What is DNS hacking?
DNS hacking is a significant step up from cybersquatting in terms of the damage which can be caused. Rather than merely infringing on another business’s brand by deliberately registering domain names containing someone else’s business/brand name, DNS hacking actually involves the redirection of a business’s site traffic to another destination. This is usually done for one of two reasons: to steal site traffic, or to discredit a company.
High profile victims of DNS hacking
Victims include Vodafone and the National Geographic, both of whom had their users redirected to a “Turkish security site”. This compromised the websites’ security credentials and undoubtedly affected their customer bases.
How do the hackers do it?
The hackers have to locate and hack into the domain name registrar in order to gain access to the URL. Once they have successfully hacked the registrar, they can change the IP address (basically the destination of the domain name) so that the domain name points to another website.
Companies and organisations that have their website domain names hacked have 3 choices: They can 1) temporarily disable their website, 2) change their domain name and their provider, or 3) simply wait for the hack to be reversed. All three are potentially disastrous for businesses, particularly those relying on e-commerce for their income. Disabling your website means a period of time offline where your services, location and contact information will be unavailable to your customers. Changing your domain name and provider will inevitably impact on your traffic as the new site address will take time to become registered with search engines, causing a dip in the rankings. Waiting for the hack to be reversed by the domain provider is the worst option of all though as, whether it takes an hour or a day to reverse, every customer who tries to visit your site during that time frame will instantly lose confidence in your company website’s reliability – and by extension, in your company.
And how to prevent the DNS hackers?
There’s very little you can do other than choosing a reputable domain name provider. Yell use Nominet for all customer domain name purchases owing to their excellent security ratings.