Domain Whois

Domain Whois

Domain Whois is as a protocol that allows users to check the availability and information associated with a domain. In other words, it allows people to identify who owns a particular domain and how they can be contacted.

The registration and ownership of domains lie solely on The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Whois was established years ago and was originally put to work on the Network Control Program (NCP). However, we didn't see its potential until the Internet Protocol (IP) was created.

What information can be obtained from a Whois database?

The Whois database contains a bit of personal and contact information about the individual or company that registered the domain name. Personal information would include the name of the registrant and of course, contact information would be phone number and/or email.

In addition, it will also include the name of the owner, the date the domain was registered, server names and a recent update, as well as the domain's expiration date. Contact information for admin and technical support can be found in some cases.

Whois models

There are two well-known models for storing records on Domain Whois, namely the Thin and Thick models.

Let’s review the two briefly:

  • Thin model:The thin model contains only basic information regarding the Whois owner like date of registration, the name of registrar and server name. If you require additional information, you can find them using the thick model.
  • Thick model:A thick model typically contains records that cannot be found in the thin model, for example, information on technical and administrative personnel, contact information etc.

It is imperative to always adhere to the ICANN rules and keep your information on the database up to date and you can do so via your account on your registrar's database.

Use cases of Domain Whois

  • The Whois database allows interested parties to determine if a database is still available. If you’re interested in buying a domain name, you should check the database to see if it’s available.
  • If you run into any technical issues, you can easily contact the administrator or technical support since their contact details are specified in the database. For instance, routing issues or when networks are at risk of attack
  • Registration issues or disputes can be resolved through Whois database because information on the date of registration and registrar name is explicitly stated.
  • The Whois database helps you to identify the location and identity of business and organizations online. You can also contact and negotiate with domain name registrant regarding a domain name of interest
  • Law enforcement agents use Whois to track down cybercriminals by using the email in the database
  • Whois makes it easy to identify spammers and users with malicious online behaviour.

It is important to note that there is little to no privacy on the Whois domain as anyone can look up information on the status of a domain name on their database. ICANN has mandated all information regarding the owners of domains and the managers to be made readily available on Whois records.

However, some private domain registrars offer a premium service which allows them to hide the name and contact information of the registrant but reveal that of themselves.

Sadly, this does not guarantee 100% anonymity as in some cases; registrars may be mandated by law to provide this information.