What Is a “WHOIS” and How to Protect Your Personal Contact Info


Applied to the world of domain names, a WHOIS is a directory that lists a domain’s legal and technical information. All registered domain names have an entry the WHOIS central database containing the personal contact information of the domain name registrant.

Read on to learn you why need valid and up-to-date WHOIS information as a domain owner, and what you can do to protect the personal contact information contained in your WHOIS.

How to Protect Your Personal Contact Info

Why is it important to have valid information in your WHOIS?

It is required by ICANN that all domains have valid information for WHOIS search.

Valid WHOIS information is also needed to conduct a domain name transfer. Additionally, it is used by law enforcement for criminal investigations, by the public to determine when a domain has expired, by anyone who wants to contact the domain name owner.

With this information, we can determine the owner of a domain name, its contact person in the event of a problem (the domain name administrative contact), and the technical contact administering the domain name.

What specific information does a WHOIS contain?

The fields displayed when viewing the WHOIS include the following elements:

  • The domain name consulted
  • The name, address, telephone number, fax number (if applicable), and email address of the domain name owner
  • The NIC IDs of the owner, technical contact, and billing contact
  • The addresses (or IPs) of the DNS servers
  • The creation, modification, and expiry dates of the domain name consulted in the WHOIS

When consulting the WHOIS for a particular domain name, if the WHOIS returns nothing, it is because the domain name is available for registration.

Here is an example of a WHOIS search result for the domain name astralinternet.com: http://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=astralinternet.com

So, does this mean anyone can see my WHOIS contact information?

Yes. It is required by ICANN that all domains have valid WHOIS contact information. However, you can use a private registration service like ID Protect to mask your identity in the WHOIS database (while still being complaint with all legal requirements). This protects you from spammers and thieves, and is an easy and cost-effective way to get peace of mind. Services like ID Protect hide your identity by providing proxy contact information in place of your actual contact information. Parties who want to contact you use the proxy information, which is then forwarded to the domain owner. To prove ownership of your domain when using a service like ID Protect, for example, temporarily disable ID Protect and then ask the verifying party to confirm their WHOIS registration details at whois.enom.com.

Don’t have your own domain name yet? Register for one here, and even get your own new .quebec domain name if you wish.