Cyber Security,DNS Lookups,Cyber Censorship

DNS root servers are those servers that answer requests by mapping domain names to IP addresses as and when a request is made.There are a total of 13 root DNS servers systems worldwide out of which majority are run by US based organizations and the remaining by Europe(There lies the concept of anycast where one root server can have more than one location with same IP but I will discuss that in a later post but the fact that has to be considered is that the operators of most of the root servers are US based which gives them effective control) .Most countries have a mirror of some of these root servers located within their geographic area to reduce the load on the road servers and to allow faster lookup.However there is a major issue in DNS server lookups.Unknown to us,the DNS services do log everything that we do online and also filter results based on what is apt and what is not.This amounts to violation of online privacy.Now the other major issue is that since most of the servers are located in the USA,they are subject to US laws and therefore this means that any court order would effectively be enough to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic.In addition it must also be understood that ICANN,ie the International Council for Assigned Names and Numbers which handles all IP address and governs domain names worldwide operates under licence from the US department of Commerce.This means that a takedown request for any domain name which is in another country as well should be complied with irrespective of whether the laws for that country has been broken or not.However ICANN has said that they have nothing to do with takedown requests at all.They say that it is Verisign that responds to US Govt federal takedown requests by pointing any domain within its registry,ie.. com,.net,.name etc to a US Govt IP which has a seizure notice.This has happened many times in the past.So this essentially means that if any of these major tlds has anything that does not comply with US laws it means that it can be taken down irrespective of which country it is hosted in.

Now there are a couple of solutions to this.With respect to root server censorship,one can use DNS servers provided by an open source organization called OpenNIC which believes in a democratic process of running the Internet.The DNS servers of OpenNic mirrors information from the root servers in addition to supporting additional custom tlds which are totally free.Another option would be NameSpace which is similar to OpenNic. Essentially this means that your requests go through an open source DNS service which is completely free from governmental censorship and scrutiny.The only disadvantage is that the service is provided as it is and comes with no guarantees.

Also as suggested by India is that ICANN should be brought under international norms like the UN which would effectively end the monopoly of one country over it.This is currently under discussion but has not been approved yet.

As long as these changes are not effected constant eavesdropping of personal information will take place even across international barriers.

EC-Council Certified Security Analyst v8/Licensed Penetration Tester

I attended the first batch of ECSA/LPT v8 a couple of months back and I must say that it was a pretty good experience.We had the honour of being trained by the Vice President of Technology of EC-Council Mr Haja Mohideen.The classes started on a good note where we were pointed out to the realms of true cyber security.ECSA v8 is different from previous versions of the certification in the way that it focuses more on technical aspects of security analysis.The course content focuses on a wide rage of topics.It is assumed that you have basic knowledge of internet security.It is recommended to first complete CEH v8 certification before attempting this course.his course tests your theoretical and practical skills intensively.The course covers many areas concerning packet analysis,SQL penetration testing,web application penetration testing among the others.The ECSA written exam tests theoretical skills whereas the LPT is purely practical.Unlike the previous edition of LPT where you only have to submit a police verification and a fee of $500 for the LPT,here you have to go through a practical exam in the iLabs where you have to complete a set of tasks and submit a penetration testing report.The penetration testing report has to be evaluated by a set of examiners who will then award the LPT.It is necessary to complete both the ECSA exam and LPT practicals successfully in order to get the coveted LPT (I am still awaiting the LPT results). The course material of ECSA/LPT includes a course book and a lab manual along with a couple of CDs containing requisite tools and penetration testing agreements.I will not go fully into this again owing to the Non Disclosure Agreement

The LPT practical exam consists of a virtual network which is pre-configured with vulnerabilities in the iLabs and we are supposed to gain administrative access to most systems while completing the requisite tasks.It tests the usage of various tools in the virtual environment  and also skills like network mapping,password cracking among others.The tasks are to be completed and documented using screenshots.I would rate the difficulty level to be 3 on a scale of 5

As a student of the first batch of this course and , I am proud to say that I have learnt a lot that I could not have studied even by referring books or security journals. The course begins from the tip of the iceberg and takes you deep in to the penetration testing world on your journey to become a full-fledged security auditor. This is one of the few courses that intensively tests your theoretical and practical skills to set you off to your target of becoming a penetration tester. This certification is highly recommended to all those who would like to do something worthy in the Cyber Space as Cyber Security Professionals.

The examination is basically 2 hours long with a total of 50 multiple choice questions.The examination can be taken at a  VUE ,Prometric or Prometric Prime Centre.All the exams are proctored.

Suggestions

I dont have any issues with ECSA v8 which I found to be very comprehensive in terms of content.However I would like to point out that LPT requires improvement in certain areas.I found that some parts of the challenges were fairly easy thought overall it was straight forward.There were a few tasks which I found could not be completed because the questions were not clear or rather those tasks were not feasible to be completed due to the absence of many vulnerabilites.However I believe these issues will be addressed shortly since I have already intimated EC-Council regarding this.I would also give them the benefit that the first version of the new LPT is bound to have few hiccups due to the fact that it is completely new and we were the first batch to take it.

I will rate the course 4 on 5.

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Update

I formally received an email that I have passed the LPT practical exam.Now I have to submit police verification documents and references before I get the LPT licence.I will update this section once I get it.