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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

According to a new report by the nonprofit Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), up to one-third of hacking between 2012 and 2017 could have been detected if businesses had used a more secure version of DNS — a service that operates behind the scenes to allow web browsers to work.

Catch up quick: DNS — A domain name service (DNS) that operates like an internet phonebook, converts domain names entered by users into internet addresses read by machines.

Details: Jay Jacobs, who headed the report, worked with the researchers behind the Verizon DBIR, a thorough compendium of breach statistics, to determine that 3,668 of the more than 11,000 data breaches on file used vectors that frequently involve the use of DNS.

  • That could mean things like malicious ads loaded from other websites, fraudulent websites or malware communicating with a host through a website.
  • Given previous research evaluating the cost of breaches cited in the GCA study, the report estimates that using a DNS that could perfectly block sites known to be malicious could have been used to detect as much as as $19 to $37 billion of malicious cyber damage in the U.S. in 2016 or $150-$200 globally in 2018.

Between the lines: DNS is not traditionally used as a security tool. "It’s not a sexy control," Jacobs told Axios.

  • Most people don't know what DNS service they use. By default, most people use ones that don't filter malicious sites.
  • But free DNS services with filters do exist — including Quad 9 — a service founded by GCA itself. Switching to one of the services is a relatively simple fix — just a settings change.
  • While they aren't perfect at detection, they are infinitely better than no detection. And as the DNS filters get better, so will detection rates
  • "Moving forward, we'll hopefully see a lot of advancement in that space," said Jacobs.

Go deeper

Thousands of trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.