The Department of Homeland Security's newly created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued its first-ever emergency directive on Tuesday, instructing federal government agencies to take preventative measures against an ongoing DNS hijacking campaign that has recently affected several executive branch domains.

Cisco Systems' Talos research unit first reported on the DNS infrastructure tampering in November 2018. The attacks, which FireEye has tentatively attributed to Iran-sponsored actors, have hit targets not only in North America, but also in Middle East and North Africa and Europe.

In a typical scenario, the attackers compromise or steal credentials that allow them to access a specific organization's DNS records. They then modify those records by replacing the organization's legitimate website address with a malicious address, where unsuspecting site visitors will be redirected. The perpetrators also obtain valid encryption certificates for the target's domain names, which allows them to decrypt any sensitive data that gets redirected to them.

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