The Pivotal Role Protective DNS Plays In Cyber Defense

  • Bad actors will always find a way to penetrate organizations if they want to. Businesses need to know that pure prevention is in the past and, instead, automatically assume compromised security.
  • Defense in depth and operational resiliency are the future for organizations that want to survive in the new world of cyber threats. Operational resiliency necessitates intelligence, visibility, and confidence: the three foundational pillars of protective DNS (PDNS).
  • While PDNS can prevent breaches before they start, it also helps identify, contain, and stop them early, most importantly before they can cause damage. This makes malware command-and-control, phishing attacks, DNS tunneling and a number of other attacks significantly less effective.

Breaches Are Inevitable

The unfortunate reality in today’s world is that cybercriminals can and will infiltrate the defenses of any organization whenever they choose. However, despite their success in breaching businesses, there’s still hope for preventing severe repercussions.

Companies can minimize the impact of cyberattacks by focusing on three key pillars of operational resiliency: intelligence, visibility, and confidence. This is the promise of the defense in depth approach to cybersecurity — it’s also the future.

Apply a protective domain name system (DNS) service to identify, stop and contain breaches before they can progress.

Prioritize Resilience

Gone are the days when cybercriminals would hit a firewall and turn back or target another less-protected business. We live in a time when threat actors will attempt multiple attack vectors in a bid to break into an organization — regardless of how protected it is.

The truth is that no amount of protection will stop threat actors from breaching their targets. This means that the only effective way to mitigate the fallout is to catch attacks as early as possible in the cyber attack lifecycle (also known as the cyber kill chain).

It also means that organizations must combine a focus on prevention with a strategy that prioritizes resilience. This same organizational resilience should integrate components within existing infrastructure and threat intelligence.

How and Why Do Cyber Attacks Happen?

Bad actors that manage to penetrate networks typically compromise employees who are typically vulnerable (but sometimes willing) — often through phishing, spear-phishing or ransomware. But once that compromise happens, attackers themselves become vulnerable.

The beauty of an effective PDNS service is that the same mode of communication that threat actors use to attack target organizations can also be used against the threat actors. Attackers infiltrating organizations are forced to rely on command-and-control (C2, or C&C) infrastructure that “beacons out” for instructions from those threat actors. These instructions determine how the malware, ransomware or botnets will “act” within and cause damage to an organization.

It helps to view this act of beaconing out as the ultimate Achilles’ heel of the cyber criminals who deploy their attacks — be they malware-based or otherwise — via DNS. Given that a third of cyber attacks use DNS to infiltrate businesses and 90% of organizations experienced DNS-based attacks in 2023 (according to IDC 2023 DNS Threat Survey), the time has come for proper protection against cybercriminals.

Protective DNS to the Rescue

One reason businesses often fail to deploy a comprehensive service against threat actors is simply that they don’t understand the role that PDNS plays in stopping those threat actors.

Telemetry is essentially information about cyber threats that cybersecurity professionals rely on to protect against attacks. Cyber defenders use telemetry to mitigate the strength of these attacks with a combination of intelligence, visibility, and confidence — all of which they aim to continually improve. It’s a digital trifecta.

Using telemetry helps identify, contain, and stop breaches before they progress to full-scale, highly damaging attacks. Paying attention to telemetry is digital resiliency in motion, and it can be defined as defense in depth — when the first or even second line of offense may be (and often is) ineffective in protecting against these attacks.

But Wait, What Is Protective DNS?

Given all this, you may ask, “Why don’t more businesses deploy PDNS??” Quite simply, few companies understand what PDNS even is. For some, it seems like a technical term. For others, it’s the first line of defense against unsafe websites, but they don’t understand why or what goes into that defense. Others still know it can help mitigate against zero-day attacks, but they don’t know much more.

PDNS is indeed the first line of defense — against the primary attack vector used by cybercriminals. Given that DNS is often described as “the phonebook of the internet,” it’s surprising that more organizations don’t understand how crucial it is to protect against DNS-based attacks.

But DNS makes the internet go around in the same way that money makes the world go around. The reality of cyber threats makes a comprehensive solution in every cyber defense posture critical.

Why Organizations Need PDNS

PDNS plays a pivotal role in protecting against the current cyber threats that plague security. With the right PDNS solution in place, organizations protect against DNS-based threats in different ways:

    • Malware C2: Bypassed network perimeter defenses are a significant problem for infiltrated organizations. However, they mean nothing to cyber attackers who rely on DNS to initiate commands from adversary infrastructure — until PDNS preemptively monitors these persistent attacks.
    • Phishing attacks and DNS spoofing: Attackers using C2 communication rely on DNS. PDNS proactively detects and blocks these communications, effectively stopping various cyber threats, including advanced attacks that traditional systems fail to protect against.
    • Blocking Data Exfiltration: PDNS identifies and blocks DNS tunneling attempts, ensuring that sensitive data does not leave the organization through unauthorized channels.

The Future Is Operational Resilience

Pure prevention is a thing of the past. When an attack gains momentum, organizations that don’t know how to or can’t deal with it suffer grave consequences. Protective DNS (PDNS) mitigates these consequences by providing a robust defense against evolving cyber threats.

PDNS represents the future of cybersecurity, built on operational resiliency powered by intelligence, visibility, and confidence. Organizations that can identify, contain, and stop breaches early in the kill chain avoid the damage caused by attacks that progress too far.

Businesses need a PDNS service they can rely on. Even small vendors, especially those that are government-trusted and continuously innovating, can provide effective PDNS solutions. Attackers who pivot their attack vectors and cover their tracks — idling even when their command and control infrastructure is destroyed only to re-engage later — are no longer safe.

Implementing PDNS ensures that organizations can stay ahead of cyber threats, protecting their assets and maintaining operational integrity in an increasingly hostile digital landscape.

Counter DNS attacks with a protective DNS service that complements existing security solutions. Contact HYAS today


Further Reading

HYAS Protect Protective DNS

Guide to Protective DNS Security

Protective DNS eBook

AV-TEST evaluation of HYAS Protect

Want to talk to an expert to learn more about Protective DNS? Contact us today to find out what HYAS security solutions can do for your organization.