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Security Researcher Kaminsky Pushes DNS Patching 57

BobB-nw writes "Dan Kaminsky, who for years was ambivalent about securing DNS, has become an ardent supporter of DNS Security Extensions. Speaking at the Black Hat DC 2009 conference Thursday, the prominent security researcher told the audience that the lack of DNS security not only makes the Internet vulnerable, but is also crippling the scalability of important security technologies. 'DNS is pretty much our only way to scale systems across organizational boundaries, and because it is insecure it's infecting everything else that uses' DNS, the fundamental Internet protocol that provides an IP address for a given domain name, said Kaminsky, director of penetration testing at IOActive. 'The only group that has actually avoided DNS because it's insecure are security technologies, and therefore those technologies aren't scaling.'"
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Security Researcher Kaminsky Pushes DNS Patching

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  • Yes, DNS-Dan is pushing for DNS security. He has never been a security researcher, just someone poking for holes.

    I think I'll go with what Bruce Schneier and other security researchers suggest.


    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xiroth ( 917768 )

      Meh, I dunno about that. He's clearly got a pretty brain for finding flaws, and he's obviously got experience in the area, so he's a perfectly good cracker resource. You can't see everything from the security side - Whites and Greys need to have their input heard too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Hasler ( 414242 )

      > I think I'll go with what Bruce Schneier and other security researchers suggest.

      Which is...

  • Job title (Score:5, Funny)

    by psnyder ( 1326089 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @08:34PM (#26923973)
    I'd love to have the title "Director of Penetration Testing", but can only think of 2 types of jobs where the title is appropriate. And I don't have the stamina for either.
  • Who is Dan Kaminsky (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @08:37PM (#26924009) Journal
    In case anyone was wondering who Dan Kaminsky is, besides being the one who discovered the recent DNS vulnerability, he also did research regarding the Sony rootkit. His picture [wikipedia.org] is available online, and he looks like a regular decent guy, for whatever that's worth. He's written some sort of port scanner called scanrand, and started a company called Doxpara Research.
    • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @08:56PM (#26924147)
      I think you're confusing Dan with Mark Russinovich -- they guy who discovered the Sony rootkit.



      • by ascari ( 1400977 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @09:10PM (#26924257)
        It's a DNS error: Mark Russinovich and Dan Kaminsky resolve to the same person.
      • I think you're confusing Dan with Mark Russinovich

        I think GP isn't. It may be true that Mark discovered the rootkit, but I distinctly remember watching one of Dan's talks (at shmoocon, I think) in which he talks about him scanning udp/53 of teh w0hle intarnets and figuring out that a lot of caches knew about a name more or less only connected to the sony rootkit before Dan came and asked for it.

        Dan did some research. Not all of it, and not the first of it, but some of it.

      • No, I didn't. Mark Russinovich discovered it, but Dan continued with the investigation. Most notably he did work to discover how many computers were actually infected by said rootkit. How does a 'security researcher' investigate such things?

        Ahem. As I was saying, it is good you brought up Mark since he deserves credit as well.
      • by MadMidnightBomber ( 894759 ) on Friday February 20, 2009 @05:52AM (#26926667)

        No, Kaminsky used an interesting technique to map the spread of the Sony rootkit - http://www.securityfocus.com/news/11369 [securityfocus.com]

        Saying "he also did research regarding the Sony rootkit" is entirely accurate.

    • by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @09:35PM (#26924375) Homepage

      His picture is available online, and he looks like a regular decent guy, for whatever that's worth.

      Sorry, he's not attractive enough for me to consider him a network security expert (what the hell???)

      • Is your point that what he looks like doesn't make a difference at all in his ability as a network researcher?

        True point, but it can still give you some good information. When I look at him, he seems like a pretty nice guy. I could probably chill with him. He's not stylishly dressed, he's somewhat overweight, but he doesn't seem embarrassed at all that someone is taking a picture of him in that state (and he seems to be at some public event). From that you can conclude he's probably not ambitiously tr
      • Sorry, he's not attractive enough for me to consider him a network security expert (what the hell???)

        It's documented fact that the wrinkles on your face are a result of the expression you tend to have on your face. Sour-pusses really are sour on the inside (No, I have not conducted a taste test to prove it. But anyway.) The expression on your face also influences your mood just as your posture does. Muscle memory works both ways! Neurons don't have diodes attached. So your mood influences your face influences your mood. If you see someone with a really sour look on their face all the time, guess what? They

  • Ok i am probably going to show my ignorance here, almost certainly, but it seems to me that this is a good thing, isn't it? Don't we want to have a secure DNS system? Or is it the case that securing the system will somehow limit our freedom or something like that?

    Yes i know this is a very generic question but i would like to know

    • by gavron ( 1300111 )
      Securing DNS is a good thing. The methods have been under discussion for years. It is true that if the Internet Engineering Task Force were to actually bless ONE WAY TO DO IT and then REQUIRE THAT METHOD for ALL nameservers (not just the root) then it would be a very good thing.


