SSL and DNS under attack

Are we really secure?

The basis of our modern internet system is Domain Name Servers, and the basis of our “secure” websites are SSL certificates. It seems that both have these have been attacked recently, and we did not even know about it. VeriSign, the number one provider of DNS services for .com, .net, and .gov websites, was attacked in 2010. They revealed this recently to their investors, and to the rest of the world.

A DNS service allows you to type in a web address (google.com), and it directs you to the correct computer (designated by an IP address). Well it seems somebody may have had the opportunity to misdirect you, and that is bad news. Say you typed in bankofamerica.com, you would assume you then are on your banks website. Well you may have been on Jim Bob’s server in his basement, on a site he just made look like Bank of America’s. You then enter your login information, and Billy Bob has it. A DNS attack like this could devastate the security of our internet, and take away our faith in websites.

Well, the only other possible way to know you are on a correct website is through a SSL Certificate, basically a digitally signed document that is verified by VeriSign saying “yes, this is the website you want”. Now it’s security is in doubt (attacks in the past have taken place as well). VeriSign is the primary provider of SSL Certificates, and if they are under attack then so are their certificates (even though the service has now been sold to Symantec). Imagine shopping on ebay, Dillard’s, Best Buy, and believing you are truly on their secure servers. You were directed there when you put in the name, and it says the SSL is correct. Well now both of those security services may be at risk.

The future of our secure internet shopping is at risk, as well as everything else we want private (email, social networking, etc). These problems have to be looked at from “outside the box”. Our internet’s future is now in the hands of our technology students, and I hope they have some great ideas.

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