• At Kemp Little, we are known for our ability to serve the very particular needs of a large but diverse technology client base. Our hands-on industry know-how makes us a good fit with many of the world's biggest technology and digital media businesses, yet means we are equally relevant to companies with a technology bias, in sectors such as professional services, financial services, retail, travel and healthcare.
  • Kemp Little specialises in the technology and digital media sectors and provides a range of legal services that are crucial to fast-moving, innovative businesses.Our blend of sector awareness, technical excellence and responsiveness, means we are regularly ranked as a leading firm by directories such as Legal 500, Chambers and PLC Which Lawyer. Our practice areas cover a wide range of legal issues and advice.
  • Our Commercial Technology team has established itself as one of the strongest in the UK. We are ranked in Legal 500, Chambers & Partners and PLC Which Lawyer, with four of our partners recommended.
  • Our team provides practical and commercial advice founded on years of experience and technical know-how to technology and digital media companies that need to be alert to the rules and regulations of competition law.
  • Our Corporate Practice has a reputation for delivering sound legal advice, backed up with extensive industry experience and credentials, to get the best results from technology and digital media transactions.
  • In the fast-changing world of employment law our clients need practical, commercial and cost-effective advice. They get this from our team of employment law professionals.
  • Our team of leading IP advisors deliver cost-effective, strategic and commercial advice to ensure that your IP assets are protected and leveraged to add real value to your business.
  • Our litigation practice advises on all aspects of dispute resolution, with a particular focus on ownership, exploitation and infringement of intellectual property rights and commercial disputes in the technology sector.
  • We have an industry-leading reputation for our outsourcing expertise. Our professionals deliver credible legal advice to providers and acquirers of IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
  • We work alongside companies, many with disruptive technologies, that seek funding, as well as with the venture capital firms, institutional investors and corporate ventures that want to invest in exciting business opportunities.
  • Our regulatory specialists work alongside Kemp Little’s corporate and commercial professionals to help meet their compliance obligations.
  • With a service that is commercial and responsive to our clients’ needs, you will find our tax advice easy to understand, cost-effective and geared towards maximising your tax benefits.
  • At Kemp Little, we advise clients in diverse sectors where technology is fundamental to the ongoing success of their businesses.They include companies that provide technology as a service and businesses where the use of technology is key to their business model, enabling them to bring their product or service to market.
  • We bring our commercial understanding of digital business models, our legal expertise and our reputation for delivering high quality, cost-effective services to this dynamic sector.
  • Acting for market leaders and market changers within the media industry, we combine in-depth knowledge of the structural technology that underpins content delivery and the impact of digitisation on the rights of producers and consumers.
  • We understand the risks facing this sector and work with our clients to conquer those challenges. Testimony to our success is the continued growth in our team of professionals and the clients we serve.
  • We advise at the forefront of the technological intersection between life sciences and healthcare. We advise leading technology and data analytics providers, healthcare institutions as well as manufacturers of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotechnological products.
  • For clients operating in the online sector, our teams are structured to meet their commercial, financing, M&A, competition and regulatory, employment and intellectual property legal needs.
  • Our focus on technology makes us especially well positioned to give advice on the legal aspects of digital marketing. We advise on high-profile, multi-channel, cross-border cases and on highly complex campaigns.
  • The mobile and telecoms sector is fast changing and hugely dependent on technology advances. We help mobile and wireless and fixed telecoms clients to tackle the legal challenges that this evolving sector presents.
  • Whether ERP, Linux or Windows; software or infrastructure as a service in the cloud, in a virtualised environment, or as a mobile or service-oriented architecture, we have the experience to resolve legal issues across the spectrum of commercial computer platforms.
  • Our clients trust us to apply our solutions and know-how to help them make the best use of technology in structuring deals, mitigating key risks to their businesses and in achieving their commercial objectives.
  • We have extensive experience of advising customers and suppliers in the retail sector on technology development, licensing and supply projects, and in advising on all aspects of procurement and online operations.
  • Our legal professionals work alongside social media providers and users in relation to the commercial, privacy, data, advertising, intellectual property, employment and corporate issues that arise in this dynamic sector.
  • Our years of working alongside diverse software clients have given us an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the software marketplace, market practice and alternative negotiating strategies.
  • Working with direct providers of travel services, including aggregators, facilitators and suppliers of transport and technology, our team has developed a unique specialist knowledge of the sector
  • Your life as an entrepreneur is full of daily challenges as you seek to grow your business. One of the key strengths of our firm is that we understand these challenges.
  • Kemp Little is trusted by some of the world’s leading luxury brands and some of the most innovative e-commerce retailers changing the face of the industry.
  • HR Bytes is an exclusive, comprehensive, online service that will provide you with a wide range of practical, insightful and current employment law information. HR Bytes members get priority booking for events, key insight and a range of employment materials for free.
  • FlightDeck is our portal designed especially with start-up and emerging technology businesses in mind to help you get your business up and running in the right way. We provide a free pack of all the things no-one tells you and things they don’t give away to get you started.

