Most people tend to be a little security conscious when it comes to browsing the internet. The most obvious way to try and prevent security problems is to use anti-virus and security software on your PC. While this may protect your machine from being infected and becoming a malware host, it still does not address all of the potential security problems. Security researchers in Europe discovered that . This was done by exploiting known vulnerabilities in many popular wireless network routers to setup what is known as a man-in-the middle attack. Users can prevent such attacks on their own home network by securing their routers in addition to their PCs.
How The Attack Worked
Every router on the market comes with a default setup that includes a basic login and password to change the settings on it. This is done so that users can quickly and easily get up and running. The problem is that many people do not change this when they setup their router. This means that someone who can access the router and knows the default username and password can get in and change the settings.
In this case, the hackers went in and modified the DNS servers that would be called to translate the URL names to the IP addresses. Instead of using a trusted DNS to get the IP of the bank in question, the hacked router would use a tainted DNS to give a different IP address that would play the middle man. Users would still see the bank site but all their data was flowing through the server between them to record sensitive information. By doing this, the hackers could get access to bank accounts. Similar methods could be used to secure credit card information from online retail sites as well.
Ways to Prevent Such Attacks
There are two areas that you can prevent this type of attack from happening to you. The first is securing your home router through four steps:
- Change the default username and password to administer the router settings.
- Make sure you are running the latest firmware to address any security holes.
- Disable the ability to change the router settings from the internet or WAN ports.
- Be sure to use some form of Wi-Fi security with passwords for your home network to control who has access to your network.
Each router manufacturer and even models may have different interfaces for make the required changes to secure your home network. Be sure to read the documentation that came with the router or from the manufacturer to make the appropriate changes.
In addition to the securing of your router, you also want to take a few steps with your PC’s as well. If you have a laptop or mobile device that connects into public access points, you also want to be aware of what it is doing on them as well to prevent such a DNS attack. You can alter this by adjusting your IP settings of the PC or device to use a trusted public DNS server. For instance, you can configure it to use which would bypass the DNS provided by the public Wi-Fi. This won’t always work as some networks block external DNS requests but most will still allow it. You can even configure your own routers to use this rather than ISP supplied DNS if you so desire.