    • I'd be lying if I pretended to know the heavy tech details; but this is almost definitely one of those situations where caution is advised because we'll be stuck with whatever we do for a while. Whatever change they decide to make will have to be made by and deployed to a huge number of devices, organizations, and pieces of software. If we choose something that ends up sucking, we probably won't get to change it.

      Also, deciding who gets to be "trusted" in any large scale cryptographic system is always good
  • by Wowlapalooza ( 1339989 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @09:03PM (#26924193)

    Kaminsky supports patching existing nameservers (to increase query source-port entropy and thus make the so-called "Kaminsky" attack far less likely to succeed).

    He also supports DNSSEC as the long-term solution to the whole class of vulnerabilities.

    But these are not the same thing.

    Patching DNS servers is done to the nameserver programs, DNSSEC is done to the nameserver configurations and to the DNS data itself.

    The article, and Slashdot's summary of it, mixes up the two in an unfortunate salad. Very disappointing indeed.

    • The guy gets it!
    • by SIR_Taco ( 467460 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @09:09PM (#26924247) Homepage

      mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... unfortunate salad

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Effugas ( 2378 ) *

      This is true historically. However, I (this is Dan Kaminsky) think it's a mistake now. DNSSEC needs to be pushed into the nameserver's automated functionality about as deeply as possible. Administrators simply cannot be asked to maintain this data, manually resigning zones, manually keeping keys from expiring. It doesn't scale.

  • by Ex-Linux-Fanboy ( 1311235 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @10:01PM (#26924561) Homepage Journal

    I started to RTFA when something caught my eye: "his discovery of a significant DNS flaw -- known as the Kaminsky Bug"

    Except Kaminsky wasn't the original discoverer of this bug (or the workaround). Dr. Bernstein is. Dr. Bernstein discusses hte Kaminsky bug here [cr.yp.to]; that page has been around since about late 2000 [archive.org].

    For the record, I am no fan of DJB. I feel he has acted unprofessional and childlike at time; his response to an announcement of my DNS server on Bugtraq [derkeiler.com] being just one example of his inappropriate behavior. But, personal differences aside, I recognize he's a genius and that he's the original discoverer of this particular DNS issue.

    (I also wish DJB would own up to the remote denial of service bug DjbDNS has, but that's another issue)

    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Thursday February 19, 2009 @10:33PM (#26924781)

      djb thought potential exploits would appear without port randomization, but he didnt discover this particular flaw. Kaminsky did. As a car analogy, its like saying putting chips in keys keeps cars from being stolen, but coming up with a non-obvious hack that always starts the car without a key is its own work. Even Schneier says so [schneier.com]:

      Kaminsky's vulnerability is a perfect example of this. Years ago, cryptographer Daniel J. Bernstein looked at DNS security and decided that Source Port Randomization was a smart design choice. That's exactly the work-around being rolled out now following Kaminsky's discovery. Bernstein didn't discover Kaminsky's attack; instead, he saw a general class of attacks and realized that this enhancement could protect against them. Consequently, the DNS program he wrote in 2000, djbdns, doesn't need to be patched; it's already immune to Kaminsky's attack.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by afidel ( 530433 )
        Oh, as we discovered after the patching for the Kaminsky bug ANY DNS server is vulnerable if it sits behind a firewall that uses static or weakly randomized source ports. This means your DNS software might could be perfectly designed but if your firewall doesn't cooperate you're still vulnerable. I don't believe any home firewall does port randomization correctly and more than a few high end ones don't either.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think most OpenWRT/DD-WRT, etc, firewalls do srcport randomization reasonably well, at least if they're based on a reasonably new 2.4 or 2.6 kernel. There's a lot of home firewalls running those sorts of user-upgraded firmware. And there's a reasonable number of folks running a Linux/Netfilter based firewall either on their normally used computers directly, or on a dedicated firewall computer (say an old 586), too. Plus all those that went with a *BSD based firewall instead.

          Sure, by absolute numbers, t

          • by afidel ( 530433 )
            I don't consider a hobbyist custom firmware to be a home firewall, it's a hobbyist firewall which is a different animal even if it is the same hardware. My comment was mostly in regards to things like the 99.99999% of home firewalls sold in retail stores to your average user and often used by business for small soho type installations. Beyond that many large commercial firewalls either don't do source port randomization or they don't do it by default, I know that was the case with my employers very expensiv
      • by Effugas ( 2378 ) *

        Don't worship DJB too closely. Remember the birthday attacks from 2002? DJBDNS only got patched against them a week or two ago...not even after I pointed out that their protection was missing, but after Kevin Day went ahead and built an exploit against it.

  • "'The only group that has actually avoided DNS because it's insecure are security technologies, and therefore those technologies aren't scaling.'"

    Avoided? then WHAT is this: www.ioactive.com ???
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Avoided? then WHAT is this: www.ioactive.com ???

      It's a website, not a security technology.

      If you want a security technology that uses DNS, ask for opportunistic IPSEC.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.