/ Command and control

Vultr Domain Hijacking

TLDR: Vultr does not verify domain ownership when adding new domains. This allows the hijack of abandoned domains by pretty much anyone with an account and verified payment method

Disclosure Timeline

2018/04/09: Reported to Vultr to see if they will fix and accept under bug bounty program.
2018/04/13: Won't fix at this time. System is designed to not require verification. This is just a side effect.

Vultr DNS Service

Vultr's DNS service does not use DNS verification. This means that anyone can take management of the domain name that's pointing to ns[02].vultr.com. Below shows some screenshots of the interface used to add new domains to your DNS service management section of Vultr.

Add a domain

No verification of the domain is needed to add it, as shown below:


A payment method is required before you can start using the DNS services, but you don't need to verify payment to be able to check if a domain exists already on the Vultr DNS system. The following screenshot shows a list of payment methods that are accepted, so you can verify payment using gift codes, and Bitcoin.


Great, but there's also an API available to automate adding new domains, and Vultr links to it nicely. See https://www.vultr.com/docs/introduction-to-vultr-dns and https://www.vultr.com/api/#dns

It was trivial to set up a parallel curl command to perform this but I decided to use Burp Intruder with 2 threads at 750 ms per request (+latency Vultr). There's a maximum of 2 requests a second. The following request will add a new domain to your account.

POST /v1/dns/create_domain HTTP/1.1
Host: api.vultr.com

A possible addition will yield a response similar to the following:

HTTP/1.1 412 Request Failed
Server: nginx
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:21:55 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Connection: close
Content-Length: 80

Unable to create domain: To begin adding domains, please link a payment method!

I get the above error message because I used an account with no payment info attached. Once I got the domains, I decided to just add it on my main account.

An invalid attempt will yield the following response:

HTTP/1.1 412 Request Failed
Server: nginx
Date: Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:13:50 GMT
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
Connection: close
Content-Length: 47

Unable to create domain: Domain already exists

By comparing response length in Burp, it is easy to see which domains are vulnerable:

Intruder sorted by content length
Intruder sorted by Content Length

Why would any domain ever be configured this way?

  1. A Vultr customer decides to use their DNS services so they point their domain at their nameservers.
  2. At this point, either they never added the domain name to their control panel in Vultr or they had later removed it after wanting to stop using their services.
  3. Either way, the attacker could find that it's no longer registered on Vultr and add it to their Vultr DNS control panel.
  4. Attacker now has control over records and hijacks the domain.


So you have a way to add domains, and test if they're vulnerable based on response. How do you get the list of domains to try?

Remember that I released a tool called DomLink a couple of days ago? I was also working on many other DNS tools. I found viewdns.info, which has reverse NS lookups. EXACTLY what want to find right? Old cached reverse NS lookups that may or may not be currently valid.

Taking all of these domains, we go through a filtering process to find current domains pointing to ns1.vultr.com still. I used the following command:

cat vultr-ns1.txt | parallel -j 32 “dig {} +short ns | head -n 1 | sed -e ‘s/^/{}:/g’ | grep [vultr.com](http://vultr.com/) | tee -a vultr-go.txt”

Fantastic, now I had a list of about 10,000 domains.

Example Hijacking




As you'd expect, this isn't a particularly widespread issue. In fact, I had only found about 10 hijackable domains and were mainly non-reputable in terms of proxy categorization and trust. The reputation issue is probably due to it being Vultr’s service and although my opinion is biased, has not yet attracted the bigger companies. More reputable companies use clouds such as Amazon, Azure, and Alibaba — probably due to their reputation. Nevertheless, it's still important that customers are aware and are cautious when using such services. For the general public, it's worth keeping track and maintain your DNS entries - whether these be NS records or CNAME records.

We can see that over the last few months, I and a few other researchers have begun to release our information on using services that do not validate domain ownership to hijack abandoned instances. It's definitely a trend and it's something that many cloud providers, small and large alike, across the board seem to be struggling with.

Solution: Require another domain verification step before allowing the user to add their domain to your service, and take control of that domain.