When to Use DNS Lookup and DNS Database for Cybersecurity Research

There is no choice in today’s digital era: Businesses must bring their products and services online to get a sufficient foothold in the market. That is not an easy task, however, as cybercrime is rampant, making network protection and other cybersecurity aspects mandatory for any online business owner.

Often, threat actors exploit domains with existing weaknesses, one of which has to do with the Domain Name System (DNS). So what can website owners do to confront related attacks? Resources such as DNS lookups and DNS databases may be of help. Let’s see how in this post.

What Makes the DNS Vulnerable?

Cybercriminals often abuse DNS infrastructure for two reasons, among others:

1.   It’s easy to manipulate DNS caches

A common way by which cybercriminals carry out DNS-based attacks is cache poisoning or spoofing. In fact, they manipulate DNS server settings to redirect Internet traffic meant for their owner’s websites to go to their specially crafted malicious pages instead. That puts not just the affected organizations in a bad light (in terms of reputation) but also their customers at considerable risk of becoming cybercrime victims.

2.   The DNS carries important details that travel through internal to external servers and vice versa

Cybercriminals are also known for launching DNS tunneling attacks. Once they infiltrate an organization’s DNS server, they can easily compromise all the hosts connected to it. They then set up new domains and create additional authoritative name servers that they use to extract proprietary information without the DNS server’s owner knowing.

In light of the inherent weaknesses that may be present in organizations’ DNS infrastructure, regular DNS server monitoring aided by a DNS lookup tool like Reverse IP/DNS API and a data feed like DNS Database Download may be in order.

Using Reverse IP/DNS API and DNS Database Download for Cybersecurity Reconnaissance

Organizations’ security teams can get more detailed information, along with hints of attacks or attempts on their DNS infrastructure, if they use the right tools. Find out how below.

1.   DNS lookups help users spot bad neighbors

Amid the ever-increasing volume and sophistication of threats, many companies began implementing very aggressive security protocols that include IP-level blocking. Sadly, even organizations that don’t engage or have ties to malicious activity can become inaccessible because they share an IP address with a harmful domain. This scenario alone highlights the importance of knowing who your infrastructure “neighbors” are and what they’re up to.

DNS lookup tools like Reverse IP/DNS API lists all of the domains hosted on the same IP address. With its help, you can dig further into your online neighbors’ doings. You can thus determine if any of the domains on your shared IP address is blacklisted. As has been said, that may cause your domain to end up on a blocklist as well.

Let’s take a look at an example. Say that you are using a domain hosted on the IP address 64[.]71[.]35[.]51. You decided to determine if any of the domains on your shared IP address is malicious. Just type the IP address on Reverse IP/DNS API, you should get a list containing 109 records. You can use a solution like Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) to identify ties to malicious activity, if any. You will then find out that the domain supcargo[.]com with which you share your IP address in this hypothetical scenario appears on VirusTotal, a well-known malware blacklist. If any of your customers or subscribers employ IP-level blocking measures, they won’t be able to access your website either.

2.   DNS databases augment much-needed threat intelligence

Like Reverse IP/DNS API, DNS Database Download can also provide cybersecurity researchers with data to spot domain connections to malicious IP addresses. The database, which comes in the comma-separated values (CSV) or MySQL file format, can be integrated into existing solutions as a data source. It can help users identify all domains that have ties to IP addresses cited in publicly accessible threat data repositories as identified by a domain reputation lookup product.

Security analysts can also use the DNS database to check for modifications made to their organizations’ DNS records on dates that do not match their actual update dates (as this could be a sign of an ongoing DNS attack).

Cybercriminals are always uncovering more weaknesses that they can exploit for profitable illegal activities. Regular DNS infrastructure monitoring with the aid of DNS lookups and databases can thus help cybersecurity experts keep their networks threat-free.

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.