About Theo Geurts

CIPP/E Contractual Compliance and Privacy Officer at Realtime Register B.V.

Realtime Register joins the Global Cyber Alliance

Last month, Realtime Register partnered with the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) to expand the Realtime Register Insights Domain Abuse Platform capabilities.

At Realtime Register, we have been collecting abuse/intelligence feeds like Pokémon this year. By adding the GCA Domain Trust Feed we are now up to 72 feeds. The information gathered we make available to our resellers, providing them with deep insight into how criminals are using their services. 

 

However, the Domain Trust Feed is not just a feed; it is much more.

Let’s get technical

 The GCA uses the Quad9 feed. Quad9 protects users from accessing known malicious websites, leveraging threat intelligence from multiple industry leaders, and currently blocks an average of more than 60 million threats per day for users in 90 countries. Pretty impressive, right?

 

Quad9 checks websites against IBM X-Force’s threat intelligence database of over 40 billion analyzed web pages and images.

The fun does not stop there as IBM X-Force taps into 18 different intelligence partners. 

  • Abuse.ch
  • The Anti-Phishing Working Group
  • Bambenek Consulting
  • F-Secure
  • mnemonic
  • 360Netlab
  • Hybrid Analysis GmbH
  • Proofpoint
  • RiskIQ
  • ThreatSTOP

There is an inevitable overlap of feeds since we already use Pulsedive, which offers around 30+ feeds and already includes Bambeneks C2 feed and Abuse.ch to detect malware. But better be safe than sorry.

But the Domain Trust platform offers more. 

As you can see in the above picture, the CGA Domain Trust Platform uses categories. The result is that multiple scenarios can unfold with more than one entity adding information to the feed. 

For example:

Quad9 flags a domain as suspicious. For registrars, this information is not actionable. But an ISP who is scanning some part of the internet could also see something dodgy. If the ISP marks the domain as suspicious on the feed, the registrar now has two insights. 

There could also be the situation that a law enforcement officer just concluded the investigation of the domain name and marks it as malicious, and decides it should be taken down or not. With three independent sources, a registrar has much more information to act on to check if a takedown is justified or not. 

If the domain name is taken offline by us/the registrar, we pass that information to the GCA Domain Trust Platform users. It is pretty cool that registrars or registries can ping back the feed results through an API. 

 Powerful

All in all, the Domain Trust intelligence platform is a powerful tool for registrars and registries to use in their fight against domain name abuse.

Security Threat Monitoring Beta

In this article/faq, I will explain the security threat dashboarding/monitoring. 

What is it?

In the first beta phase, we will make the threat intelligence we download from Pulsedive available to our customers in the domain manager. 

If you are a customer of Realtime Register you can join the beta program. 

Please contact our support team for information.

As a customer, you will be able to see the active security threats. 

Security threats could be phishing domain names or malware domain names. 

The Abuse Dashboarding provides you with information that usually does not get reported to Registrars. 

As a result, you can assist registrants very fast and clear a lot of issues.  

The goal

Our goal is not to set up a new business model. Abuse monitoring is free of charge. The end goal is to reduce DNS Abuse and stop it where possible. Providing our customers with detailed information should assist them in that goal. 

Not Realtime

In the current phase, we refresh the dashboard once a day. 

We are pulling a lot of data, and in the current setup, it is not possible to visualize such data real-time. 

In a later stage, we will be able to process data much faster. 

Getting Access

To get access you need to contact our support team. Once you have access we suggest you create a new user role with the following role: EMBED_BI

EMBED_BI

Once you add that user role to one of your users they will be able to view the data. Depending on the level of abuse it might take a while the first time to process all the data into your account.

The Dashboard

I think the layout is self-explanatory. 

How to export data

You can view the active security threats, the levels of abuse. 

In the dashboard, you can zoom in on different aspects and compare those with each other. 

For example, you can zoom in on a TLD and combine that with the risk level indicators. 

