Search Open Technical Databases: WHOIS
Before compromising a victim, adversaries may search public WHOIS data for information about victims that can be used during targeting. WHOIS data is stored by regional Internet registries (RIR) responsible for allocating and assigning Internet resources such as domain names. Anyone can query WHOIS servers for information about a registered domain, such as assigned IP blocks, contact information, and DNS nameservers.
Adversaries may search WHOIS data to gather actionable information. Threat actors can use online resources or command-line utilities to pillage through WHOIS data for information about potential victims. Information from these sources may reveal opportunities for other forms of reconnaissance (ex: Active Scanning or Phishing for Information), establishing operational resources (ex: Acquire Infrastructure or Compromise Infrastructure), and/or initial access (ex: External Remote Services or Trusted Relationship).
This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls. Efforts should focus on minimizing the amount and sensitivity of data available to external parties.
Much of this activity may have a very high occurrence and associated false positive rate, as well as potentially taking place outside the visibility of the target organization, making detection difficult for defenders.
Detection efforts may be focused on related stages of the adversary lifecycle, such as during Initial Access.