TMCnet Feature
July 19, 2019

Domain Reputation API: The Importance of Predictive Scoring to Cybersecurity

Nowadays, it can be quite difficult to tell if a website can be trusted or not. Cybercriminals make their domains as innocent-looking as possible to bring in people whom they can deceive. You may find a landing page respectable, yet it actually carries malware that can steal your personal data.

With the growing sophistication and skill sets of threat actors, organizations will need to have a reliable and automated approach to assess the risks involved in accessing domains prior to engagement. Doing so will allow them to carry out suitable preventive security measures in case the websites are deemed harmful.

One way experts see as an effective method to accomplish this is through domain reputation scoring.

What Is Domain Reputation Scoring?

It is the concept wherein a domain reputation API or a similar program is able to assess the reputation of a domain or IP address using a set of comprehensive data sources. The output of such a tool is known as a reputation score that can then be used to accept or reject connections. Compared with a simple blacklist protocol, reputation scoring lets users tailor their security measures according to the level of risk detected.

Domain reputation scoring is considered an important addition to a company’s security toolset as it allows it tighter control of its network. The process relies on an automated system that performs domain risk evaluations. It is especially useful for businesses that jump from one domain to another when conducting transactions as it provides insights on a website’s trustworthiness even before it is visited.

Email marketers can also benefit from domain reputation scoring. To find out more on this, read this article.

What’s Wrong with Traditional Domain Reputation Scoring?

A majority of reputation scoring tools today use a reactive rather than a predictive approach. These systems assign risk levels depending on previously observed domain characteristics. For instance, a site that has been reported for hosting malicious software or is a known botnet attack staging area will obviously have a low score.

The problem with this technique is that it heavily relies on known or reported harmful activities. This delay presents major risks, especially since cybercriminals can quickly register new websites, carry out foul deeds, and just abandon them as soon as these are blocked.

A Predictive Domain Reputation API Is the Solution

As you may have guessed by now, predictive domain reputation is far more useful in terms of preventing a cybersecurity breach. A domain reputation API that provides predictive reputation scoring capability can assign risk scores to domains as soon as they are registered.

The system utilizes a dynamic domain database that has been configured to provide almost real-time registration information, regardless of extension used. This speeds up detection and aids in prevention. In addition, the domains in its database are regularly reevaluated to achieve consistency with regard to scores over time.

Predictive risk scoring can be quite valuable to integrate into network-based security systems like firewalls and proxy servers in order to prevent intrusions. What makes it indispensable is its ability to protect users against dangerous domains even before they are flagged. Using predictive scoring minimizes the vulnerability window of systems and devices connected to a network.

More advanced domain reputation APIs rely on the so-called “proximity to known danger” algorithm. To learn more about this, read on.

What Is Proximity to Known Danger?

Cybercriminals are known for using several domains for their scams. The proximity to known danger algorithm can identify all the domains that are connected to the same owner. That said, all of them will get the same score when evaluated.

The proximity to known danger algorithm is also applied to IP addresses and name servers that host malicious domains. The higher the concentration of bad domains associated with an IP address or name server, the higher its risk score is.


As human beings, it can be hard to tell if a website is harmful or not, regardless of technical expertise. The value of a domain reputation API is that it provides anyone with the capability to assess domains as soon as they are registered, allowing him to make informed decisions before clicking a link.

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 Whois API Inc. family which is a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.

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