What Is Whois?

Whois is a public directory that allows Internet users to get information on “who is” administering an IP address or a domain. What this means is, it is possible to lookup who owns a domain name as well as their personal information such as email address, full name, phone number, and home address.

However, after the GDPR that took effect on May 2018, a lot of information has become hidden about who owns a domain. This decision is a stop-gap put in place by ICANN while they deliberate on the best method to stay in compliance with GDPR policy regarding the Whois database. So, this information can be made publicly available again in the future by ICANN.

It is important to note that ICANN only controls the Whois policy regarding gTLDs. There are multiple ccTLDs that display domain owner information -in most cases, only when the owner is an organization or company. The information that is public and when it is displayed is decided upon by the ccTLD local registry.

What Is In A Whois Record?

WHOIS records typically contain all the contact information of the company, group or individual that purchases a specific domain name. In most instances, a WHOIS record will include information such as contact information of the registrant (the owner of a domain name) and the registrar’s ( service provider that registered the domain name on the database) contact information, expiration date, registration date, recent updates, and the name servers. In some rare cases, a WHOIS record may also include the technical and administrative contact information, which is often the registrants.

Whois Data Model

To store resource information, Whois uses two different data models: Thick Model and Thin models

Thin Model: a thin Whois search only provides registration dates, the registrar and name servers. To get more information, a secondary search at the registrar on file is needed to assess full details on domain name ownership.

Thick Model: this WHOIS model provides additional relevant details that are not accessible via a thin WHOIS lookup. These details typically include administrative, technical and registrant information. What this means is a thick WHOIS lookup will provide information such as when the domain name was registered, when it would expire, the name of the servers used and details on who owns the domain name.

What Is A Whois Domain Lookup?

With a WHOIS domain lookup, you can track the tenure of a domain name and its ownership. In the same manner that physical houses are registered with a governing body, who keeps a record of this registration, domain registrars are mandated to record and keep information regarding domain names purchased through them.

This information includes the purchase date and identity of the registrant. During domain name registration, you are required by ICANN to provide personal details that include your phone number, full name, address and so on. This information is automatically put up on the database that collates details regarding the owners of every domain name. This database is what it is referred to as Whois.

Looking up information on the WHOIS database can be done using an any of the available WHOIS lookup tools on the web (for example, www.name.com/whois-look up) or the terminal available on your PC (for tech-savvy individuals)

What Is The Purpose Of The Whois Lookup?

Over time, the function of WHOIS lookups has metamorphosed. Today, it is used for a couple of reasons, some of them include:

  • Preventing online fraud by helping users identify phishing attacks targeted at general login based interfaces or financial institutions on the web.
  • Tracing phishing attacks, hacking activities and spamming.
  • Aiding trademark agencies in the investigation of the abuse of trademarks by domain names such as the promotion of trademarks illegally, or the wrongful use of registered business product or names.
  • Aiding federal investigations into websites promoting illegal materials such as social discrimination, xenophobia, racial discrimination, child abuse, violence, child pornography, hate speeches, illegal drugs and so on.

Other Reasons For WHOis Lookup

If you would like to make an offer on a dominion that has been registered, by using the WHOIS lookup, you can easily get constant contact information of the owner such as telephone number, mailing address or email address so that you can make your offer.

The WHOIS lookup also allows you to verify if your registered domain name details are correct -because if they are not, you could miss partnership request, renewal notice, purchase offers and so on.

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Whois Privacy


Prevents Identity Theft:

Because your information is private, you will prevent identity theft. Cybercriminals aren’t always after credit card details only. Some of them steal personal information available to get unrestricted access, which they used to use for mischiefs or to cause trouble in your name

Reduced Spam:

One of the major advantages of private domain name registration is that you get to keep your personal contact information provided on the WHOIS database. The truth is, a lot of marketers use the WHOIS database to obtain personal information that is put into a list and sold to third-party organizations for email marketing. Which can increase the number of spam messages you get regularly. With your contact information private, marketers such as these won’t have access to your information.


Personal Information Can Still Be Publicly Available:

Although purchasing WHOis protection makes your personal information private, there have been instances where domain owners registration details are released without the knowledge of the domain name owner.

Your Business Can Come Across As Suspicious:

One of the major disadvantages of producing WHOis protection is that it could harm your business credibility. Some customers looking to purchase services and products from a website would do background research in order to find more information about the business. When they are unable to find information, they can become suspicious and not have faith in your business because they think you are out to dupe them.

WHOIS Domain

Why Is WHOIS Domain Privacy Important?

Control over personal information – if you are very concerned about privacy, then the use of primate domain registration will give you adequate control over your personal contact information.

In place of providing your personal information like home address, email your address and phone number – web users either get the details of your registrar or a proxy email address.