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Using a Reverse WHOIS API to Beef Up Cybersecurity

  • Last Updated : 25 Jun, 2019

There has been quite a buzz about domain names on the Web in recent years and you may be wondering why. Cybercrime, if you don’t already know, is all about abusing someone else’s online real estate (network, system, domain, IP address, server, etc.) to line perpetrators’ pockets. That’s the reason why one of the first steps that cybersecurity researchers and companies make to protect their customers is to block access to malicious URLs, servers, and domains.

Cybercriminals, particularly those fond of social engineering victims into clicking malicious links, often spoof legitimate companies’ domain names to phish for log-in credentials that they then use to get in to target’s systems and networks. Knowing what domain names reveal using tools like reverse WHOIS APIs and how the information can be used to protect against cybercrime are thus a must. Let’s dive in.

But First, What Exactly Is in a Domain Name?
An individual or company’s domain name doesn’t just tell a person the link to click or type into his browser to reach a website. It can tell you so much more than that.

A domain name has ties to a lot of information about its owner. Knowing all that can point you to who owns it; how to contact him via postal mail, email, phone, or fax; when it was created, last updated, and will expire; its current status; its IP address; all the servers related to it; its registrant and how to contact him; its administrative, billing, and technical contact and his details; and so much more. And all this data can be found in a so-called WHOIS record.

A WHOIS record, obtainable via a reverse WHOIS API, is a precious commodity not only to business owners who wish to protect their virtual properties from cyber attacks, but also for getting to know their market better, launching better-targeted advertising, going after copyright infringers and copycats, detecting fraudulent transactions, and in the unfortunate instance that they become cybercrime victims, helping law enforcement agents catch the culprit red-handed.

How Does One Use a Reverse WHOIS API?
You don’t need to be a cybersecurity expert to use a reverse WHOIS API. All you need is access to one that tracks a huge number of WHOIS records (around 5 billion would be ideal) to account for the Internet’s massive size. It should track all kinds of TLDs, including ccTLDs and gTLDs, along with subdomains, to give you the most comprehensive and accurate results. And to make sure your data captures even the most recently launched websites and pages, choose an API that’s regularly updated.

Now, say you want to find out all about your domain. Just type your search string into the input box and let the reverse WHOIS API do the tedious and otherwise time-consuming work for you. You should get a list of all related domains in either the JSON or XML format. It’s up to you to choose which format you feel more comfortable working with.

Say that during your search, you found a domain among the search results that you’re sure you have nothing to do with. You want to find out more about it. Do a reverse WHOIS API check on it. Find out who owns it and every other information you can about it. A threat actor could already be lurking in your network or worse stealing from your unwary clients. Go more in-depth and find out if the site or page hosted on that domain is malicious. There are also tons of adjacent free threat intelligence platform tools you can use online and techniques like threat hunting.

Succumbing to a cyber attack can cost a lot. You don’t only lose financially by paying fines, reimbursing customers, and putting everything back in tiptop shape, your brand also gets dragged in the mud. Don’t wait for the next cyber attack to hit you, go for a more proactive approach to your cyber defense with the help of a reverse WHOIS API and other tools. Prevention costs a lot less than the cure.

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