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Find out if websites are secure with the help of a threat intelligence platform

A solution like the Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) inspects a site’s Domain Name System (DNS) and WHOIS records and more.

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It’s hard to tell these days if websites are indeed threat-free. In fact, legitimate sites that most users deem safe may have hidden security flaws. Such pages, for instance, may have dangling pointers to old product pages that developers have forgotten about. Other websites, meanwhile, may be unknowingly using leaky plugins that enable hackers to steal visitors’ personally identifiable information (PII). According to a study, 60% of organizations suffered a breach due to unpatched vulnerabilities.

While there is no such thing as a silver bullet in cybersecurity, incidents can be mitigated or even avoided with accurate threat intelligence. More specifically, here’s how to check a site’s security using a threat intelligence platform.

4 Things to Consider to Determine If a Website Is Safe to Visit

Below are some domain settings to look into in case you’re wondering if a website you own or frequently visit is secure.

  • Domain Reputation

A healthy domain does not share a host with malicious IP addresses. Moreover, its security licenses and resource records should point to the right certificate authorities (CAs) or name servers, respectively. When a site doesn’t meet any of these criteria, its reputation score suffers. As a result, search engines might de-index or add it to their blacklist.

  • WHOIS Records

A website’s domain age and registration details can reveal a lot about its reputation. Through a WHOIS lookup, users can retrieve a domain’s registration data to find out when it was created and will expire, who its registrant is, where it was registered, and what its hostnames are, among others. With these details, users can investigate further to deduce what a website is for and if its owners have ties to criminal networks or attacks.

  • SSL Certificates

SSL certificates are installed on a company’s servers to encrypt their connections to user agents. Trusted CAs should issue these certificates, from the intermediate certificate issuer (the domain owner) to the root CA. Your browser validates each certificate by checking for the signature of the succeeding CA in the chain and its corresponding public key. If one of the said certificates in the chain comes from a dubious CA, your browser will display a warning not to proceed and access the site.

  • Site Content

What you see on the outside may not be the same as what’s going on under the hood. Compromised sites may run scripts or download malware onto your computer without your knowledge. Executable files (.EXE), JavaScript (.JS), and batch files (.BAT) are just some file examples that cause malware infections and run commands in the background as you use your computer.

Where Threat Intelligence Platforms Come In

A solution like the Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP) inspects a site’s Domain Name System (DNS) and WHOIS records, SSL certificate chain, mail servers, and IP infrastructure. These tests identify possible indicators of compromise (IoCs) that you can correlate with known vulnerabilities and threats. In addition, the platform gathers information from some of the best threat intelligence sources that include spam and phishing blocklists and malware feeds and provide a comprehensive account for close to 120 factors.

Below is a sample output for the mobile gaming hub, zynga[.]com. The gaming company suffered a password breach in December 2019 that impacted 170 million of its users. Let’s find out if the company’s website has remaining security issues by running its domain in TIP.

According to the analysis, its connected IP addresses and domains are safe to access. The site doesn’t have exposed ports that would allow attackers to listen in or hack into. It also doesn’t host any dangerous content, such as EXE files or iframes (often used for malicious redirects without alerting users).

While the site passed the majority of the validation checks, the report displayed several warnings, though. Developers may want to look into Zynga’s mail and name servers and SSL certificate configurations: there are some shortcomings there which, though not dramatic, do still embody some risk. You can view the full report here.

Trustworthy sites make money. They get more views as their search engine ranking improves over time. They also steer clear of expensive penalties and compliance-related lawsuits. With the aid of threat intelligence platforms as part of their cybersecurity arsenals, users can ensure that their sites are both profitable and resilient to compromise.

Editor’s Note: 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.

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Chris has been blogging since the early days of the internet. He primarily focuses on topics related to tech, business, marketing, and pretty much anything else that revolves around tech. When he's not writing, you can find him noodling around on a guitar or cooking up a mean storm for friends and family.

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