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Nearly Half of Enterprise Networks Show Evidence of DNS Tunneling

Nearly Half of Enterprise Networks Show Evidence of DNS Tunneling

Nearly Half of Enterprise Networks Show Evidence of DNS Tunneling

Infoblox Inc., the network control company, announced results of the Infoblox Security Assessment Report for the second quarter of 2016, which finds that 40 percent—nearly half—of files tested by Infoblox show evidence of DNS tunneling, a significant security threat that can indicate active malware or ongoing data exfiltration within an organization’s network.

Infoblox, an industry leader in securing Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure, offers free security assessments to customers and prospective customers, identifying outbound DNS queries inside an organization’s network that are attempting to reach known malicious or suspicious Internet locations (hostname). External threat data from these evaluations is anonymized and aggregated to produce the Infoblox Security Assessment Report.

In the second quarter of 2016, 559 files capturing DNS traffic were uploaded to Infoblox for assessment, coming from 248 customers across a wide range of industries and geographies. Infoblox found 66 percent of the files showed evidence of suspicious DNS activity.

One indicator that stands out in the second quarter report is the prevalence of DNS tunneling. Cybercriminals know that DNS is a well-established and trusted protocol, and have figured out that many organizations do not examine their DNS traffic for malicious activity.

DNS tunneling enables these cybercriminals to insert malware or pass stolen information into DNS queries, creating a covert communication channel that bypasses most firewalls. While there are quasi-legitimate uses of DNS tunneling, many instances of tunneling are malicious. There are also several off-the-shelf tunneling toolkits readily available on the Internet, so hackers don’t always need technical sophistication to mount DNS tunneling attacks. At the same time, DNS tunneling is often part of very sophisticated attacks, including those sponsored or directly managed by nation states. For example, the recently uncovered Project Sauron—a particularly advanced threat that is considered likely to have been sponsored by a government—uses DNS tunneling for data exfiltration.

Rod Rasmussen, vice president of cybersecurity at Infoblox said:

“In the physical world, burglars will go to the back door when you’ve reinforced and locked the front door. When you then secure the back door, they’ll climb in through a window. Cybersecurity is much the same. The widespread evidence of DNS tunneling uncovered by the Infoblox Security Assessment Report for the second quarter of 2016 shows cybercriminals at all levels are fully aware of the opportunity. Organizations can’t be fully secure unless they have tools in place to discover and prevent DNS tunneling.”

Among the specific security threats uncovered by Infoblox during the second quarter, ranked by percentage, are:

• Protocol anomalies – 48%
• DNS tunneling – 40%
• Botnets – 35%
• Amplification and reflection traffic – 17%
• Distributed denial of service (DDoS) traffic – 14%
• Ransomware – 13%

Rasmussen said:

“While these threats are serious, DNS can also be a powerful security enforcement point within the network. When suspicious DNS activity is detected, network administrators and security teams can use this information to quickly identify and remediate infected devices—and can use DNS firewalling as well to prevent malware inside the network from communicating with command-and-control servers.”

Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence through advanced technologies that analyze DNS traffic to help prevent data exfiltration; disrupt advanced persistent threat (APT) and malware communications; and provide context around attacks and infections on the network. More information on Infoblox security solutions is available at

The full Infoblox Security Assessment Report for the second quarter of 2016 is available by clicking here. Organisations seeking a free Infoblox security assessment should visit the Infoblox website by clicking here.

Click here to find out more about Infoblox

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