Every time you register a domain name, you give your registrar your contact information, so it can be stored in the WHOIS database. But once your information is entered into WHOIS, your registrar won’t be the only one who can see your full name, address, email address, and telephone number. Anyone can do a WHOIS search and see every bit of contact information you’ve probably spent your whole life hiding from strangers on the internet. With so much at stake, it’s no wonder you want to learn more. To help you out, here are 10 quick and easy facts about WHOIS.
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10 quick facts about WHOIS
1. WHOIS is pronounced “Who is”
It’s not pronounced “WOYS” or “W.H.O.I.S” or any other creative variation. It’s just “who is”.
2. WHOIS is not an acronym
WHOIS looks like an acronym, but it isn’t. The name “WHOIS” stands for the beginning of the question that the database is designed to answer: “Who is the owner of this domain name or IP address?”
3. It’s easy to perform a domain search
If you want to see the contact information of the person who owns a particular website, all you have to do is find a domain lookup tool, like the one we have here at MonsterHost, and type the website into it. You don’t even need to own a website yourself to perform this search.
4. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees the WHOIS database
ICANN is also responsible for maintaining the database, as well as other databases that keep the internet stable and secure.
5. You’re not allowed to give a registrar fake contact information
Some people are so terrified by the possibility of their contact information being available on the internet that they’re tempted to give a registrar false information. But most registrars consider it a breach of contract to supply incorrect information, and when they realize that you’ve done this, they can cancel your domain name. After all the time and hard work you’ve put into building your brand, this would be catastrophic.
And ICANN requires WHOIS information to be accurate throughout the registration period of your domain name. So, if your contact information changes, you have to tell your registrar.
(Later in this guide, we’ll tell you how to legally hide your contact details on the WHOIS database.)
6. WHOIS prohibits you from using its records for marketing or spam
Under ICANN’s agreements, WHOIS may be used for any lawful purposes except to enable marketing or spam, or to enable high volume, automated processes to query a registrar or registry’s systems, unless you’re doing this to manage domain names. Of course, this doesn’t stop people from using the database for spam, anyway.
7. WHOIS does more than just show domain owners’ contact information
The database does more than just store domain names. The information in it also helps network admins find and fix internet problems, so we can enjoy a stable connection. WHOIS also helps us find out whether a domain name is available. And most importantly, the database also serves an essential legal purpose because it helps network administrators fight fraud, spam, and copyright issues.
8. The database can make it easier for domain hijackers to steal your domain
Domain hijacking is what it’s called when someone transfers your domain away from you without your consent. Most registrars lock your domain as soon as you buy it, so this reduces your chances of having your domain hijacked. But the WHOIS database makes you more vulnerable to domain hijacking, because it lists a lot of the information a hijacker needs to steal your domain.
This includes your contact information, your full name, your email address, when your domain was registered, and when your domain expires. With this information, a convincing hijacker with enough time could steal your domain from right under your feet.
9. There are “thin” and “thick” models for storing data on WHOIS
When you perform a search in the WHOIS lookup, you get limited information like the registrar, name servers, and registration dates of a domain. If you want more information than that, you’ll need to perform a secondary lookup at the registrar on file. With a thorough lookup, someone could find out your full name, where your domain is registered, what nameservers it uses, when it was registered, and when it expires.
10. WHOIS privacy is the only way to keep your data completely hidden on the WHOIS database – and it’s easy to get!
WHOIS privacy hides your data on the database. This is the only way to keep your contact information completely private when you own a domain. To get WHOIS privacy from MonsterHost, just contact our support team (We’re here 24/7!) and ask for WHOIS privacy. That’s it!
We also offer domain registration, web hosting, and tons of other features that our clients can’t stop raving about. So, once you’ve protected your domain, feel free to look around and see what else you like.
The WHOIS database performs an essential function on the internet. Unfortunately, this also exposes you to spam, identity theft, and domain hijacking. The best way to protect yourself is to get domain ID privacy when you register your domain.