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Why Your Dns Settings Could Make or Break Your Hacking Career

  

Before we delve into this critical topic, let me emphasize the gravity of DNS settings in the realm of ethical hacking. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out, understanding the nuances of DNS settings is pivotal to your career.

In the world of ethical hacking, there are several key factors that can determine your success or failure. However, one aspect that’s often overlooked, even by seasoned professionals, is the Domain Name System (DNS). Before we explore the labyrinthine nuances of hacking, security, and online anonymity, it’s imperative to address the elephant in the room: the critical importance of your DNS settings.

DNS is the cornerstone of internet navigation. It’s what translates human-friendly domain names into IP addresses that machines understand. But have you ever stopped to consider the potential risks or advantages associated with the DNS servers you use? Many haven’t, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that this oversight can make or break your career in ethical hacking.

Why is DNS so crucial? For starters, it plays a significant role in your online anonymity. Using the wrong DNS can expose your internet queries and activities, rendering any attempts at anonymity futile. It also bears directly on your security. Certain DNS providers offer robust security features, including protection against phishing and malware. Last but not least, DNS affects your data integrity, safeguarding your online interactions from attacks like DNS spoofing.

Now, why should this matter to you? Whether you’re a hacking novice learning the ropes or an experienced cybersecurity expert, your DNS settings serve as the first line of defense and the last line of exposure. Ignoring or misunderstanding this fundamental aspect can lead to compromised security, loss of anonymity, and, in worst-case scenarios, legal repercussions.

So, as we delve deeper into the intricacies of ethical hacking in this article, keep in mind that your DNS settings are not just a technical detail—they’re a strategic choice that affects your entire hacking career.

The Essence of DNS

DNS is not merely technical jargon; it’s a crucial element dictating how we interact with the vast digital landscape known as the Internet. Despite its importance, DNS settings are often overlooked, even by cybersecurity experts.

While DNS is commonly understood as the system that resolves domain names into IP addresses, its role extends much further. Think of DNS as the neural network of the internet, facilitating seamless communication between devices and servers. DNS servers act as intermediaries, enabling data flow and ensuring you connect to the right services. It’s more than just a translator—it’s an enabler.

The DNS architecture comprises various components, such as DNS resolvers, root servers, and authoritative name servers, each playing a unique role in the DNS query process. Yet, it’s surprising how many cybersecurity professionals overlook the strategic importance of choosing the right DNS settings. Selecting the optimal DNS server not only affects your browsing speed but also has implications for your online safety and privacy.

Why Is This Important?

Allow me to be clear: Anonymity, Security, and Data Integrity are the cornerstones of ethical hacking. A misconfiguration in your DNS settings can jeopardize these foundational elements. That’s precisely why you need to pay attention to your DNS settings.

Now that you understand the indispensable role DNS plays, let’s delve into the reasons why getting your DNS settings right is non-negotiable in ethical hacking.

Firstly, Anonymity—a poorly configured DNS can leak your activities, even when using secure channels like VPNs. This could defeat the whole purpose of working undercover. Secondly, Security—some DNS providers offer additional features like phishing protection and malware filtering. These built-in security layers can serve as your first line of defense against potential threats. Thirdly, Data Integrity—DNS ensures that you are connecting to legitimate servers, minimizing the risk of falling victim to attacks like DNS spoofing or cache poisoning.

Simply put, your DNS settings serve as both your shield and your sword in the realm of ethical hacking. They protect you from external threats while enabling you to operate efficiently and anonymously. Underestimating the importance of DNS settings is akin to entering a battlefield without armor or weapons—a risk you cannot afford to take.

Lastly, let’s talk about the real-world implications of neglecting your DNS settings—Legal Consequences. Over the years, numerous hackers have found themselves behind bars due to operational security failures, which can include DNS-related mistakes. Take the case of Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the Silk Road. While not directly related to DNS, Ulbricht was captured due to a series of OpSec failures, including using his personal email address for Silk Road business. In a similar vein, ignoring or misconfiguring your DNS settings could lead to your downfall, drawing attention from law enforcement agencies.

In some cases, hackers have faced extensive prison sentences as a result of such oversights. So, when we say DNS settings are crucial, it’s not mere hyperbole; it’s a matter of legal and personal safety that has led to real-world ramifications for those who ignored it.

In 2016, the hacker group known as APT34 was linked to a series of attacks that targeted government and military organizations in Southeast Asia. The group was identified by researchers at FireEye, who found that the hackers had leaked their DNS records during a previous attack. This leak allowed FireEye to track the group’s movements and identify their targets.

