A domain name is the address of a website on the Internet. It is practically the website’s name. If you want to visit Amazon, for example, you’ll type the domain name amazon[.]com into your browser. There are instances, though, when one needs to know who the owner of a domain name is, and WHOIS history can help. To learn more about tools that check domain history, visit https://whois-history.whoisxmlapi.com/. Here are a few reasons why you may need to do that:
Current Domain Owner Records Are Mostly Redacted
In 2018, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that oversees the use of IP addresses and domain names, started requiring registrars to offer WHOIS record privacy redaction. This policy was implemented to comply notably with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandate in European countries. Most domain registrars followed suit, making domain owners’ names and contact details no longer publicly available in most cases.
However, there is a way to check domain history and gather insights into its current or last known owner. For instance, if you want to know the ownership details of mycompany[.]com, run it through a WHOIS history lookup tool.
The domain’s current WHOIS record shows that Perfect Privacy, LLC protects the registrant’s name and email address. The address could also belong to a domain privacy protection service provider.
A WHOIS history lookup results reveal that from February 2014 until May 2017, however, the domain name was registered under an individual with last name “Lim.” It is possible that the same person still owns the domain name.
WHOIS History Can Help in Cybercrime Investigations
Looking into changes in domain ownership can aid in cybercrime investigations. WHOIS history can provide additional data points for law enforcement agencies and cybercrime investigators to work with.
Tools that can check domain history provide a list of domain names associated with a registrant. That way, investigators can study connections and trace a potential attacker’s digital footprint.
To illustrate, let’s say that cyber investigators are looking into an incident involving the domain urlc[.]ir. WHOIS history would show that the domain was owned by a person with an address in Iran. A Google search of the registrant’s name revealed that he might be the former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist who is currently wanted for involvement in espionage, identity theft, computer intrusion, and other cyber attacks.
We ran the registrant’s name on Reverse WHOIS Search to see which other domains contain the name in their historical WHOIS records. Ten domains were returned, which could mean they have been used by the alleged cybercriminal before. Cybercrime investigators can broaden their investigation by looking into these domains as well.
WHOIS History Allows Users to Avoid Associations with Shady Characters
Before buying a domain name or partnering with a third party, it’s essential first to check domain history. That helps protect your brand from getting entangled with a domain that has a shady past. For example, if you purchase the domain pcmac[.]ir and use it for your business, you would be involved with a domain name that has been the property of a person who could be a wanted cybercriminal.
The domain pcmac[.]ir is one of the domain names whose historical WHOIS records indicate that it was owned by someone whose name is the same as the former U.S. Air Force intelligence specialist in our example in the previous section. Similarly, a third-party provider or vendor that uses the said domain name may have a tarnished reputation, which could pose reputational and security risks.
Some people may stop trying to find ownership details after being confronted with privacy redaction on WHOIS lookups. However, they can still track domain ownership history using tools that glean data from WHOIS history.
Cybercrime investigators and law enforcers use such tools to track the digital footprints of malicious domain names and suspected cybercriminals. Companies can also use the same tools to protect their reputation and avoid associating with risky third parties.