DNS Hijacking: Detection and Prevention Guide

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks
DNS Hijacking: Detection and Prevention Guide. Vpncilla android
DNS Hijacking: Detection and Prevention Guide. Vpncilla android

The Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Combating DNS Hijacking

In today’s digital age, the security of our online activities has never been more critical. Among the various threats lurking in the vastness of the internet, Domain Name System (DNS) hijacking emerges as a particularly insidious method used by attackers. This guide delves into the intricacies of DNS hijacking, exploring its mechanisms, implications, and the strategies we can employ to safeguard against it.

What Exactly is DNS?

Before we can fully grasp DNS hijacking, we must first understand the Domain Name System (DNS) itself. The DNS serves as the internet’s phonebook, translating human-friendly domain names into IP addresses that computers use to communicate with each other. When you type a website address into your browser, the DNS translates that into the numerical IP address of the website’s server. This process is fundamental to the functionality of the internet, making DNS a critical infrastructure component.

The Mechanics Behind DNS Hijacking

DNS hijacking, also known as DNS redirection, occurs when an attacker intercepts this translation process. The attacker diverts your request from the legitimate IP address to a different destination, often a malicious website. This interception can happen in several ways, including malware infecting a user’s computer, compromising the router, or even attacking the DNS server itself.

Local DNS Hijack

This form of hijacking begins with malware that alters the DNS settings on your personal computer. The malware redirects your DNS queries to a malicious DNS server. As a result, you might find yourself on phishing websites designed to steal your information.

Router DNS Hijack

Attackers exploit vulnerabilities in your router, changing its DNS settings. Consequently, all devices connected to the router are at risk of redirection to harmful sites. Regular firmware updates for your router are crucial in preventing such attacks.

Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) DNS Attacks

In MITM attacks, the hijacker intercepts the communication between you and your DNS server. The attacker can then redirect your traffic to fraudulent sites, a technique also known as DNS spoofing.

Rogue DNS Server Attacks

Attackers gain control of a DNS server, altering its records to redirect queries to malicious sites. This type of attack affects all users relying on the compromised DNS server.

Detecting DNS Hijacking

Identifying DNS hijacking involves vigilance and the right tools. Signs include slow website loading times, unexpected pop-ups, or being redirected to unfamiliar websites. However, these indicators are not foolproof. For a more definitive check:

  • Use the ping command to test if a non-existent domain name resolves to an IP address, which could indicate hijacking.
  • Employ router checker tools that compare your DNS server against a list of known, legitimate servers.
  • Utilize WhoIsMyDNS.com to verify the company owning the DNS servers your device is using. A mismatch might signal an issue.

Prevention Strategies for DNS Hijacking

Protecting against DNS hijacking requires a multi-faceted approach, catering to different aspects of your internet usage.

For General Internet Users

  • Secure Your Router: Change the default login credentials of your router to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Install Antivirus Software: Reliable antivirus software can detect and neutralize malware attempting to alter your DNS settings.
  • Use a VPN: A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and uses secure DNS servers, safeguarding your online activities from hijackers.
  • Opt for Alternative DNS Services: If your ISP’s DNS servers are compromised, consider switching to a reputable alternative like Google Public DNS.

For Name Servers and Resolvers

  • Firewall Protection: Ensure legitimate resolvers are protected behind a firewall to block unauthorized access.
  • Patch Vulnerabilities: Regularly update your DNS software to protect against known exploits.
  • Separate Functions: Keep authoritative name servers and DNS resolvers separate to minimize the impact of potential attacks.

For Website Owners

  • Limit DNS Access: Only allow a select few, using two-factor authentication, to make changes to your DNS records.
  • Enable Client Lock: This feature prevents unauthorized changes to your DNS settings without explicit approval.
  • Adopt DNSSEC: Domain Name System Security Extensions add a layer of security, making it harder for attackers to forge DNS data.

Real-World Instances of DNS Hijacking

Several high-profile cases highlight the dangers of DNS hijacking:

  • The Sea Turtle Campaign: Targeting entities across the Middle East and North Africa, attackers redirected traffic to phishing sites to steal credentials.
  • Major Media Outlets Hijacked: In 2013, the Syrian Electronic Army hijacked the DNS of Twitter, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, among others.
  • The ICANN Attack: A Turkish hacker group redirected users of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a protest page in 2018.
  • WikiLeaks DNS Attack: In 2017, WikiLeaks’ DNS was compromised, redirecting visitors to a hoax site.

Frequently Asked Questions About DNS Hijacking

Is DNS Hijacking Common?

Yes, DNS hijacking is a prevalent form of attack due to the fundamental role of DNS in internet connectivity and the multiple vectors available for exploitation.

Can a VPN Protect Against DNS Hijacking?

Absolutely. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and uses its secure DNS servers, significantly reducing the risk of DNS hijacking.

What Harm Can DNS Hijacking Cause?

DNS hijacking can lead to personal data theft, malware infection, and exposure to fraudulent websites. It undermines the security and integrity of your internet experience.

How Does DNS Spoofing Differ From DNS Hijacking?

While both involve redirecting users to malicious sites, DNS spoofing specifically refers to poisoning the DNS cache with false information, whereas DNS hijacking encompasses a broader range of attack methods.

Can I Change My DNS Servers to Avoid Hijacking?

Yes, changing to secure, reputable DNS servers can enhance your protection against DNS hijacking. This is a straightforward process on most devices and operating systems.


DNS hijacking poses a significant threat to the security of our online activities. By understanding its mechanisms, staying vigilant for signs of hijacking, and employing robust prevention strategies, we can protect ourselves against this insidious form of attack. Remember, the integrity of your internet experience rests on the security of your DNS queries. Safeguarding against DNS hijacking is not just about protecting personal information; it’s about preserving the fundamental trustworthiness of the internet.

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