subdomain takeover (stealing websites)

Subdomain takeover is a dangerous technique used by hackers to gain control of websites without being detected. By exploiting vulnerable subdomains and creating accounts on the associated services, hackers can redirect users to fake websites and steal their personal information. In a video by NetworkChuck, the ease and effectiveness of subdomain takeover are demonstrated using tools like Takeover, Amass, and Dig. The video emphasizes the importance of regularly checking and updating DNS entries to prevent subdomain takeovers, highlighting the need for tighter security measures and awareness of potential vulnerabilities in website management.

The video reveals just how simple it is for hackers to execute subdomain takeovers, showcasing the untraceable nature of these attacks. By deleting accounts associated with subdomains but leaving the DNS entries intact, hackers can create new accounts and gain control over these subdomains. This grants them the power to manipulate websites and conduct various attacks, such as phishing schemes that can trick users into giving away their login credentials. The video highlights the urgency of securing DNS settings and implementing robust security measures to protect against subdomain takeovers, emphasizing the need for increased awareness and preventative measures in website management.

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What is Subdomain Takeover?

Definition of Subdomain Takeover

Subdomain takeover refers to a technique used by hackers to gain control of a website by exploiting vulnerable subdomains. A subdomain is a subset of a larger domain, typically used to organize and categorize different sections or services of a website. When a subdomain is no longer in use or is misconfigured, it can be vulnerable to takeover.

Purpose of Subdomain Takeover

The purpose of subdomain takeover is to allow hackers to manipulate websites without detection. By gaining control of a subdomain, they can redirect users to fake websites, steal sensitive information, or engage in other malicious activities. Subdomain takeovers are dangerous because they are relatively easy to execute and can have significant implications for both website owners and users.

Tools for Subdomain Takeover


Takeover is a popular tool used for identifying vulnerable subdomains and detecting potential takeover opportunities. It scans a target domain and checks various services to determine if any subdomains are vulnerable. Takeover checks against a wide range of services to provide comprehensive results.


Amass is another powerful tool that can be used to identify vulnerable subdomains. It uses various techniques, such as brute forcing, scraping, and more, to discover potential subdomains associated with a target domain. Amass is highly customizable, making it a versatile tool for subdomain enumeration.


Dig is a command-line tool that allows users to query DNS (Domain Name System) servers to retrieve information about a domain or subdomain. It can be used in subdomain takeover to gather information about DNS records and identify potential vulnerabilities.

Risks and Implications of Subdomain Takeover

Ease of Execution

One of the major risks associated with subdomain takeovers is the ease of execution. Hackers can easily identify vulnerable subdomains using automated tools and exploit them without much difficulty. The simplicity of the process increases the frequency and severity of subdomain takeovers.

Undetectable Manipulation

Another significant risk is that subdomain takeovers can be executed without detection. Website owners may not immediately realize that a subdomain has been compromised, allowing hackers to manipulate the website and carry out various malicious activities without raising suspicion.

Redirecting Users to Fake Websites

Subdomain takeovers can be used to redirect users to fake websites controlled by hackers. By exploiting a vulnerable subdomain, hackers can create a convincing replica of a legitimate website and trick users into providing sensitive information such as login credentials or financial details.

Stealing Information

Hackers can leverage subdomain takeovers to steal sensitive information from users. By gaining control of a subdomain, they can intercept user communications, capture login credentials, or install malware on users’ devices to gather personal information.

Identifying Vulnerable Subdomains

Using Amass

One method for identifying vulnerable subdomains is by using tools like Amass. Amass employs various techniques, including brute forcing and scraping, to gather information about subdomains associated with a target domain. It provides a comprehensive list of potential subdomains that can be further analyzed for vulnerabilities.

Other Tools for Vulnerability Scanning

In addition to Amass, several other tools can be utilized for vulnerability scanning and identifying vulnerable subdomains. These include SubFinder, Sublist3r, and Assetnote, among others. Each tool offers unique features and functionalities, allowing users to choose the one that best suits their needs.

Methods of Subdomain Takeover

Creating an Account on the Service

One method for taking over a subdomain is by creating an account on the service it is pointing to. If a subdomain is associated with a third-party service and the account linked to it is deleted or no longer in use, a hacker can quickly create a new account using the same name. This allows them to gain control of the subdomain and manipulate it for their malicious purposes.

Exploiting Misconfigured DNS

Misconfigured DNS settings can also lead to subdomain takeovers. If the DNS records are not properly configured, hackers can exploit the misconfiguration to gain control of the subdomain. They can then modify the DNS settings to redirect traffic to their own servers and carry out their malicious activities.

Exploiting Expired DNS

Expired DNS records can be a potential avenue for subdomain takeover. If the domain or subdomain registration is not renewed in a timely manner, it may become available for registration by anyone, including hackers. By claiming the expired domain or subdomain, they can assume control over it and exploit it for their own purposes.

Exploiting CNAME Misconfigurations

A misconfigured CNAME record can also be exploited for subdomain takeover. CNAME (Canonical Name) records are used to alias one domain to another. If the CNAME record is incorrectly configured, hackers can manipulate it to point to a domain they control. This allows them to take over the subdomain and have full control over its functionality.

Other Methods

There are various other methods that hackers may employ to carry out subdomain takeovers. These can include exploiting vulnerabilities in specific web applications or services, leveraging DNS cache poisoning, or using social engineering techniques to gain access to subdomains or associated accounts. It is crucial for website owners and administrators to be aware of these methods and take necessary precautions to prevent subdomain takeovers.

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Preventing Subdomain Takeovers

Regularly Checking and Updating DNS Entries

One of the most effective ways to prevent subdomain takeovers is by regularly checking and updating DNS entries. Website owners should review their DNS settings periodically to ensure that all subdomains are in use and properly configured. Removing any unnecessary or expired DNS entries can significantly reduce the risk of subdomain takeovers.

Implementing Strong Authentication Measures

Implementing strong authentication measures for accessing and managing subdomains can also enhance security. This can include using multi-factor authentication, enforcing strong password policies, and regularly reviewing and revoking access privileges for individuals or accounts associated with subdomains.

Monitoring and Auditing DNS Configuration

Regular monitoring and auditing of DNS configuration can help detect potential vulnerabilities and prevent subdomain takeovers. Monitoring tools can be employed to track changes to DNS settings and alert administrators of any unauthorized modifications or suspicious activities.

Performing Security Assessments

Performing thorough security assessments, including vulnerability scanning and penetration testing, can help identify potential weaknesses in a website’s infrastructure that could lead to subdomain takeovers. By proactively addressing these vulnerabilities, website owners can enhance their defenses against subdomain takeovers.

Educating Personnel on Subdomain Takeover Risks

Lastly, educating personnel on the risks and implications of subdomain takeovers is crucial for preventing such attacks. All individuals involved in website administration and management should be trained on best practices for subdomain management, including the identification and mitigation of potential vulnerabilities.


Subdomain takeovers pose significant risks to website owners and users alike. By exploiting vulnerable subdomains, hackers can manipulate websites without detection, redirect users to fake websites, and steal sensitive information. It is crucial for website owners to regularly monitor and update their DNS settings, implement strong authentication measures, and perform security assessments to prevent subdomain takeovers. By taking proactive measures and educating personnel, the risks associated with subdomain takeovers can be mitigated, ensuring the security and integrity of websites and their subdomains.

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