A security researcher has found a serious vulnerability in Bind 8, an ageing yet widely-used software program used for the internet's addressing system.
The flaw within Berkeley Internet Name Domain 8 (Bind 8) software could misdirect users to a fraudulent website even if a user typed in the correct URL, wrote Amit Klein, chief technology officer for security vendor Trusteer. Klein discovered the problem.
Users are being advised to upgrade to Bind 9.4, the latest version of the software, which underwent an architecture rewrite to improve security. The software, looked after by the Internet Software Consortium (ISC), is free to download.
"It's never easy to retire a product," wrote the organisation in an advisory. "The security issues of Bind 8 are many, and seven years after the release of Bind 9, ISC must devote our efforts to maintaining and enhancing the current version."
About 14% of the DNS servers on the internet in 2006 were still using Bind 8, according to Infoblox, which conducts an annual survey of DNS servers.
"Bind 8 is still a very popular DNS server nowadays, thus this attack applies to a big part of internet users," Klein wrote.
In a research paper, Klein described a weakness in the algorithm Bind 8 uses to generate transaction IDs, apparently random serial numbers that allow it to spot whether someone is trying to supply it with false information in response to queries.
The weakness makes it possible to observe a few queries and then predict the transaction ID in the sequence, Klein wrote.
Using that information, an attacker can then send erroneous information to the DNS server, "poisoning" the address stored against a particular domain name in its memory cache. Thus, traffic intended for a certain website from users of that DNS server can be diverted to another server containing a fraudulent site, a deception known as "pharming".
Although Bind 9 has a better transaction ID algorithm, it could also be vulnerable, Klein wrote.
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