  • DNS leaks and APT34:

“APT34: Tracking a Prolific Cyber Espionage Group.” FireEye. March 8, 2016. “DNS Leaks Expose APT34’s Global Espionage Campaign.” Threatpost. March 8, 2016.


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What to Expect in This Article

We’ll cover the following key areas:

  • The Importance of DNS in Ethical Hacking
  • Risks Associated with Default DNS Settings
  • Changing DNS Settings in Linux, with a Focus on Parrot OS
  • Common Mistakes that Lead to the Capture of Hackers
  • And yes, for those on the Windows platform, there’s something for you as well.

The Importance of DNS in Ethical Hacking

DNS, or Domain Name System, is often considered the phonebook of the Internet. However, its implications in the world of ethical hacking are far more profound than simply translating domain names to IP addresses.

Anonymity

The first point of importance is Anonymity. Your DNS settings serve as the gateway through which all your online requests pass. Using default DNS settings provided by your ISP not only exposes your queries but can also make you vulnerable to DNS logging and monitoring by third parties. This means that your activities, even when you’re using secure communication channels like VPNs or Tor, can be logged and potentially exposed. Opting for privacy-focused DNS providers can significantly enhance your online anonymity, making it increasingly difficult for anyone to trace your activities back to you.

Security

Next up is Security. While it’s true that DNS is not inherently secure, some providers offer additional features that can fortify your online presence. For instance, certain DNS services offer phishing protection and malware filtering. These features can actively block you from accessing known malicious websites, thereby serving as an additional layer of security. Given that hackers often rely on these very tactics to compromise targets, turning the tables by leveraging these security features in your DNS settings is not just smart—it’s essential.

In the field of ethical hacking, where even a minor slip-up can lead to severe consequences like identification by authorities or capture by rival hackers, every layer of security matters. Overlooking DNS as a security mechanism is a cardinal sin that no ethical hacker should commit.

Data Integrity

Ensuring Data Integrity is another critical aspect to consider. In a world teeming with cybersecurity threats like DNS spoofing and cache poisoning, the integrity of the data you’re interacting with is paramount. By using secure, reputable DNS servers, you can substantially mitigate the risk of interacting with rogue or compromised servers. Secure DNS settings prevent attacks that could manipulate DNS queries, ensuring that you’re communicating with the intended servers and not some rogue setup looking to intercept or manipulate your data.

Avoiding Censorship

Last but not least is Avoiding Censorship. The DNS settings you choose can have a significant impact on your ability to access information freely. Some DNS providers specialize in bypassing geo-restrictions and internet censorship, effectively providing an unfiltered view of the digital world. For ethical hackers, this ability to sidestep censorship isn’t just a matter of convenience; it can be essential for tasks like open-source intelligence (OSINT) gathering or when targeting entities in regions with strict internet controls.

Avoiding Logging

Last but not least is Avoiding Logging. The DNS settings you opt for can have profound implications for your privacy. Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) log DNS queries as a standard practice, which could expose your online activities to scrutiny. Utilizing a DNS service committed to not logging your activities can provide an additional layer of privacy. For ethical hackers, the absence of logs minimizes the risk of leaving digital footprints that could later be used against you, either legally or nefariously.

The Risks of Default DNS

Not paying attention to your DNS settings may seem harmless, but the risks involved are far from trivial. In the labyrinth of the internet, your DNS settings are like the guide that helps you navigate. Choose the wrong guide, and you could end up in a maze of risks and threats.

Exposure to Surveillance

Default DNS servers, especially those provided by ISPs, are prone to surveillance. For anyone in the field of ethical hacking, this is a glaring security risk. Your DNS queries could be monitored, logged, and analyzed. In some instances, these logs could be handed over to authorities or malicious actors, jeopardizing your anonymity and potentially implicating you in undesirable activities.

Vulnerability to Attacks

Using default or commonly-used DNS servers makes you an easier target for specialized attacks. Types of attacks like DNS poisoning or Man-in-the-Middle attacks become exponentially riskier if your DNS is not encrypted. In essence, you’re walking through a minefield with a blindfold when you neglect to secure your DNS settings.

Data Harvesting

While popular DNS services like Google’s DNS offer speed, they often come at the expense of privacy. These services are engineered to harvest data, which can then be utilized for targeted advertising, analytics, or other commercial purposes. It’s a trade-off that could have severe implications for your privacy and security.

The legality of DNS usage varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Using a DNS service that doesn’t adhere to the laws of your country can not only get you into hot water but can also result in serious legal repercussions. Always research and make sure that the DNS service you’re using is compliant with local laws.

