What is WHOIS Information?

WHOIS information provides details about domains across the internet. While it is possible to maintain your privacy when registering a domain, if you do not choose the option to keep your domain information private it will be accessible to anyone in the world. The WHOIS system began as a method for system administrators to obtain contact information for IP address assignments and domain name administrators.

Now there are a variety of uses for the WHOIS system which include:

  • Providing contact points for network operators, including ISPs and certified computer incident response teams.
  • Figuring out the registration status of a domain
  • Assisting law enforcement officials in their investigations of enforcing national and international laws such as counter terrorism offenses
  • Aid inquiries about trademark infringement
  • Contributing to user confidence in the internet by putting a name responsible with the content of a specific website. If there is a concern about the accuracy of specific content an internet user can use the information available in the WHOIS information to contact the website owner.
  • Safeguarding the interests of the public by assisting businesses and other organizations in fighting fraud

In general WHOIS information does not allow website owners to hide behind a cloud of secrecy, and must maintain a level of responsibility with the information that they post to the internet.

How to look up WHOIS information:

Thanks in large part to the many free websites on the internet, looking up WHOIS information is a breeze these days. Whois.net is one of the best and easiest to use websites when it comes to looking up WHOIS information. At this website users are able to enter a domain name in the search box and receive all of the pertinent information in the WHOIS.

Information included in the WHOIS:

When you perform a WHOIS lookup you will receive a lot of information about the specific website you are interested. A standard WHOIS lookup will return the following values (preview taken from WhoisInfo.ws):

Domain Name: EXAMPLE.COM
   Whois Server: whois.iana.org
   Referral URL: http://res-dom.iana.org
   Name Server: A.IANA-SERVERS.NET
   Name Server: B.IANA-SERVERS.NET
   Status: clientDeleteProhibited
   Status: clientTransferProhibited
   Status: clientUpdateProhibited
   Updated Date: 26-mar-2004
   Creation Date: 14-aug-1995
   Expiration Date: 13-aug-2011

As you can see from this example you will be given the registrar, name servers, date first registered, and the expiration date of the domain. There is another form of WHOIS lookup known as the IANA who is server, which returns a little bit more specific information about a domain:

whois -h whois.iana.org com

[Querying whois.iana.org]
% IANA WHOIS server
% for more information on IANA, visit http://www.iana.org
% This query returned 1 object

domain:       COM

organisation: VeriSign Global Registry Services
address:      21345 Ridgetop Circle
address:      Dulles Virginia 20166
address:      United States

contact:      administrative
name:         Registry Customer Service
organisation: VeriSign Global Registry Services
address:      21345 Ridgetop Circle
address:      Dulles Virginia 20166
address:      United States
phone:        +1 703 925-6999
fax-no:       +1 703 421-5828
e-mail:       info@verisign-grs.com

This WHOIS lookup will actually give you the contact information of the domain administrator allowing you to contact them about any issues you might have with their domain.

The WHOIS information is an important aspect of the domain registration process. Being able to access WHOIS information for any domain adds a level of security to the internet for its many users. No longer are webmasters able to hide behind a level of secrecy when posting content to the internet. Now when questionable, offensive, or even criminal content is posted to a website the proper authorities have a way to track who posted the material and take the appropriate actions against that individual.

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