Study: Operators should use DNSSEC to improve security

While cost and complexity turn operators off, one expert says rolling out the technology isn't as taxing as companies imagine

Various challenges are making many operators hesitate to adopt DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) to prevent hackers from tampering with DNS information and redirecting Web traffic, according to a study from European Union's cybersecurity agency.

DNS is a key building block of the Internet. The technology's most important task is translating IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to host names, and DNSSEC is used to protect that process.

Operators agree that the deployment of DNSSEC provides a much needed improvement on security.

But 56 percent are still considering whether to implement it, and 22 percent do not plan to implement it in the next three years, according to the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) study (http://www.enisa.europa.eu/doc/pdf/resilience_tech_report.pdf).

A lack of customer demand for DNSSEC and the cost of deployment are two of the main reasons for operators either hesitating or choosing not to implement the technology in the near future, according to ENISA.

Operators that have rolled out DNSSEC cite the complexity of deploying the technology as the greatest challenge, in part because of a lack of tools for automating the operation process.

There is also a lack of security policies focusing on DNSSEC security guidelines, key management and recommendations, ENISA said.

Putting pressure on software vendors and operators to add support for DNSSEC would get it implemented much faster, said Torbjörn Eklöv, a security expert at consulting firm Interlan, who has implemented the technology at Swedish municipalities.

The general lack of awareness and understanding of DNSSEC also means that companies overestimate the expense and difficulty of actually implementing it, said Eklöv.

He claimed that he can implement the technology at a Swedish municipality in less than a day.

Companies should spend as much energy and resources on securing DNS as they currently do on firewalls and spam protection, he said.

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