The Five Most Dangerous New Attack Techniques

eWEEK DATA POINTS: Experts from the SANS Institute outline a series of new attacks and the steps that enterprises can take to mitigate them.


Attackers are constantly changing tactics as they aim to gain an upper hand on defenders and un-suspecting victims.

While some attack techniques like phishing and SQL injection are common year after year, other newer techniques have emerged in the past year that attackers are increasingly exploiting, putting enterprises at risk from threats that perhaps they have not properly considered.

In a session at the RSA Conference, experts from the SANS Institute outlined the five most dangerous new attack techniques that enterprises are likely to see in 2019. In this eWEEK Data Points article we summarize those techniques and what enterprises can do to help reduce the risk.

New Attack No. 1: DNS Manipulation

Ed Skoudis, fellow as the SANS Institute identified DNS manipulation as his top new attack. With DNS manipulation, attackers are making use of stolen credentials in order to log into domain registry systems and change information. DNS (Domain Name Service) is the technology that directs domain names (like to the IP address where the content is available.

To help limit the risk of DNS manipulation, Skoudis recommends that organizations use multi-factor authentication for management and deploy DNSsec (DNS security) to improve the authenticity of DNS records.

New Attack No. 2: Domain Fronting

Skoudis explained that Domain Fronting is a technique used by attackers, to obscure where the attacker is located, where the command and control is coming from and where the bad guy is exfiltrating trading data to. Domain fronting abuses cloud content delivery network functionality to trick systems into trusting content.

To help limit the risk of domain fronting, Skoudis suggests that enterprises not blindly trust traffic going to and from their cloud providers.

New Attack No. 3: Targeted Individualized attacks

Heather Mahalik, senior instructor SANS Institute warned of the growing risk of targeted individualized attacks. In those attacks, hackers are able to get access to a user's information via a number of different mechanisms, including users simply sharing too much information online that enables the hackers to get access to user accounts.

"The lazier we get as humans, the better the glimpse into our life is for everyone else and that's scary," she said.

Mahalik suggests that users review their cloud settings to see what is publicly available and take steps to limit the availability of personal information.

New Attack No. 4: DNS Information Leakage

Johannes Ullrich, Dean of Research, SANS Technology Institute highlighted the fact that DNS information by default isn't secured, which could enable a potential attacker to view DNS traffic information. With DNS information an attacker can gain insight into where traffic is headed. That same capability however is useful for defenders to understand how attack traffic is coming in and where it is headed.

The challenge of DNS information leakage can be solved by encrypting the DNS traffic, with DNS over HTTPS, though Ullrich warned that the approach also makes it more difficult for defenders to spot evil stuff on the network.

New Attack No. 5: Hardware flaws in BMC

Baseboard Management Controllers (BMC) are integral parts of many modern IT systems providing a way to monitor and manage firmware and hardware. According to Ullrich, those systems can sometimes have vulnerabilities that attackers can potentially exploit.

Ullrich suggests that to reduce the risk of hardware management system vulnerabilities users remove un-needed management utilities and monitor access to the management consoles that are needed.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.