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The Roots of WHOIS and Its Applications: 3 Fundamental Questions

Journalists, brand specialists, cybersecurity researchers… Everyone wants answers on who does what online, so where can you get the clues you seek?

WHOIS data, alongside its databases and related products, can help you find out who’s behind the most notorious websites—and possibly the shadiest ones as well.

In case you’re not yet familiar with WHOIS, I summarized some of the key concepts in this post through the following three questions.

What is WHOIS?

Glad you asked. Contrary to what people may think, WHOIS is not an acronym. WHOIS is an internet service used to look up information about a registrant and short for the question, “who is responsible for this domain name?”

WHOIS traces its roots to 1982 when the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published a directory of ARPANET users. As the Internet grew, WHOIS began serving the needs of different stakeholders like domain name registrants, law enforcement agents, intellectual property and trademark owners, businesses, and individual users. But the protocol remained fundamentally based on those original IETF standards when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) organization inherited it in 1998.

What is a WHOIS Database?

A WHOIS database is a publicly accessible database that contains information on a domain’s owner, including name and contact details.

What purposes do WHOIS databases serve? Quite a few.

WHOIS lookups’ main goal is to help legitimate businesses ensure their site name’s uniqueness. It can be, after all, common practice for a company to buy all available domain names that are close to their existing one. That way, they can’t easily suffer from site spoofing, which could destroy their brand.

Some people turn domain registration into a business by buying all web addresses in a booming area and later resell these name containing terms of interest at a significant premium. This is comparable to purchasing land speculatively at a discount price and hope to resell it later when all the neighboring area has been appreciated.

Some business owners, meanwhile, may be interested in a certain site for networking purposes. Say you want to reach out and partner with a company but don’t know who to approach, you can easily do a WHOIS lookup for the site owner’s name and contact details.

What’s more? These days, cybercrime investigators, security researchers, and law enforcement agencies also rely on WHOIS databases to gather pertinent information on perpetrators of all kinds of online attacks like spamming, phishing, vulnerability exploitation, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and others.

What Makes a Good WHOIS Database?

Here’s a hint: not all of them are created equal. A good WHOIS database is updated daily, so data even on newly registered domains can be found in it. But even better is one that comes with not just access to 30 days’ worth of historical data from the date you signed up for a subscription, along with universal support and the possibility to download it all at once, but also access to all future updates.

It also pays to bank on the provider’s experience in the business. The more reliable data a database contains, the better it is. Information that is well-parsed and normalized to a consistent format for easy integration with your business processes is also critical when you’re on the hunt for that perfect database for your needs.

And if your business does not really require access to a global WHOIS database, a reliable provider offers customizable databases by country or region. It all depends on how much information you need to do your job. Last but not least, some providers might offer specific functionalities like bulk whois database download that might service particular objectives.

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Practically anyone who wants to ensure their or their clients’ domains’ legitimacy will stand to benefit from a WHOIS database. Site integrity, after all, is critical to protecting your brand reputation.

The more successful you are, the bigger target you will be for cybercriminals. Defending against online attacks starts with knowing who is trying to harm you, and a reliable WHOIS database download provider helps you do just that.

By WhoisXML API, A Domain Research, Whois, DNS, and Threat Intelligence API and Data Provider

Whois API, Inc. (WhoisXML API) is a big data and API company that provides domain research & monitoring, Whois, DNS, IP, and threat intelligence API, data and tools to a variety of industries.

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