Reliability Issues

Reliability is often an underrated aspect when selecting a DNS service. However, a DNS server that frequently goes offline can severely impact your operations. For an ethical hacker, this could mean the difference between successfully completing a mission and failing miserably.


How to Change DNS in Linux (Focusing on Parrot OS)

Changing DNS settings on Linux, especially on specialized distributions like Parrot OS, can seem like a formidable task. However, fear not! This guide aims to demystify the process and provide you with the knowledge and confidence to enhance your cybersecurity posture effectively.

Understanding the Configuration File

The epicenter of DNS settings on a Linux system resides in a file known as resolv.conf. This file is usually located in the /etc directory. However, editing this file directly can be a futile exercise, as it’s often overwritten by the system, just as we experienced earlier in our journey.

The resolvectl Command

Our first attempt involved using the resolvectl command. This powerful tool not only provides a detailed status of your current DNS settings but also allows for on-the-fly modifications. However, as we noticed, these changes were not persistent through a system reboot, which brings us to the next point.

Network Manager CLI

A more enduring solution we explored was the Network Manager Command Line Interface (CLI), specifically the nmcli command. This command reloads DNS settings and offers a higher likelihood of retaining these settings after a system reboot. We used nmcli to update the DNS settings and even reloaded the network manager to make sure the changes took effect.

Persisting Changes

The quest for persisting DNS changes led us to explore multiple avenues. We discussed various methods ranging from script automation to systemd configurations. Eventually, the solution that worked involved making modifications at a system level to ensure that the changes remain intact even after rebooting the system.


Steps to Modify NetworkManager’s DNS Settings:

Find your connection’s UUID:

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nmcli connection show

This will list all network connections. Note down the UUID of the connection you’re using (likely named ‘Wired connection 1’ or similar).

Edit the NetworkManager configuration:

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sudo nano /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/your-connection-uuid

Replace your-connection-uuid with the actual UUID you noted down.

Find the [ipv4] or [ipv6] section and add:

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dns=1.1.1.1;1.0.0.1;

Make sure to end the line with a semicolon.

Restart NetworkManager:

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sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

Test: After making these changes, reboot your computer and check if the settings persist.

It’s possible that the connection’s UUID might not have a pre-existing configuration file under /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/.

If the file is not there, it means NetworkManager hasn’t generated a custom configuration file for that connection, which is often the case for dynamically managed connections. You might have to create a new NetworkManager profile manually to enforce persistent DNS settings.

Steps to Create a New NetworkManager Profile

Generate a new profile:

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nmcli connection add type ethernet con-name custom-eth ifname eno1

Replace custom-eth with a name you choose and eno1 with your network interface name.

Set the DNS servers:

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nmcli connection modify custom-eth ipv4.dns "1.1.1.1 1.0.0.1"

Reload and restart NetworkManager:

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sudo nmcli connection reload
sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

Activate the new profile:

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nmcli connection up custom-eth

Test: Reboot your computer and see if the settings are persistent.

Steps to Ignore DHCP DNS and Use Custom DNS

1. Modify the NetworkManager connection to ignore DHCP DNS

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nmcli connection modify custom-eth ipv4.ignore-auto-dns yes

This tells NetworkManager to use only the DNS servers you’ve specified and ignore the ones from DHCP.

2. Reload and restart NetworkManager

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sudo nmcli connection reload
sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

3. Activate the new settings:

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nmcli connection down custom-eth
nmcli connection up custom-eth

Test: Reboot your computer and verify if only the privacy-focused DNS servers are being used.

If you want to set privacy-focused IPv6 DNS servers along with your IPv4 DNS, you can do that using nmcli again. Popular DNS services like Cloudflare offer IPv6 addresses as well. For Cloudflare, these are 2606:4700:4700::1111 and 2606:4700:4700::1001.

Steps to Add Privacy-focused IPv6 DNS

Modify the NetworkManager connection to include IPv6 DNS servers:

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nmcli connection modify custom-eth ipv6.dns "2606:4700:4700::1111,2606:4700:4700::1001"

Modify the NetworkManager connection to ignore DHCP DNS:

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nmcli connection modify custom-eth ipv6.ignore-auto-dns yes

This tells NetworkManager to use only the DNS servers you’ve specified and ignore the ones from DHCP.

Reload and restart NetworkManager:

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sudo nmcli connection reload
sudo systemctl restart NetworkManager

Activate the new settings:

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nmcli connection down custom-eth
nmcli connection up custom-eth

Test: Reboot your computer and verify if only the privacy-focused DNS servers are being used.


