Whois and Whois Records Explained

By Kevin Quia  |  Apr 25, 2022

You may have heard of a Whois record if you’ve ever purchased a domain name. Each one provides a link between the person who owns the domain and the rest of the internet. In addition to connecting internet users with their sites, Whois records also have significant safety ramifications and can be used to combat fraud. Continue reading for a deep dive into how the Whois system works and some of its benefits.

What Is Whois?

Whois systems are used to list the identities of people or businesses that own domains. The Whois system can help maintain transparency in the domain name registration process when used properly.

What Is a Whois Record?

A Whois record has all of the information associated with the contact details of a person, company, or group that has registered a domain name. For example, some of the information included can be the individual's name or organization, how to get in touch with them, the name servers involved with the domain and when they were most recently updated, when the domain was registered, and when it expires.

In addition, Whois records can also provide technical and administrative contact information. This can be helpful, especially if the person who maintains the domain differs from the registrant.

The Different Whois Models: Thick and Thin

There are two different kinds of Whois models containing different amounts of information. One is referred to as “thin,” and the other is called “thick.”

Thin Model

When looking at the thin model, you only see the registrar's name, registration dates, and the name servers. If you want more information, you have to perform a secondary look-up at the registrar, which is the company that registers the domain.

Thick Model

You find more details within a thick Whois than what you get with a thin Whois record. With the extra details, you get additional information, such as who registered the domain, as well as technical and administrative contact info. You also get info regarding the domain's name servers, where the domain was registered, when the registration happened, and when it could expire.

How Whois Benefits Domain Owners

When you register with a Whois service, you put a stamp on your domain. This ensures that you are the owner and someone else won’t be able to claim the domain as their own. This could come in handy, particularly if someone tries to hack your domain and take it over. For example, if a cybercriminal obtains the login information you use to access your website creation tools, they could take over your domain, replacing your accountant with that of a business they sell the domain to. To an outside observer, it may look as if your domain belongs to that business, but you can prove you're the rightful owner because you registered it with a Whois Service.

How Whois Enhances the Safety and Stability of the Internet

There are several ways the Whois system can improve the experiences of both users and domain owners. For example, Whois can provide the following benefits:

  • Incident response teams, internet service providers, and network operators can get easy access to the contact information of domain owners if there’s an issue
  • Law enforcement can use Whois information to track down people who misuse websites
  • If a site were to be populated with content that infringed on the copyrights of someone else, the Whois contact information could be used to hold the individual responsible
  • If someone were to use a site to spread spam, officials could use the Whois information associated with the site to track them down
  • Anyone using a site to spread malware is easier to track down because law enforcement officials can use Whois data to pinpoint either them or an organization they’re associated with

Can You Hide Your Personal Information from the Whois System?

Yes, it’s possible to conceal personal contact information from the Whois database. This is typically done by contacting a registrar that puts their name and contact info in your Whois registration. This means that if somebody wanted to know who owned your domain, they would have to first go to the Whois system and then contact the registrar.

The Whois system helps make the internet a more transparent and secure place to purchase and register domain names. It also makes it easier for people or organizations that need to address issues with your site to get in touch with you. If you're in the market to buy a great domain, check out Aftermarket.com, where you can bid on premium domains, getting the URL you want at a price you can afford.