DNS-based attacks ‘cost businesses more than $2M annually’  


EfficientIP, a provider of network services, today announced the results of its 2017 DNS Threat Survey. It explored the technical and behavioural causes for the rise in DNS threats and their potential effects to businesses across the world.

Major issues highlighted by the study in its third year, include a lack of awareness as to the variety of attacks, a failure to adapt security solutions to protect DNS and poor responses to vulnerability notifications. These concerns will not only be subject to regulatory changes, but also create a higher risk of data loss, downtime or compromised public image.

>See also: Securing DNS against threats from the Internet of Things

According to the report, carried out among 1,000 respondents across APAC, Europe and North America, 94% of respondents claim DNS security is critical for this business.

Yet, 76% of organisations have been subjected to a DNS attack in last 12 months and 32% suffered data theft. The report also estimated the yearly average costs of the damages caused by DNS attacks to be $2.236 million. The leading causes were malware (35%), DDoS (32%), cache poisoning (23%), DNS tunnelling (22%) or zero-day exploits (19%).

“The results once again highlight that despite the evolving threat landscape and the increase in cyber-attacks, organisations across the globe and their IT departments still don’t fully appreciate the risks from DNS-based attacks,” said David Williamson, CEO at EfficientIP.

“In less than a year, GDPR will come into effect, so organisations really need to start rethinking their security in order to manage today’s threats and save their business from fines of up to £20 million or 4% of global revenue”.

>See also: Hackers take down DNS infrastructure of Brazilian bank

Globally, the results varied widely. 39% of respondents from the UK and US demonstrated more awareness of the top 5 DNS-based attacks than Spain (38%), Australia (36%), Germany (32%) and France (27%), but less than India (50%) and Singapore (47%). In the UK, the attacks organisations are the most aware of include: DNS-based Malware (52%), DDoS (43%), DNS Tunnelling (39%), Cache Poisoning (34%) and Zero-Day Exploits (28%).

It also found that a quarter of organisations have been subjected to DDoS (26%) with 41% of those over 5Gb/sec, Cache Poisoning (25%) or zero-day attacks (25%) in the past year while almost a third have been vulnerable to phishing (32%) or DNS-based malware (29%) attacks.

Almost a third (31%) of organisations surveyed experienced Data Exfiltration via DNS. Of those, 16% had sensitive customer information stolen and 15% intellectual property stolen. This could be social security numbers, job assignments or even bank details.

An ever increasing threat, a third (34%) of those surveyed stated that they have experienced more than five attacks in the last 12 months.

By taking the measure of closing down affected applications to mitigate an attack, 38% of organisations achieved what the attacker intended to do. For 50% of those who experienced a DNS attack, it took more than six hours, almost a full business day to mitigate it, requiring more than four members of staff in 34% of cases which for many organisations may be their entire network security team.

>See also: 4 sectors vulnerable to IoT attacks in 2017

Most worryingly, many believe they are protected, but they are not. Almost all organisations (99%) did not apply the necessary security patches.


The following steps can be taken by organisations to ensure continuity of service and data protection for them, their users and clients:

1. Replace useless firewall and load balancers with purpose-built DNS security technology.

2. Keep their DNS security up to date by patching DNS servers more often.

3. Enhance their threat visibility by using deep DNS transaction analysis.


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...