The Domain Name System (DNS) as the Internet’s phonebook makes an online entity’s domain a critical component of its infrastructure. Its functionality and importance are discussed in detail in this DNS Primer. Overall, any company that wants to make its online presence felt needs to ensure that its domain remains accessible to intended audiences and potential customers at all times.
That fact, however, also makes an organization’s domain a prime cyber-attack target as evidenced by the following figures:
- One in four of the millions of registered fraudulent domains has a security certificate.
- More than 90% of fraudulent domains remain active on a live server.
- More than 15% of fraudulent domains have mail exchange (MX) server records.
To date, DNS attacks cost victims an average of US$1.07 million per incident, highlighting the need for effective DNS security. To help organizations maintain the integrity of their business gateways—their domains—we looked at five of the best DNS lookup tools that they can consider using.
DNS Lookup API
DNS Lookup API allows users to gather complete details about any domain. It gives off the owner’s IP address, nameserver and MX server details, and other relevant records, including TXT and A records. Its database contains information on more than 1.2 billion domains and subdomains. It also contains more than 200 million nameserver records and over 150 million MX records that are updated daily.
DNS Lookup API is one of the best DNS lookup tools in the market today because it allows cybersecurity professionals to deal with network and security issues such as spam and DDoS attacks. It also provides network administrators with a deeper understanding of the health and integrity of their organizations’ IT infrastructure.
As it is a RESTful API, it is especially suitable for use in automated solutions like scripts or programs. A sample lookup for google.com will get you this result, which essentially clues users into the health and integrity of the domain at the time it was queried.
For comprehensiveness, DNS lookup API can be used together with Reverse IP/DNS API. This second tool has extended reverse DNS lookup capabilities to better identify connections between IPs and hostnames in either JSON or XML format.
Dig, short for “Domain Information Groper,” is a network administration command-line tool that is useful for network troubleshooting since it can flag arguments. It can also operate in batch mode by reading requests from OS files.
If a specific nameserver is nonexistent through a command invocation, Dig uses the OS’s default resolver. If there are no arguments found, it queries the DNS root zone. It is used because it supports internationalized domain name (IDN) queries. It gets information, including host addresses, nameservers, and mail exchange (MX) servers, within milliseconds.
Dig is available on Unix, Linux, and Mac OS. On Windows systems, a similar command-line utility “nslookup” is available for the same goal, which is also there on Unix-style systems as a legacy command.
MXToolbox allows users to run a domain health check. Running it helps cybersecurity professionals identify if a system is working at a satisfying level. This tool scans a DNS database to gather web hostnames and MX and NS records. It then identifies possible issues using the data gathered. The tool also documents how issues can be addressed.
When a particular server is blacklisted, for instance, MXToolbox identifies which blacklist it appears on and why then continually monitors the situation so it can readily alert the domain admin for changes.
DNSInspect is a free tool that allows users to run a health check on their domain servers for usual DNS and MX errors. Launched in December 2008, the tool searches for domain name data using more than 50 standard DNS tests. This tool analyzes a domain’s nameserver, MX, IPv6, and A records.
It also provides recommendations on how to approach identified DNS issues. While this lookup tool requires an account set-up, its comprehensive report makes the extra step worth it.
Whatsmydns.net is a widely used DNS lookup tool that allows users to quickly check a hostname’s present IP address and DNS information against random nameservers found worldwide. It can show domain name matches in about 30 countries on a map, so it is easy to see their locations. This feature is useful when there are changes in a DNS entry for a specific domain name since it can show where the changes resolve.
We hope that you will find this selection useful. Note that not all tools are created equal; capabilities and level of DNS information available varies. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, though. Your choice will likely depend on your needs.