DomainTools 101: The Art of Tracking Threat Actors

Hack Days has become a quarterly tradition here at DomainTools, and although the “hack days” concept is now considered as cliche as owning a ping pong table and kegerator in the tech industry (check and check), there are a few things that make our own take unique. For example, rather than solely empowering our technical teams to participate, we also encourage cross-functional collaboration. These multi-faceted projects enable both sides of the house to innovate. As a result, many hack days projects evolve into DomainTools products and in-house improvements.

To sweeten the pot, our CTO Bruce always comes up with a few quick project categories that we vote on as hack days comes to a close. Now, as serious as we are about stopping cybercrime, we also enjoy the goofier things in life. Below are the category winning projects. A big thank you to all our team members who participated in hack days; we are already looking forward to our Q4 projects!



Testament to Your Leadership Award: “Nomad“ Mobile App 

– Kirk Leon Guerrero and Ray Henriksen


Engineers Kirk and Ray were interested in finding ways to grab DNS data on hard to reach domains (not included in public root zone files). Their solution was to pair Google’s Places API with our own Whois database for a powerful (and fun) mobile app. The app itself uses an algorithm that finds local businesses listed on Google’s Places and generates domain name guesses by deleting unusual characters (like dashes) from the business name and then appending the TLD (.com, .de, .bike, etc). The app compares the resulting domains with our Whois database to quickly capture the creation of new domains. This project won the “testament to your leadership award” because it was bold, challenging, and labor-intensive but not entirely without flaws.



Best Newbie Hack: DNS Video Game Explainer

– Josh Hou and Spencer Carstens


Explaining DNS can be a daunting and sometimes impossible task depending on your audience. Front-end developers Josh and Spencer took a stab at making DNS education fun and memorable with their DNS-themed video game. The game’s hero (let’s call him Bob) is on a tireless quest to resolve domain names, seeking help from upstream counterparts in his efforts to get reliable answers. Will Irene know the answer or will Bob have to go all the way to the Root? Every game comes out differently!


Illustration: Joaquim Marques Nielsen (


Best in Show: Office Morale Booster

– Greg Haas


As Greg is our expert in the sometimes-dry field of accounting, we give him a lot of credit for his creative pranks and culinary experiments (curried tuna with bacon and guacamole, anyone?). This quarter, Greg decided to present a subject that would have a noticeable and direct impact on office morale, and be a great complement to our kegerator and ping-pong table. Naturally, it is a fro-yo machine. Greg walked through a variety of financing options ranging from resource-reallocation to an employee funded option to make this dream a reality. (The real joke here is that our morale is already fantastic…not that anyone would object to a fro-yo machine, mind you.) Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in sharing this clever and refreshing presentation at your own office ([email protected]).