HKIRC debuts DNS record lockdown service

Sheila Lam
17 Feb 2014

Aiming to protect domain names of .hk Web sites from defacement, the Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation (HKIRC) last month launched the .hkLOCK service.

The new security service provides an additional layer of authentication process for domain name owners to prevent unauthorized access and changes to domain name server (DNS) records.

According to Jonathan Shea, CEO of HKIRC, unauthorized access to DNS records caused a few high profile incidents recently, including the attack on the New York Times website last September. Shea said hackers gaining access to DNS records could launch a web site defacement attack –re-directing the affected site to a fraudulent site under the same domain name.

“Such security breach is causing damage to branding and revenue, particularly for e-commerce Web sites,” he said. “Many enterprises use the same domain name for email addresses, causing also emails being re-directed to the hackers.”

In some instances, such as the outage at LinkedIN last June, employees have made errors to domain name records unintentionally. Shea added that this can also bring about the same harmful effects that come from cyber-attacks.

Taking authentication offline
To protect domain name owners, the HKIRC offers the .hkLOCK service to block online access to the DNS records. Such access can only be unlocked through an offline authentication process, which is by calling a hotline to schedule a 15-minute window to unlock the service, after verification with the authorized person.

Each domain name owner can assign a maximum of three authorized persons to unlock the service and their identities are verified through passphrases.

“Protecting domain names should be a key priority for any company, especially for high traffic Web sites and large corporations, where the domain name is a critical part of their business,” said Shea. “Such offline authentication process provides an additional layer of protection for unauthorized access to the DNS records, preventing Web site defacement and reducing human error.”

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