State-sponsored hackers are behind a large-scale DNS hijacking campaign that since January 2017 has been responsible for compromising at least 40 organizations across 13 countries, researchers from Cisco Talos have reported.

Primarily targeting the Middle East and North Africa, the attackers are looking to harvest credentials that grant them access to sensitive networks belonging to national institutions such as intelligence agencies, military units and ministries of foreign affairs, as well as energy organizations. But in order to compromise these victims, the perpetrators typically first compromise their third-party internet and DNS service providers, such as telecommunications firms, ISPs, IT firms, registrars and registries.

In a company blog post, the researchers express concern that the operation could inspire copycat attacks against the global DNS infrastructure, ultimately undermining trust in the internet. "Responsible nations should avoid targeting this system, work together to establish an accept global norm that this system and the organizations that control it are off-limits, and cooperate in pursuing those actors who act irresponsibly by targeting this system," states the post, written by Talos researchers Danny Adamitis, David Maynor, Warren Mercer, Matthew Olney and Paul Rascagneres.

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