Combining information will give you a better sense of what is going. It also helps to detect patterns. 

Please make use of the filters; they are there for a reason. 

One of the key filters is the “added” filter. The “added” filter shows you the newest IOC’s (Indicators Of Compromise). 

 

Zoom in on Pulsedive. 

When you select a domain name, you can view the details as we downloaded them from Pulsedive, including the link to Pulsedive for even more information. 

It goes beyond the scope of dashboarding to explain Pulsedive fully. But from the screenshot, we can see in this example that the IP address no longer resolves, and the threat is most likely no longer active. Within Pulsedive, you can pivot through more data and or rescan a domain name to obtain the latest information. 

With the information at your fingertips you can remove malicious URLs from your server.

 

Pulsedive provides us with actionable threat intelligence data. The data covers the following areas. 

  • Malware
  • Phishing
  • Advance Persistent Threats
  • Cyber Terrorism and Cyber Warfare
  • Spam
  • Botnets/C2/C&C
  • User-submitted research like intelligence research
  • Domains Generated Algorithm names

History

With our data in combination with the data from Pulsedive some of our resellers can go back till the year 2015.

Spam

Currently, we are not monitoring domain names that are engaged in spam. 

Such feeds are very expensive, considering we do not provide email services. And we do offer our abuse monitoring for free to help to reduce DNS abuse. 

Putting DNS Abuse into context.

We are currently working on a project to provide abuse monitoring information to our customers.
Giving our customers just the raw data is not helpful, so our goal is to contextualize the data.
We still have long ways to go, but the basics are there.

So what do I see right now on our platform?

 

  • Malware (67%)
  • Phishing (23%)
  • The rest falls into somewhat general buckets like BEC fraud, DGA, botnets, dark lists, crypto mining, etc. Very low incidental percentages.

The above-mentioned data is from two years of monitoring.

On the left is displayed the overall abuse percentage since 2018. And yes, the abuse levels are low, certainly if you compare them with the registrar statistics from Spamhaus.

Malware is the biggest problem.
The number of domains used in malware is low (2.71%).
However, the number of URL’s is high (94.24).

When I dive into information, it becomes clear that Emotet a “Crime As A Service” is the biggest threat actor (operational since 2014).

Emotet does not get noticed much by registrars. Due to tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) used by these criminals, they do not require domain names. Meaning there is no registration data; there is no money trail; there is simply nothing at the registrar level.

Emotet hacks web and hosting services to deploy their malicious payload and essentially operates a botnet through these hacked services.

I think, however, that when we release contextual information, things will change. I suspect that situational awareness will provide enough info for our customers to harden security.

Currently, we are fine-tuning the data we download from https://pulsedive.com.
Pulsedive will provide our customers with a more granular level of detail. The data provided at Pulsedive is usually used by Security Operation Center Analysts to turn information into actionable intelligence.

 

 

RiskReact on Domain Name Security & Domain Locks

RiskReact is a service of Realtime Register B.V. with a focus on security threats, cyber intelligence & OSINT.

Last year a registrar employee was the victim of social engineering resulting in an unauthorized transfer of a domain name. 

A few months ago, a registrar employee was the victim of a spear-phishing attack, resulting in a DNS hijack. 

A possible solution to counter such issues and other risks is a Domain Name Registry Lock. 

Domain name registry locks are available for many TLDs. They all cover the same basic level of protection. 

  • Domain name update lock, preventing unauthorized or accidental updates
  • Domain name deletion prevention
  • Prevents unauthorized transfers or domain theft
  • Prevents host updates or deletions 

When we look at our competitors who offer registry locks as a service we observe the following issues; 

  • No option for secure and encrypted user authentication. 
  • Domain updates and passphrases are not encrypted.
  • One size fits all procedure.
  • Procedures are posted publicly on websites for anyone to read, including social engineers and hackers with malicious intent. 
  • Low prices. While low pricing is not a bad thing itself, low pricing usually does not provide the highest possible security. 

