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SA’s domain name ecosystem under threat, says ZACR

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Domain Name System (DNS) abuse is emerging as an existential threat to the continued stability of SA’s domain name ecosystem, the administrator of SA’s .za domain name, the ZA Central Registry (ZACR), has warned.

The organisation laments the increased attacks across the country, saying SA experiences thousands of attempts at DNS abuse on a daily basis.

ZACR says domain name hijacking, cyber-squatting, spam, phishing, botnets and malware are all forms of DNS abuse perpetrated primarily by global fraud syndicates.

“Growing cyber attacks in the form of DNS abuse are putting millions of South Africans at risk while they are depending on their Internet and e-mail connections at a critical time in our history,” it says.

“The targets of DNS abuse are commonly individual Internet users who are tricked into parting with usernames, passwords and sensitive financial information; organisations whose domain names are held to ransom; registrars who might be tricked into transferring domain ownership under false pretences; and even government departments whose online presence may be hacked.”

However, the administrator believes SA is fortunate because it has a “remarkably robust and resilient local Web with many protective systems in place”.

“Thanks to three decades of consistent investment in our world-class .ZA top-level domain (TLD), and in South African’s three Internet Exchanges (INXs), local Internet users have never experienced a loss of connectivity to the wider world,” ZACR says.

It cautions that new threats are emerging to threaten the stability of the South African Internet, and top of the list are attempts at DNS abuse.

In a statement, ZACR says together with its Registrar and Reseller partners, they have implemented “effective tools aimed at thwarting cyber criminals and these include DNS authentication protocols such as two-factor authentication within the Registry Lock”.

Additionally, it says “there is much that the individual South African Internet user can do to take back control from local and international cyber criminals.

“Regularly change your passphrases and avoid repeating them. Do your research and become familiar with the different types of DNS abuse that commonly include malware, botnets, phishing, pharming and spam.”

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