Tracking Domain Changes with WHOIS Lookup Solutions
Not all domains in use today were initially crafted to house the websites that they currently host.
17:12 24 February 2020
Indeed, quite a lot of them belonged to someone else before another business acquired them. And that is not surprising given that the older a domain is, the more likely it is to turn up as a top search result.
And so start-ups have adopted the practice of acquiring established domains for their sites. Then again, how can they be sure that the domains they are eyeing are indeed reputable? Digging up their past and seeing how they have changed over the years may be the answer with the help of WHOIS lookup solutions.
Why the Need to Track Domain Changes?
Companies that wish to benefit from using an old domain name for search engine optimization (SEO) should first run a background check on it. Doing so would reveal if the domain had ties to malicious activity. If it has, it may be part of an authority’s blocklist. In that case, no matter how good its SEO strategies are, visitors will never be able to access its website.
Tracking domain changes can also reveal attempts to compromise its owner’s network security. Cyber attackers have been known to alter Domain Name System (DNS) record settings to redirect a domain’s visitors to their specially crafted malicious websites. The last update date indicated on a domain’s record should thus coincide with when an authorized user most recently updated it. If it does not, that could be a sign of tampering.
How to Track Domain Changes Using WHOIS Lookup Solutions
Before diving into how users can keep tabs on domain changes using WHOIS Lookup or WHOIS Search, let us see what information these products provide first. Backed by a database containing 400 million WHOIS records spanning more than 2,864 top-level domains (TLDs), the solutions can let users know a domain’s:
- Creation date
- Date when it was last updated
- Expiration date
- Registrar’s name and contact details
- WHOIS server
- Registrant contact details
- Administrative, billing, and technical contact details
- Name servers
All of this information can be useful when doing a background check on any domain of interest. Let us consider an example.
Say, for instance, that a start-up owner wishes to use the domain quantum[.]net for his website. He can just input the domain into WHOIS Lookup/Search. Doing so would reveal the following about the domain:
- It is an old domain created way back in 1997. It is, therefore, a good candidate for SEO purposes.
- It received its latest update last month so its record should be up-to-date.
- Its registration will not expire until October 2021, but its registrant’s complete contact details are available, so if he wishes to negotiate for its sale, it is easily doable.
It’s also possible to run an even more thorough background check with WHOIS History Search. Inputting quantum[.]net in the tool shows a total of 11 historical records found with 2 different domain registrars, though always from the same domain owner.
What’s more, business owners who wish to be the first to know if a domain they’re vying for suddenly becomes available for purchase can use domain availability tools to receive alerts. They can add the domains they’re eyeing to their monitoring list on solutions such as Domain Availability API.
Solutions like WHOIS Lookup, WHOIS Search, and WHOIS History Search are indispensable for those who want to make sure that their domains and others they may be interested in buying or closely interact with are threat-free. WHOIS lookup results are excellent starting points for conducting thorough background checks on domain owners. One can never be too sure these days if the people they are dealing with are the real deal or cyber attackers in disguise.
About the Author
Jonathan Zhang is the founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies. TIP is part of the WhoisXML API family, a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.