN, and even more organizations adopt direct internet access, it’s more than likely that you have a DNS blind spot. So what steps can you take to ensure your visibility remains free and clear?

One simple and easy thing you can start doing right away is to mine your DNS data. Each time a browser contacts a domain name, it has to contact the DNS server first. Since DNS requests precede the IP connection, DNS resolvers log requested domains regardless of the connection’s protocol or port. That’s an information gold mine! Just by monitoring DNS requests and subsequent IP connections you will eliminate the blind spot and easily gain better accuracy and detection of compromised systems and improve your security visibility and network protection.

But what about those pesky cache poisoning attacks, also known as DNS spoofing?

DNS cache poisoning attacks locate and then exploit vulnerabilities that exist in the DNS, in order to draw organic traffic away from a legitimate server toward a fake one.This type of attack is dangerous because the client an be redirected, and since the attack is on the DNS server, it will impact a very large number of users.

Back in the early nineties, the era of the world-wide-web, Sony Discmans and beepers (we’ve come a long way kids!), the Internet Engineering Task Force, or  IETF started thinking about ways to make DNS more secure. The task force proposed ways to harden DNS and in 2005, Domain Name System Security Extensions, aka DNSSEC, was formally introduced.

DNS Security Extensions, better known as DNSSEC, is a technology that was developed to, among other things, protect against [cache poisoning] attacks by digitally ‘signing’ data so you can be assured [the DNS answer] is valid. DNSSEC uses cryptographic signatures similar to using GPG to sign an email; it proves both the validity of the answer and the identity of the signer. Special records are published in the DNS allowing recursive resolvers or clients to validate signatures. There is no central certificate authority, instead parent zones provide certificate hash information in the delegation allowing for proof of validity.

Cisco Umbrella now supports DNSSEC by performing validation on queries sent from Umbrella resolvers to upstream authorities. Customers can have the confidence that Cisco Umbrella is protecting their organization from cache poisoning attacks, without having to perform validation locally.

Cisco Umbrella supports DNSSEC

Cisco Umbrella delivers the best, most reliable, and fastest internet experience to every single one of our more than 100 million users. We are the leading provider of network security and DNS services, enabling the world to connect to the internet with confidence on any device.

Get the details on how Cisco Umbrella supports DNSSEC.


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