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Domain Name Basics - WHOIS

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WHOIS is a short introduction. It is meant to be an overview and training material for newcomers. This presentation is not intended to be exhaustive.

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Domain Name Basics - WHOIS

  1. 1. Domain Name Basics WHOIS Tobias Sattler
  2. 2. 2 What is WHOIS? WHOIS is a protocol to query databases, such as domain names, IP addresses or autonomous system (AS) and is documented in Request for Comment (RFC) 3912. WHOIS has its roots in 1982, when Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published a protocol for a directory service for ARPANET users. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) runs a WHOIS service as a starting point and references to Regional Internet Registries (RIR) and Domain Name Registries. All gTLD and most of ccTLD Registries are running a WHOIS service for their Top-Level-Domains (TLD).
  3. 3. 3 Two WHOIS models The two common models to run a WHOIS are often characterized as ‘thin’ or/and ‘thick’:  A thin registry only includes technical data sufficient to identify the sponsoring registrar, status of the registration, and creation and expiration dates for each registration (e.g. .com, .net).  Thick registries maintain the registrant’s contact information and designated administrative and technical contact information, in addition to the sponsoring registrar and registration status information (e.g. .club, .org). ICANN accredited Registrars are maintaining a WHOIS service for their sponsoring gTLD domains, if the operating Registry is ‘thin’. Almost all gTLDs have a thick WHOIS.
  4. 4. 4 How is WHOIS working? Source: - Effective 03/2016
  5. 5. 5 WHOIS has been in the spotlight It can create privacy issues which are tied to free speech and anonymity. According to law enforcement it is an important tool to investigate spam and phishing, and to track down the domain name holder. Registries and Registrars are restricting the access to their WHOIS and especially ccTLD registries are protecting the data by disclosing only the bare minimum of information, while gTLD registries and registrars are bound by ICANN contracts to provide complete and validated contact details. Therefore many Registrants are willing to use WHOIS Privacy and Proxy Services to hide there data from the public.
  6. 6. 6 Accuracy of Information ICANN is enforcing Registrars to provide complete, validated and verified WHOIS data for gTLD domains. This includes the presence of data for all fields in a proper format and to verify either the email address or the telephone number of the domain name holder. Many ccTLDs Registries are also imposing Registrars to do the same that they are doing for gTLDs, however some ccTLDs are preforming their own checks, such as local address databases. If WHOIS information found to be inaccurate, registrant are compelled to update their data. If this fails because the registrant is not reachable then this could lead to a suspension.
  7. 7. 7 Future of WHOIS The ICANN Expert Working Group recommended 2013 that WHOIS should be scrapped and proposed a system that keeps information secret from most Internet users, and only discloses information for ‘permissible purposes’. In 2015 the IETF standardized the Registration Data Access Protocol (RDAP) and it should become a successor to WHOIS. It is yet to be determined if RDAP will succeed to fully replace WHOIS, because there are still open security and privacy questions, a lot of services are built on WHOIS and it will probably take a long time to adapt.
  8. 8. Thank you!