After 6 months - fix available for Microsoft DNS cache poisoning attack Nov 13 2007 06:26PM
Amit Klein (amit klein trusteer com)
After 6 months - fix available for Microsoft DNS cache poisoning

On April this year I discovered a new vulnerability that enables
DNS cache poisoning attack against the Windows DNS server. Today
(November 13th, 2007) - six and a half months after being informed
- Microsoft released a fix for this vulnerability. As the fix is
now publicly available, I can finally share my research finding
with you.

For those of you who read my research papers on BIND 8 and 9
(http://www.trusteer.com/docs/research.html) - it is the same
type of attack but a different vulnerability and a different DNS
server. It's interesting that both BIND and Microsoft had
different, and at the same time fundamentally flawed
implementations of DNS (with Microsoft's implementation being
more easily predictable than those of BIND).

Using this attack an attacker can remotely poison the cache of
any Windows DNS server (when run in caching mode) and force users
who use this DNS server to reach fraudulent websites each time
they try to access real websites.

Windows DNS Server (part of Windows 2003 Server and Windows 2000
Server) is a popular DNS server (especially in Microsoft-based

The concept of DNS cache poisoning was discussed many times
before. However, this attack was considered impractical for the
leading industrial DNS servers due to the transaction ID
mechanism that DNS servers implement today. The transaction ID is
supposed to be a secure, random number that the attacker must
guess in order to poison the DNS cache. There are 65,536 possible
transaction ID values which make enumeration impractical in the
current network conditions.

The weakness I found is in the transaction ID generation
algorithm of Windows DNS Server. By observing a few consecutive
transaction IDs from the same DNS server an attacker can predict
its next value.

This weakness can be turned into a mass attack in the following
way: (1) the attacker lures a single user that uses the target
DNS server to click on a link. No further action other than
clicking the link is required; (2) by clicking the link the user
starts a chain reaction that eventually poisons the DNS server's
cache (subject to some standard conditions) and associates
fraudulent IP addresses with real website domains; (3) All users
that use this DNS server will now reach the fraudulent website
each time they try to reach the real website.

The algorithm for predicting the transaction ID is very simple.
It was coded in Perl and was demonstrated to work well (and

The algorithm, as well as the paper, are available on Trusteer's
website: http://www.trusteer.com/docs/windowsdns.html

Microsoft were informed on April 30th, and patched versions of
Windows DNS Server are now available on their website (see
Microsoft Security Bulletin MS07-062 and Microsoft Knowledge Base
Article 941672).


Amit Klein

PS - as a side note, this vulnerability was originally scheduled
for the October patch Tuesday, but due to some implementation
issues, it was postponed by one month.

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