An article published on the Web site of the United Nations has highlighted the number of redirects that are commonly used by global Internet service providers (ISPs) to redirect users to a website that offers no such service.
The article, published in the November issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, identified about 1,700 redirects to a Web site that does not allow access to the DNS service that the Internet Service Provider or Internet Protocol (IP) address of the user is configured to use.
About a third of the redirects were listed as malicious and malicious domains, according to the study.
About half of the malicious redirects, according the report, are hosted on the Internet domain registrar hosting company Dyn.
The report does not address whether other providers are using similar tactics.
“Many of these domains are being used by malicious actors to attack and disrupt our networks,” said a statement from Dyn, which has said it is not the originator of the attack.
The research team, which included researchers from the University of Toronto, Johns Hopkins University, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, also found that about two-thirds of the domains were hosted by Chinese or Chinese-owned companies.
The team analyzed DNS records that Dyn collected from the public domain to identify the addresses of more than 1,400 domain names that were hosted in Chinese or other foreign domains, and found that roughly 1.3 million of them were used by Internet Service Providers to redirect a user to a spoofed Web site.
The researchers noted that, despite the fact that the redirect URL is a domain name, the Web server used to host the redirect is typically hosted on an Internet provider.
Dyn declined to comment.
“While this study focuses on DNS redirect spam, it does highlight the importance of getting better at identifying redirects and redirect domains, as well as to improving our ability to detect them and remove them,” the researchers wrote in the statement.
The authors also noted that “the detection of redirect domains and the removal of redirect spam may have a direct impact on the quality of service we provide to the users of the Internet.”
Researchers at the University at Buffalo’s School of Information and Society, which published the study, are now working on a similar study that focuses on the domain name system.
The study is based on DNS records collected by a group of researchers from around the world, including researchers at The University of Sydney, and is a collaboration between the University and Johns, the University Of Nottingham, and the Johns Hopkins.
The University at Bills research team has been collecting DNS records for more than four years, and recently collected more than 700,000 records.
The analysis revealed that many of the domain names used to redirect are also known as fake names, or spoofed names, as opposed to actual domain names.
Researchers identified at least 10 fake names used in spam attacks that are not registered by the registrar, according a statement issued by the University.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins said they are working to address the issue, and have published a research paper that analyzes DNS records and suggests ways to identify domains that are used to spam and spoof websites.
“We are working with our colleagues at the Internet Association, which is the umbrella organization for all the world’s Internet organizations, to improve our response to this problem,” said John Zimbalist, vice president of research at the Johns Internet Association.
“Our goal is to provide a comprehensive, transparent, and easy-to-use service that is accessible to the general public.”
The study comes at a time when DNS spoofing has become a problem for Internet users, who have reported being redirected to fake sites.
About 50 million websites, including those that were not actually hosted on Internet Service providers, have been spoofed, according.
The attacks are increasingly affecting the security of Internet traffic, and researchers say it is time for the Internet community to focus on combating the problem.
“This is a problem we need to fix, and we need people to think about it more,” Zimbarist said.
“The Internet is not a one-way street.”