Dangling DNS and Subdomain Takeovers

Developer Support

Andrew Kanieski takes a look at what’s known as a “Dangling DNS Subdomain Takeover”.  It’s a common way for bad actors to gain unintended access to hosting a site in your subdomain.

It’s a busy work week, your backlog seems never-ending, you’re rushing to get things pushed out to production. You think I’ve got a new configuration for my Frontdoor that I want to deploy, I’ll just tear down the old one and push that ARM template to deploy it’s replacement. You fire off the delete command. Once it’s done you push the latest scripts for deployment and go get coffee. You comeback to find that although the delete was successful the deployment failed. You check the error logs, “Name already in use”.

You think, meh, no problem, I’ll just run the deployment, maybe the delete hadn’t fully committed before the replacement was deployed with the same name. You run it again, “Name already in use”. You triple check. Same. You go to your resource explorer looking for the Frontdoor with the same name. It’s not there. What’s going on??

You go to visit your application to see if it’s running, you swing over to app.sample.com which should, by way of a CNAME entry on your domain, route you directly to your Frontdoor. You find that the website takes you to some other website. Another website, being hosted under your subdomain. Have I been hacked?

The scenario I describe above is what’s known as a “Dangling DNS Subdomain Takeover”, and is a common way for bad actors to gain unintended access to hosting a site in your subdomain. Let’s break down how it works!

Check out the full story on Andrew’s blog.


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