DNS Protection Best Practices for Small to Mid-Size Businesses

DNS Protection for businesses

Written by Chuck Rutenberg

June 11, 2020

DNS Protection

DNS protection may be an unfamiliar concept to some business owners. Understandably, many businesses trust their security to a managed service provider who can manage all the messy details and set them up for success. And while that’s a great move for any company, it can be helpful to get acquainted with the concepts on your own terms and understand the risks inherent to having an unsecured system. 

Let’s begin with an overview of Domain Name System (DNS) protection and why it’s important for your website security. 

The Basics of DNS Protection

To understand DNS protection, you’ll need to know a bit about the DNS itself. 

The Domain Name System is a protocol that converts your personalized web domain name into a computer-readable IP address. For example, bizforcetech.com may become 192.0.2.1. The DNS protocol has been part of internet architecture since its earliest days, and for good reason – it’s far easier to brand yourself with a unique domain name than a string of random numbers. Each registered IP address is listed on the DNS provider database, which is why the DNS is often referred to as the phone book of the internet.

But it’s not all about classification. When applied correctly, the DNS can be a powerful cybersecurity tool – even more so than endpoint protections like virus scanners. This is possible through DNS service providers who can route your web traffic through a separate and protected cloud-based server. This, in turn, gives the security provider more control over traffic flow in several key ways:

  • Monitor traffic
  • Filter content
  • Protect against malware
  • Configure custom policies
  • Authenticate data
  • Check DNS reputation
  • Block bad domains/proxies

These are standard fare for DNS protection solutions, but as noted above, the DNS needs to be configured to enable these functions. The DNS itself was never meant to be a security feature. In its basic form, DNS protocols are vulnerable to attacks such as DDoS, cache poisoning, or DNS hijacking.

As such, companies that want to explore their DNS security options need to make sure things are handled in accordance with cybersecurity best practices

DNS Protection Best Practices

While most businesses employ managed security providers who take full ownership of DNS cybersecurity, there are free DNS protection options available. If you go down this route, you’ll be responsible for managing your DNS server on your own. Use these tips as a framework:

  • Keep them up-to-date: Like with other programs, outdated software is an IT threat. Make sure your DNS server is patched appropriately with the latest version.
  • Separate public from private: It’s possible to run multiple DNS servers in tandem, with some being public and some being for private, internal use. As a best practice, restrict public access as much as possible and keep sensitive data on private servers.
  • Restrict zone transfers: Set up your access control lists to protect zone transfers – a fancy way of describing how companies can limit employee access/data connections to specific, controlled applications in the server.
  • Configure against “pollution”: Cache pollution is a type of hack where your DNS cache is sent an illegitimate bit of data that may redirect you to a malicious website. Make sure your DNS server options are configured to prevent this. 

Get a Handle on DNS Protection

The above steps are just a few ways you can set up a secure DNS server, and this is only one part of the numerous steps you must take to protect your business from cyberthreats. There is a more to learn about DNS protection and how it fits into a layered approach to cybersecurity. Managed IT services can help you put these protections in place. 

Download our guide below. It offers a detailed look at business security, including the three primary levels through which you should secure your IT assets, as well as more detail on DNS servers and their role in an integrated cybersecurity program. 

download how to embed cybersecurity into your organization

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