Hello, my name is Nikola. Isn’t it nice to start every conversation like this, by introducing yourself to other people? Heck, even web servers do it with their SYN SYN ACK ACK (geeky stuff!) – why shouldn’t websites also introduce themselves to you?
You might think that this is somewhat of an overkill; after all, you know the domain name and the site itself might contain the name of the owner. But still, is there something else you might find out, something that might be of some value to you? Yes there is, and it is called the domain name’s WHOIS record.
WHOIS The Real Owner Of The Site
Have you ever wondered who the owner of a site is, who was the one to register the domain name for it? Of course you did and you probably went to the About page. But – it was empty. Now what?
Your first clue should be WHOIS information. WHOIS is a query protocol that will give you some information on a domain name of interest – who registered it and when, when the domain will expire etc. Meaning, you enter a domain name into this specialized search engine and you’ll get the name of the registrant (the domain owner) and sponsoring registrar (the service provider). Privacy issues, anyone? More on that later.
Contents Of WHOIS Record
When you get your search results back, there are several things you can learn from them. First is the registrar – telling you which one was used to get this domain name. There will also be a list of name servers, which you can use to find out which hosting company is hosting that site!
The creation date and expiration date of the domain are listed as well. Next up, there are four types of contact information you’ll see: Registrant, Administrative contact, Billing contact and Technical contact. the Registrant is the person who actually registered the domain name. It’s probably the same person as the Administrative contact.
You can see that your email addresses and phone numbers are listed here, and that might be a privacy issue for you. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to register a domain name without revealing your contact information.
Private Domain Registration
Yes, WHOIS databases might be a heaven for spammers, as it’s very easy to get to owners e-mail address and phone number. So, registrars will try to provide something called private domain registration. It’s an option in the agreement between the registrant (i.e. you) and the registrar; they will register a domain for you which you will be able to use, but they will be the owners of it. You will still need to register a domain yourself, but before the checkout, you will have the option to choose private domain registration.
This might be inconvenient because – what if your domain gets super popular? Or what if the registrar bankrupts and closes? You should be the owner of your domains, not some company. After all, if someone wants and needs to get your information – it will. Those registrars are obliged by law to give out that information to the police, so your private domain registrations might not be as private as you think.
So… have you ever WHOIS-ed anyone?