The wolf of name street: Hijacking domains through their nameservers


The functionality and security of all domain names are contingent upon their nameservers. When these nameservers, or requests to them, are compromised, all domains that rely on them are affected. In this paper, we study the exploitation of configuration issues (typosquatting and outdated WHOIS records) and hardware errors (bitsquatting) to seize control over nameservers’ requests to hijack domains. We perform a large-scale analysis of 10,000 popular nameserver domains, in which we map out existing abuse and vulnerable entities. We confirm the capabilities of these attacks through real-world measurements. Overall, we find that over 12,000 domains are susceptible to near-immediate compromise, while 52.8M domains are being targeted by nameserver bitsquatters that respond with rogue IP addresses. Additionally, we determine that 1.28M domains are at risk of a denial-of-service attack by relying on an outdated nameserver.

Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security