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Many companies still vulnerable to DNS outage
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 03:09:49 -0500 (CDT)

http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/01/10/04/011004hnmice.xml

By Stacy Cowley 
October 4, 2001 3:20 am PT

EIGHT MONTHS AFTER a faulty router configuration led to a daylong
blackout of many Microsoft Web sites, 25 percent of Fortune 1000
company Web sites still have the same vulnerable DNS (Domain Name
System) network setup that led to the Microsoft outage, according to a
survey conducted by Icelandic DNS software maker Men & Mice.

DNS servers translate domain names into numeric IP addresses. When
those servers go down, users who type Web addresses -- such as
Microsoft.com and Hotmail.com -- can't connect to the intended
servers. Redundancy is key to protecting against outages; if a company
spreads its DNS servers out across several network segments, it is
better protected against failures such as the one that struck
Microsoft in January.

That much-publicized attack helped increase network administrators'
awareness of DNS vulnerabilities, but too many large enterprises are
still susceptible, said Men & Mice Chairman Jon Adalsteinsson.

Shortly after the Microsoft breakdown, Men & Mice surveyed the Web
site networks of Fortune 1000 companies and found that 38 percent of
the companies had all their DNS servers on the same network. That
number fell to 25 percent when the company conducted another survey in
May, Adalsteinsson said.

Last month's terrorist attacks prompted Men & Mice to conduct another
examination.

"We knew that there was a heavy dependence on the IT infrastructure in
the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. We thought it would be good to
check and see how this situation had improved," Adalsteinsson said.

He was alarmed to find that it hadn't improved at all: 250
multinational companies' Web sites are still at risk of virtually
shutting down if the single network segment housing their DNS servers
fails. Adalsteinsson declined to name which companies have vulnerable
configurations, but said the group includes "some household names."

"I guess the message is that the IT world has not learned from the
Microsoft disaster," Adalsteinsson said. "We have corporations
spending lots of money on putting redundancy and disaster recovery
[tools] in place for their Web severs, but they don't seem to realize
that without a properly redundant DNS setup, all that doesn't come
into play."

Fixing the problem isn't expensive, according to Adalsteinsson. "It
has nothing to do with cost. The problem is simply lack of awareness,"
he said. "The second problem is lack of know-how. Employees are not
trained well enough on DNS [issues]. It's not a sexy technology."



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