Internet Infrastructure in a BIND

The Internet is starting to show its age.

As discussed in our Annual Cybersecurity Roundup 2014, in just three months last year two serious security bugs were discovered in code constituting core pieces of the Internet’s infrastructure (Shellshock in OpenSSL and Heartbleed in the Unix Bash shell). A third vulnerability, dubbed Poodle, was found in the 18-year old encryption standard SSL3.0 shortly thereafter.

Now, the Internet infrastructure vulnerability trend continues with the finding of a remote denial of service vulnerability in Domain Name System (DNS) server software, BIND.

What is BIND?

BIND is the most widely used DNS server software on the Internet. Simply, BIND translates easy-to-remember domain names (such as www.kemplittle.com) into the numerical IP addresses needed to route the user to their intended website or service.

The latest version, BIND9, was released in 2000 as a total re-write to mitigate against serious security vulnerabilities in its predecessors BIND4 and BIND8. Widely recognised as being feature-rich, it is the de facto standard on Unix-like operating systems. 

What is the BIND vulnerability?

This particular vulnerability involves the way that BIND handles certain queries related to transaction key records via the rarely used “TKEY” feature. It has been labelled a “critical fix” as it affects all BIND servers, and has no available workaround.

Attackers are able to use the flawed TKEY query as a denial-of-service vector by sending a malformed packet to trigger a REQUIRE assertion failure, causing BIND to exit. With the DNS service offline, the relevant URL cannot be resolved into an IP address and users are consequently prevented from reaching their intended website.

Whilst this will not likely affect regular Internet users directly, the widespread use of BIND9 across a majority of Internet servers and relative ease with which the vulnerability can be exploited renders it possible for lone-wolf attackers to cause mass disruption to companies by single-handedly launching denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on websites hosted on vulnerable servers.

An example would be for an attacker to use a “masscan” tool (or similar) to canvass the Internet with constructed packets and crash all publicly-facing BIND DNS servers in a relatively short period of time. This, in turn, would take down the websites of any online retailers and services (of any type and/or size) hosted on vulnerable servers, potentially costing affected companies significant amounts in lost business and revenue.

How do you respond to the BIND vulnerability?

Although the vulnerability was only made public after a fix was already in place, some companies using BIND have been slow to remedy the issue and, as a result, a number of active exploits have started to appear in the wild.

Fortunately, both detecting whether your DNS server is being targeted and fixing the vulnerability are very straightforward:

  • overview: if you are running any version of BIND server software then you are exposed to this vulnerability;
  • detection: as TKEY requests are not common, at-risk entities can determine whether they are being targeted by looking for the “ANY TKEY” in their DNS logs. If present, your server is being targeted; and
  • fixing: whilst there are no workarounds and firewalls will likely not help, a patch has been issued (including by many companies such as Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, and CentOS) which is completely effective.

Despite the simplicity of mitigating the risk posed by this bug, it is possible that a number of organisations may not patch the vulnerability with any rapidity – not least because BIND is run on Unix platforms, which are not typically patched as commonly as other systems, and patching may cause interruptions to businesses if the process goes wrong.

Why is this BIND vulnerability so important?

Although the ability for a lone-wolf attacker to use the BIND vulnerability to prevent access to a significant number of websites via an easy-to-orchestrate DOS attack is in itself a concern, in practice users will still be able to access most websites and services via other routes such as cached addresses on global DNS servers.

However, this vulnerability does provide a good lesson in over-providing. The fact that this bug arises in respect of the rarely used TKEY query demonstrates the additional potential exposure to which software is subject as a result of providing more features than are really necessary or desirable.

Beyond this, there has recently been a pattern forming in BIND9 vulnerabilities being discovered. As BIND acts as critical infrastructure to the Internet, and is used by many businesses globally, the potential harm caused by the existence of vulnerabilities in such is amplified. The increasing occurrences of vulnerabilities being found in code that is core to the Internet’s infrastructure, including in respect of OpenSSL, SSL3.0, and the Unix Bash shell, results in increased nuisance to Internet users at best – and significant data loss and exposure to cybercrime at worst.  

Whilst the Internet was not originally built with security in mind, these sorts of basic issues should no longer be plaguing users decades down the line. The old, unwieldy code that forms the backbone to the Internet is clearly starting to fail, and in large part because of the use of unsafe languages such as C/C++ and feature-richness. Going forward, as long as re-writing core Internet Infrastructure (whether in whole or in part) is not on the cards, we should not be surprised to see further failings in the Internet’s critical infrastructure. 

For further information please contact Nicola Fulford.