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Go Daddy bans DNS harvesting

Kevin Murphy, November 9, 2011, Domain Tech

Go Daddy is blocking companies from harvesting its DNS records, the company has confirmed.

CTO Dave Koopman denied that Go Daddy has a “DNS Blackouts” policy, but confirmed that it has banned certain IP addresses from doing DNS queries for its customers’ domains. He wrote:

The rumor about “DNS Blackouts” was started by someone using Go Daddy servers to cache all Go Daddy DNS records on his personal servers for financial gain.

Back to our previous example of 100 queries a day. Instead of one person accessing 100 domain names, this individual was attempting to download tens of millions of Go Daddy DNS records – twice daily. While his behavior did not cause any system issues, we felt it best to revoke access to the offending IPs.

If Go Daddy finds unwanted activity in our network, Go Daddy takes actions to stop it.

That appears to be a reference to a blog post from DNSstuff.com founder R Scott Perry, who complained in early September about what he called a “Selective DNS Blackouts” policy.

Perry suggested that Go Daddy was trying to drum up interest in its Premium DNS service by providing poor DNS service to regular customers.

Blocking DNS queries from selected IP addresses draws to mind Go Daddy’s policy of banning DomainTools and other companies from harvesting Whois records in bulk.

In January, the company confirmed, that it was blocking commercial Whois aggregators including DomainTools. The ban appears to still be in affect for non-paying DomainTools users.

Like DomainTools, DNSstuff.com offers DNS monitoring and alerts for premium fees.

DomainTools opens massive email record database

Kevin Murphy, August 29, 2011, Domain Services

DomainTools has opened up a huge database that matches domain names to the mail servers they use.

A search on ReverseMX.com for a domain name returns the mail servers that domain uses. In reverse, you can search for a mail server or IP address and find out which domains use it.

For example, a query for one of Google’s mail servers will spit back a short list of some of the domains that use Google for their email, along with an aggregate domain count.

DomainTools said in a press release:

ReverseMX can be used by a wide audience – basically anyone interested in researching the footprint of small or large email providers. For example, users can analyze which mail servers’ domains are using certain email providers, or how Microsoft’s hosted email is doing against Gmail or Yahoo.

The data currently covers the 130 million domains registered under .com, .edu, .net, .org, .info, .biz, and .us – the largest TLDs for which zone files are freely available.

DomainTools has already uncovered a few interesting factoids, such as that 30 million domain names use Go Daddy for their email, making it easily the largest provider.

The service also interrogates domains’ SPF records to work out which IP addresses are authorized to send email for any given domain.

I can imagine ReverseMX being useful for researchers in the security industry (and their spammer adversaries?).

But unlike DomainTools’ other services, it does not immediately appear to be something that many people in the domain name industry will find themselves using on a daily basis.

DomainTools doubles prices, relaunches site

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2011, Domain Registrars

Whois specialist DomainTools has revamped its web site and raised the price of its services.

The price increase is quite substantial. The cheapest paid-for tier appears to be the $30-a-month Standard Membership, a 100% increase on the old $15 basic package.

Existing members have been grandfathered in at their current rates. DomainTools said that it’s the first price increase in five years.

It does appear that subscribers may get more bang for their buck under the new tiers. At least, my subscription appears to be buying me more services than it was before the relaunch.

But that may be because I was never entirely clear what I was paying for. The confusing old “unit”-based pricing has gone, and the new site is a lot clearer about what you get for the money.

Many of the other changes appear to be cosmetic. The site does look a bit slicker than before, while retaining its familiar look-and-feel.

The company also appears to have sorted out its dispute with Go Daddy, which recently started blocking Whois aggregators including DomainTools.

A few test look-ups I did for domains registered at Go Daddy returned full Whois results, not the stubs it was delivering following the block.

Given that registrars are allowed to charge $10,000 a year for access to bulk Whois records, I’m tempted to draw a connection between the Go Daddy situation and the price increase, but I have no hard information to support that conclusion.

UPDATE: I’ve heard from DomainTools that the Go Daddy situation has not yet been resolved.

DomainTools subscribers currently see full Whois records when they search for domains registered at Go Daddy. In order to throttle the vast majority of the traffic the site sends to Go Daddy’s servers, non-subscribers are still receiving incomplete data.

The dispute is evidently more complex than a simple $10k shakedown.

What’s wrong with M+M’s defensive reg report?

Kevin Murphy, February 28, 2010, Domain Policy

Minds + Machines has released a report into defensive domain name registrations by the largest 100 US companies. While I generally agree with its conclusions, I’m pretty certain I don’t trust the numbers.

The company, which has a financial interest in the new gTLD launches, plugged 1,043 Fortune 100 brands into DomainTools.com in order to figure out how many of them were registered.
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