With RiskReact, we approach the solution from a different angle. 

Our approach is not to offer the cheapest or most convenient solution. With Risk React, we aim for the best custom solution that matches your threat and risk profile. 

In counter-surveillance, a useful strategy is to let unknown surveillance operators know that there are robust measures in place that make surveillance hard and detectable. Such an approach is acting as a deterrence to protect the target. Below I will explain how Risk React can work as deterrence and why it is an excellent solution to protect your high profile domain names. 

Assess the risk (module 1, included in base price)

Together with the client/reseller, we will discuss the potential dangers that a domain name might face and discuss the best possible solution. 

After the decision on what solution is best, we will perform an OSINT and non-intrusive technical scan to determine if the solution matches reality.

If there is a divergence in the assumed risk model, we will inform the client/reseller so we can adjust the solution if required.

Module one also includes a scan for public breached user accounts. In case of detection and in combination with the RiskReact service, we will discuss this first with you as it is usually better to avoid such user accounts and email addresses altogether for security reasons.

Also included for free is the 24/7 Intelligence Monitoring.
Our Enterprise-grade endpoint security engine scans domain names constantly for malware, phishing, APTs, botnets, or if your domain name is blocklisted.
A blocklisted domain name can have a negative impact on your SEO, or worse, your domain name is no longer accessible.

One or multiple authorized users (module 2)?

Depending on the setup and organization of the client/reseller, it might be advisable to add more authorized users to add more flexibility. 

For example, we have a client where both the CISO and CTO have to approve the changes. 

Out of band, out of the box (module 3). 

We understand that in some cases, like a domain name that is part of a critical internet infrastructure requires a lot more added security and a different set of protocols and perhaps different communication channels. 

For example, it might be necessary that communications are done through an encrypted decentralized communication protocol.

Such options can all be discussed, so surprise us!

SOCMINT (module 4).

Social media is great for branding until you become the target of activists or worse, hacktivists.

RiskReact can monitor social media, and our CTI analysts will inform you of possible threats. Being alerted of such events at an early stage allows you to deploy possible mitigation responses.

Brand monitoring (module 5)

Make sure that you are aware of typo or homograph domain names.
Typo or homograph domain names are often used for spearphishing attacks.
Our system will alert you regarding newly registered domain names that impersonate your brand or might infringe on your intellectual property.

Public breached and leaked database assessment and monitoring (module 6)

RiskReact monitors domain names and PII provided by the client/reseller by checking public breached databases and publicly-leaked databases. These databases are updated almost weekly. When we discover the submitted PII in a breach/leak, we notify the client/reseller. 

Be advised we need to comply with the GDPR, and the service mentioned above has some restrictions.

 Dark web Research (module 7)

Dark web research is an excellent way to detect possible threats arising from the dark Web. 

Such research includes the detection of exploits used in the wild or leaked information. Naturally, analyzing a part of the Internet frequented by individuals trying to stay out of the spotlight is a more difficult task than traditional measurement campaigns conducted on the regular Web.

For more information, contact our support team to discuss your potential domain name risks and solutions!

Additional MFA support at Realtime Register

In addition to the recent introduction of adding API keys, now we are adding Multi-Factor Authentication support. Multifactor authentication (MFA) is a security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction.

Multifactor authentication combines two or more independent credentials: what the user knows (password), what the user has (security token) and what the user is (biometric verification).

We will support the following methods for MFA:

  • Webauthn (FIDO2) supporting Touch or Pin and Touch sensor like Yubikey with secure elements, Software authenticators and also Biometric authentication like Finger, Face, Iris/ Voice recognition.
  • TOTP (Google authenticator)

We offer multiple methods to add an additional layer of security for your account. Read more how to add MFA to your account via our Knowledgebase: How to enable MFA on your account.