Domain names are one of the essential components of the internet as they work as the backbone for a site and company. A website domain acts as the address of that business or company on the internet, and through that, we get all the information about a company or the product that they are making or displaying on the web. Without a domain, we wouldn’t be able to send an email, connect to various social media platforms and of course, go through any of the web pages for any information that we need regarding any product or business that we wish to inquire about.
Registering Domain Names
With time things have gotten more accessible for people when it comes to purchasing a domain name or with the process of registering for a domain. In the early days, registering a domain was a tiring and time-consuming task. This wasn’t the only problem faced by the people; back then, the domains were not even available to everyone. Nowadays anyone can register a domain in their name at a small amount of money that they have to pay yearly.
What is WHOIS?
Whenever you plan on to register for a domain, there is much information that you have to provide to the website that you are using for the registration. These details are known as “WHOIS information.” This information includes the standard information about the person who is applying for the registration such as their name, email address, telephone number, address, city, and the country they belong to. It also includes some other details such as the registration details, update date, expiration date, and name servers. These records come in handy when a person is trying to register for a new domain as they can look up the domain name on these WHOIS websites to find information on the domains if there is any. This helps them to avoid any lawsuits that can be filed against them for misuse of the domains or for providing any false information.
WHOIS Information is Transparent
WHOIS records also include technical as well as administrative contact information which often matches with the personal contact information that is provided on the websites. This information is published by all domain registration providers and is made available to everyone over the internet for transparency purposes and a clean work environment and trade environment.
This information is regulated and required by the ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). It is a non-profit organization that is responsible for taking care of the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the name and numerical spaces of the internet making sure that the network is operating securely and it is stable.
WHOIS records were introduced because domain users were often worried about their personal details being made available to the public so to avoid this, they use WHOIS protection services so that only the generic and relevant data is shown and the personal details are kept hidden and safe. This is a helpful technique to avoid getting spammed, however many hackers and cybercriminals use the very same WHOIS services to hide their real identity and try to misuse the information available on the web. This is where the WHOIS records come in play and save the data as these records can reveal much information by tracking down their digital footsteps.
How was WHOIS Introduced?
The WHOIS services were introduced because of ICANN(Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) as they require every single domain to be up-to-date and with valid WHOIS information for the people as well as the domain registrars.
Earlier the domain registering process was lengthy, but now with the help of WHOIS, it has become more comfortable. If a person has registered for a domain in the past and wishes to do so again, then using WHOIS you can get all the current information about the person, and this helps in a faster and more comfortable process to register for another domain.
Since the records already exist in the WHOIS services and with the help of whois lookup anyone can get all the information you need about the present owner of the domain as well as check if the domain is registered previously under any other name or by any other person to avoid future conflicts.
Significance of WHOIS
WHOIS services are of considerable importance to the people who are trying to get a domain registered as well as to the domain registering websites.
The information provided by the person during the registration process of the domain is used to validate the domain in various stages, and this information also comes in handy whenever any dispute arises about the domain name. Providing all the information to the registrar( the website you are using for your domain registration) and verifying it is very important. If you do not check the information provided to the registrar, the domain, and your webpage, both will get suspended, and you won’t be able to use the domain email as well. A lot of big websites have faced issues and were shut down because of this mistake they made.
There are times when you can encounter some problems with your domain, especially legal ones such as a spam or copyright issue, then using that information from WHOIS you are contacted. In case you fail to respond to those emails, it can lead to your domain being taken offline which is another painfully long battle that you’ll have to face to get your domain back up and working again.
Transfer of Domain Names
Whenever a person plans to transfer a domain from one registrar to the other, there are several problems faced by the person. Those who have gone through this process understand the trouble.
This information available on WHOIS sites comes in handy and helps the process of transferring the domain a little bit easier. Part of this transfer is to reach out to the contact mentioned in the WHOIS information and send them an email and get them to verify and approve the transfer of the mentioned domain.
