4 Key Elements of Domain Ownership History Research

Modifications in domain name records are made all the time. These changes can take the form of modified nameservers, registrars, or ownership contact details. The number of domain ownership history records is thus continuously amplified since hundreds of millions of domain names exist, with millions more added every day. As such, providers like domainnamestat.com/whois-history, for example, have billions of historical WHOIS records in their database.

But how vital is WHOIS history? Why is domain ownership history research essential for businesses? We tackled four key elements that this type of data gathering and research can provide organizations.

Access WHOIS Records before Privacy Redaction

One of the most recent changes that affected most domain names worldwide was WHOIS record redaction. This policy was mainly brought on by the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in all European Union (EU) countries. Domain registrars are now required to mask all personally identifiable information (PII) in WHOIS records, making it difficult for people to know who owns a domain name.

But looking into domain ownership history could help since most databases contain WHOIS records prior to the implementation of privacy protection. If the domain did not undergo recent ownership changes, chances are the current WHOIS record remains the same prior to redaction.

Detect Ties to Suspicious and Malicious Activities

One of the essential benefits of domain ownership history research is that it protects businesses from associating with shady entities. Business owners and managers can dig up domains’ historical WHOIS records to see who owned them before. They can then do more research about the persons or entities to answer the following questions:

  • Is the person or organization a legitimate business entity?
  • Is the previous owner a known cybercriminal?
  • Is the previous owner associated with known cybercriminals?
  • Are there malicious reports linked to the previous owners and other domains they own?
  • Do any of the domains owned by the previous owner appear in any blacklist?

These are critical questions to answer before buying domain names or engaging with a third-party vendor. Keep in mind that the latter can be a severe source of cyber risks, so it’s pertinent to assess them before allowing them access to corporate networks.

Protect Brands and Trademarked Names from Abuse

Trademark infringers are now online, and they are commonly known as “cybersquatters.” They use a legitimate trademark or brand name in domain names. Some cybersquatters park these domains and wait for the brand owners to buy them. But others have more nefarious intentions. They use copycat domain names to make their phishing and spam campaigns a lot more believable.

Domain ownership history databases can help brands detect cybersquatting. Users can use their brand names as a search term to uncover all domain names that contain it. Once they find domains that blatantly imitate theirs, they have two options:

  • They can contact the registrant and negotiate a domain purchase at a reasonable price. Historical WHOIS records can reveal the registrant contact details (in the case the owner’s details became redacted but didn’t change).
  • They can file a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) case at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Provide Additional Data for Market Research and Competitor Analysis

Domain ownership history databases allow researchers and businesses to obtain domain names that contain the same WHOIS record details. This functionality makes WHOIS history a vital data source for market research and competitor analysis.

Using a brand or company name as the search term, researchers can look up all domains that contain a specific search term. Companies can then get a list of all domain names registered under competitors’ or market leaders’ names. That should give them more insights to formulate business strategies.

Domain ownership history research can help businesses dampen the effects of cybersquatting and third-party risks. It can help enrich threat intelligence. It also helps them understand the market and competitors’ strategies better, allowing them to shape their business strategies.