Timeline: Kaminsky’s DNS vulnerability

Is the internet fatally flawed? IT PRO looks at how isolated attacks on Domain Name System servers have risen in profile to become one of the most talked about threats in 2008.

A vulnerability affecting the internet Domain Name System (DNS) discovered by Dan Kaminsky became the most high profile security threat of 2008.

He saw that there was a fatal flaw affecting the DNS - which translates web addresses to IP addresses. Users could be sent to malicious sites even if they typed in legitimate addresses and the potential for system-wide problems resulted in an unprecedented multi-vendor effort to create patches for the problem.

But DNS attacks are nothing new. The DNS looks to have problems which still haven't been fully solved, and we trace how the issue has progressed from isolated attacks to the story dominating security for the past couple of months.

February 2007: Hackers take aim at internet root serversAn attack was made on the DNS servers of three of the 13 computers that manage traffic on the internet in a 12-hour Denial of Service (DoS) attack. It was thought to be the one of the biggest seen in four years.

April 2007: New bug hits Windows DNS serviceVulnerability found in the Windows 2003 server which could allow hackers to take over servers and run remote code.

November 2007: DNS servers still vulnerableA study claims that although DNS servers are increasing and modernising, they are still vulnerable to attacks.

July 2008: DNS protection not good enoughDan Kaminsky claims that researchers are not providing enough protection for the DNS security hole which he discovered. Kaminsky's approach was different in that the fact it could speed up attacks and was more potent than seen previously. Kaminsky kept quiet about the flaw for six months, allowing a multi-vendor patch effort involving Microsoft, Sun and Cisco.

July 2008: DNS attacks 'imminent' warns MicrosoftMicrosoft warns that the publication of exploit code has increased the chance of attack.

August 2008: Apple's patch fails to fully protect against DNS flawApple's belated attempt to create a patch for the DNS system problem does not completely solve the problem, say experts.

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