Using WHOIS to track Illegal Content
WHOIS data is also used to find those domain name registrants who may be posting illegal content on their web page or may be trying to encourage to spam people. WHOIS data also helps various network administrators to find any problems in the system and try to fix them to maintain internet stability.
DNS, IP, and WHOIS tools are the best tools that a business or a person can use to track any illegal or unusual activity related to their domain name or any domain name that they wish to inquire about.
WHOIS Information for Trademarks & Copyright
The registrars of domains are not the only one who uses domain WHOIS, in fact, many trademarks and copyright agents, as well as banks and financial companies, can also use these tools to protect their customer’s information.
How can you lookup WHOIS?
WHOIS lookup is a tool which is used to find information about any domain by using any keyword along with the domain extension such as .com, .net, .org after it to get the information about the owner of the domain or to check whether that domain is available for use or not. There are times when some domain owners use proxy services for the security of their personal information.
WHOIS lookups were earlier performed with a command line interface, but it was hard to work with as it includes working with the command line interpreter and every query had to be entered manually. This interpreter would accept the commands as text input and convert those commands into appropriate operating system functions. This was a time-consuming task and took a long time to give the results. However, with time, various websites worked to find an alternative to this problem and launched various web-based tools that would help in making this task easier.
WHOIS is a database that consists of various sets of records for each query that we enter. These records consist of all the information about the resource and any other information that is related to the resource such as the information about the registrars and the owners of the domain, date of updation and expiry of the domain.
There are two types of data models that are available for these WHOIS lookup. These are named as Thin Lookups and Thick Lookups.
Under thick WHOIS lookup, the server stores the complete WHOIS information from all the registrars on a single server. Hence it ensures consistent data and faster response to the queries. In a situation where the registrar goes out of business, all the information will be present in the thick registry.
However, it’ll only be available if the registrar has entered all the correct data, and no data protection software is used to keep the data hidden. In this case, all the information can be retained from the WHOIS record and can be used by the person.
On the other hand, in thick lookup, the server stores only some part of the information on the system and there is a chance that the contact information might not be available for the people to use. This can make it difficult for the rightful registrant to gain control of that domain and use it. If a WHOIS client was not able to understand the issue and how to deal with it, then it will show the full information of the registrar.
However, there is no standard for how to differentiate between the thick model lookup and thin model lookup in the WHOIS lookup protocol.
The details of the records which are stored may vary among different domain name registries as some top-level domains including .com and .net operate on thin WHOIS maintaining the privacy of the customers. Moreover, some global level registries, including .org, operate on thick WHOIS. Apart from this, each country code level registry has its own rules and regulations.
Various websites that offer the WHOIS lookup tool are mentioned below:
Earlier the web-based WHOIS clients were front end users who used a command line interpreter to get the results about the information that they needed on a particular domain, and those results were displayed on the screen as a web page with very little information.
With time various registrars came up with new ways to fix this problem, and they reached the solution of making the WHOIS lookup sites to help to provide information to the web-based client as well.
However, everything good comes with criticism, and WHOIS faced the same issues as well. It was of great help to the people, but their most significant problem was the lack of access to the data. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN) required the registrars and domain owners to make their mailing address, telephone numbers, and email address available for anyone who queries the WHOIS servers. However, this also made these owners a target of spammers, direct marketers, and cybercriminals as they could use this information for their advantage or even misuse it. To fix this problem, some domain registrars came forward and provided the facility of private registrations. This meant that the contact information that would be available with the domain would be of the registrar and not of the owner of the domain. This offer helped to reduce some risks.
WHOIS 2.0 is an updated version of WHOIS, and it provides a flexible and programmable API to query WHOIS servers. It also offers a command-line interface to run WHOIS queries. The updated version has improved from the previous one.
The stats are listed below:
1. Around 866,706 WHOIS records to search from as analyzed on March 16th,2011
2. 444 fixture files extracted from real WHOIS records
3. ¬20,000 lines of codes, including the test files
4. 168 different WHOIS parsers
and many more new features.