Domain WHOIS contains information that explains who the owner is of the domain name. It is an international database and a domain WHOIS for every domain is required by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is the organisation that co-ordinates the use of IP addresses around the world, as well as the use of TLDs – top level domains.
The information contained in WHOIS data includes the name of the domain registrar, the IP address of the domain alongside the owner’s details – email, phone and physical address. WHOIS also includes the name servers for the domain plus the date on which the domain was registered, and the date on which this registration expires.
There is a reason for making this information public: it enables the easy confirmation of the status for a domain, including the owner behind the domain. It helps put trust in the users of domains, while fighting fraud and helping authorities to perform legal investigations. That said, it could be argued that WHOIS presents a threat to free speech and the anonymity of domain owners.
Note that the term WHOIS can also refer to the communications protocol itself, in other words, the protocol which facilitates the exchange and storage of WHOIS data in the publicly accessible database of WHOIS information.
Every good domain registrar will offer its customers the ability to manage their WHOIS – it’s called WHOIS management. It allows customers to control specific information that is part of the public WHOIS database. Customers can usually make changes to WHOIS information using their web host’s Control Panel. Any user-friendly hosting control panel will allow unfettered access to domain information and domain settings.
Protecting your domain WHOIS
Domain WHOIS protection is also known as domain privacy protection. It is a service that allows domain owners to hide the real WHOIS data behind their domains. Hiding this data means that the domain owner is protected from a range of threats, including hacking, fraud and spam.
Because WHOIS information is public and accessible to anyone on the internet it is worth thinking about protecting your domain WHOIS information against rogue parties who just need to do a basic WHOIS lookup to find your WHOIS details.