Kaspersky Labs reports that an unnamed large Brazilian financial institution with $27B in assets was compromised by hackers who took over its DNS — by hijacking its NIC.br account — and for 5 hours were able to impersonate the bank to all its online customers (and possibly to control its ATMs) in order to plunder their accounts and steal their credit card details.
Kaspersky's Bestuzhev argues that, for banks, the incident should serve as a clear warning to check on the security of their DNS. He notes that half of the top 20 banks ranked by total assets don't manage their own DNS, instead leaving it in the hands of a potentially hackable third party. And regardless of who controls a bank's DNS, they can take special precautions to prevent their DNS registrations from being changed without safety checks, like a "registry lock" some registrars provide and two-factor authentication that makes it far harder for hackers to alter them.
Without those simple precautions, the Brazilian heist shows how quickly a domain switch can undermine practically all other security measures a company might implement. Your encrypted website and locked down network won't help when your customers are silently routed to a bizarro version deep in the web's underbelly.
How Hackers Hijacked a Bank's Entire Online Operation [Andy Greenberg/Wired]
(Image: Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA)
(via Naked Capitalism)