You probably think WHOIS is this ancient querying technology with raw output. What good is that in today's world where all the buzz is about self-driving cars, robots and artificial intelligence? Well, WHOIS may not turn your smartphone into a lunar lander, but in some scenarios, when combined with WhoAPI, WHOIS can be a powerful tool.
What is WHOIS?
WHOIS is a protocol, most often used for querying databases that store information about owners of various Internet resources. This information can include: name, company name, state, country, address, phone number, email, city, and zip code. Other types of information can be queried such as bureaucratic information (date of registry, date of expiry, designated domain registrar) and technical information (nameserver). Suffice it to say, WHOIS has been around since the dawn of the web, and is a fundamental technology without which the web couldn’t function.
The entire story around WHOIS, their thick and thin models is reserved only for the real “WHOIS connoisseur” so I will spare you the details in this blog post. But then again if you plan to do this yourself, prepare to become one since there are all sorts of regulation changes ahead, like the one .com, .net and .jobs.
Why can’t I do that myself, WHOIS is easy?
In September 2017, there were over 331.9 million domain names across hundreds of TLDs and ccTLDs (country code top-level domain) across hundreds of domain registrars. If you are going to work with WHOIS data, the sheer scale of it can become somewhat of a problem if WHOIS isn't your core business. I know this for a fact because many of our clients from around the world use WHOIS and often they get tired of getting blocked by the registrars, dealing with different outputs, and other time-intensive issues. Just think about it, formatting is sometimes completely different and it's hard to get consistent data back. WhoAPI processes and filters that data to return it to you in a standardized way (JSON or XML) that you can depend on. This decision becomes easy when you know our prices start as low as $9 / month.
How can I use WHOIS data for my site?
Before we take you through examples of how our clients use WHOIS I have to address the elephant in the room. Spam. If you use WHOIS, you can get access to millions of email addresses making it easier to spam people. However, there are so many legitimate use cases benefitting everyone that banning WHOIS due to a few bad actors would be foolish. If anything, we can use WHOIS in preventing spam. So let's go through several use cases that our clients have demonstrated during the five year period since we started our company. In short, we allow our clients to make WHOIS requests while we parse the data and deliver it on a silver platter in less than a second.
With WhoAPI instead of getting a raw text file, you get machine-readable data, allowing your software to act and interact with this powerful information.
WHOIS API use cases
Previously I mentioned WHOIS could help in preventing spam. One of our clients just recently said to us that: ”The new product we built that uses WHOIS will stop phishing emails from sending users to fake websites.” If it could stop that, you can connect the dots on how it could help prevent spam.
Cybersecurity companies use our WHOIS API in JSON for connecting domains with the same perpetrator (think; Phishing, Email spoofing, Fraud prevention).
Government agencies use our parsed WHOIS API in tracking down criminals (think; child pornography, terrorism). Sure, it's harder when owner details are fake, but WHOIS still helps.
Fintech companies and banks use WHOIS in XML for validating domain names, their age, emails (and their owners) so that they can provide security in payments.
Large brands use our WHOIS API for finding domain names that are squatting on their brand name and selling fake products on that website. With WHOIS they can find the owner and contact them or the accredited domain registrar or web hosting company in order to take down the infringing website.
SEO companies use our JSON WHOIS for finding great domain names that are about to expire. This advantage may change in the future, but currently, Google is giving a better position to older domain names with history.
Web hosting companies use our API as a backup for providing domain availability checks. Recently one or our customers was in the process of selling their company. They used our WHOIS API as a 3rd party confirmation that the client was still hosting his website on their servers, and that he was in fact a real user (verifying owner details).
On top of these seven use cases, we've also encountered email marketing companies, website builders, domain registrars, developer freelancers (build simple various domain tools), research companies and many other. Once again, these are not examples where a single person has to manually check something, these are automated, usually red-flagged or white-flagged checks that are performed programmatically. Hence we've decided to post this and reach out to the readers of ProgrammableWeb.
What it really comes down to is that WhoAPI gives you access to a huge database of names and addresses mapped to website domains with a price point as low as $16 / month that is easy to use. As we pointed out, there are many different use cases, so it really depends on what your particular use case is. For more information visit our website where you can also reach out to us.