A Note for Windows Users

While the focus of this article is squarely on Linux environments, particularly Parrot OS, a quick detour is warranted for those finding themselves on the Windows platform. This is not to say that Windows is completely unviable for ethical hacking or cybersecurity, but there are some caveats to consider.

Limited Security

First and foremost, Windows is generally perceived as less secure compared to Linux, especially when it comes to tasks requiring high levels of anonymity and security. This is primarily due to the closed-source nature of Windows, as well as its susceptibility to malware and other security threats. However, modifying your DNS settings can still offer a modicum of improvement. But let’s be clear: this is a band-aid solution and should not be your only line of defense.

How to Change DNS in Windows

Changing DNS settings in Windows is a relatively simple affair. To get started, you’ll need to navigate to your Network and Sharing Center, which is accessible via the Control Panel. From there, click on ‘Change adapter settings,’ right-click on your active network connection, and choose ‘Properties.’ Within the properties window, find and double-click on ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’ or ‘Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)’ to enter your preferred DNS servers manually. Click ‘OK’ to apply the changes.

Proceed with Caution

Let’s not mince words here: if you’re using a Windows machine for activities requiring high levels of security and anonymity, you’re walking on thin ice. Changing your DNS settings can indeed enhance your online security posture, but it’s far from a silver bullet. Windows is inherently fraught with vulnerabilities, some of which are not immediately obvious and can be exploited in sophisticated attacks.

The Vulnerability Landscape

Windows is a frequent target for malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks. The operating system’s widespread use makes it a lucrative target for cybercriminals. So even as you adjust your DNS settings, remember that vulnerabilities like zero-days and unpatched software can still expose you to risks.

The Role of DNS in a Security Suite

Modifying your DNS settings should be viewed as part of a broader security suite that includes, at a minimum, a robust firewall and updated antivirus software. Advanced users may also consider using sandboxing techniques, intrusion detection systems, and regular system audits to check for potential vulnerabilities.

The Ultimate Caution: Consider a Transition

If you’re earnest about diving into the realms of ethical hacking or cybersecurity, you might want to consider transitioning to a more secure operating system like Linux. In fact, many professionals use Linux precisely for its enhanced security features and the greater control it offers over networking settings, including DNS configurations.


Conclusion

By now, it should be glaringly clear that DNS settings are not a sideline player in the game of ethical hacking; they’re a star quarterback. Your choice in DNS settings can dramatically influence your anonymity, security, and even your career’s trajectory. Whether you’re operating on Linux or Windows, taking control of your DNS settings isn’t just advisable; it’s imperative.

The Stakes are High

The world of ethical hacking is fraught with risks, and the margin for error is incredibly narrow. A mere oversight in your DNS settings could lead not just to technical failures but also to significant legal repercussions. These are not mere cautionary tales but hard truths evidenced by the real-world cases of hackers who have faced severe consequences due to DNS misconfigurations.

A Step in the Right Direction

Changing your DNS settings is akin to setting the foundation stone for your security infrastructure. It’s the first in a series of steps that lead to a fortified and resilient setup. This guide has not only shown you ‘how’ but also explained the ‘why,’ aiming to instill in you the strategic mindset required for ethical hacking.

Key Takeaways

  1. DNS settings are the Cornerstones: They play a pivotal role in maintaining your anonymity, security, and data integrity.
  2. The Risks of Complacency: Default DNS settings are a minefield of risks. They expose you to a range of vulnerabilities—from surveillance to targeted attacks.
  3. Ease vs. Caution: While changing DNS settings is relatively straightforward, it demands a nuanced approach and meticulous attention to detail.
  4. A Wake-up Call for Veterans: Even seasoned ethical hackers have underestimated the critical nature of DNS settings, leading to their capture and legal ramifications.
  5. OS Agnosticism: Regardless of your operating system, the principles of secure DNS settings hold true. However, the level of control and security varies, and transitioning to a more secure OS like Linux could be the ultimate step in your cybersecurity journey.

Final Words

In conclusion, your journey in ethical hacking will be fraught with choices, and one of the earliest yet most crucial ones is your DNS settings. Make an informed decision; your career and freedom could very well depend on it.

This article aims to arm you with the knowledge and strategies to make informed decisions regarding your DNS settings, thereby enhancing your capabilities as an ethical hacker.

 

By Bulls Eye

Jolanda de koff • email donate

My name is Jolanda de Koff and on the internet, I'm also known as Bulls Eye. Ethical Hacker, Penetration tester, Researcher, Programmer, Self Learner, and forever n00b. Not necessarily in that order. Like to make my own hacking tools and I sometimes share them with you. "You can create art & beauty with a computer and Hacking is not a hobby but a way of life ...

I ♥ open-source and Linux