Domain names are on a first come first served basis, which means that anyone who acquires a particular domain name own them as long as they pay their dues and monthly fees to the registrar.
Part of the application process involves the interested party giving out their personal information for contact reasons. Once the registrar turns the web address over, the domain becomes legally theirs.
You may find yourself in situations where you're trying to look up domain information while biding your time to take the right action. If this is the case, read on and find out how you can do so.
Image source: Deposit Photos
How To Find Out Who Owns A Domain Name
Finding out contact details of a site owner is pretty easy. ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has a WHOIS system in place just for that need.
WHOIS is a database of all domain owners and their pertinent contact details. Users can perform a domain lookup by going to WHOIS sites such as Who.is or using tools like JsonWhois.io.
Essentially, WHOIS platforms answer the question of who owns a domain, the owner's IP address and contact details. Barring the owner using domain privacy service and proxies to hide their data, users will be able to get what they need quickly and easily.
These are the kinds of information that's usually listed in the WHOIS system:
- The owner's phone number and email address.
- Admin technical contact and billing contacts.
- Original registration date.
- Domain expiration date.
- Where the domain was registered.
IP address data may sometimes be revealed as well.
When Knowing The Domain Owner Can Be Useful
1. When An Individual, Entity or Organization Wants To Purchase The Registered Domain
This is commonplace for businesses, brands and companies who are transitioning from brick and mortar to a digital storefront. For example, the company name is We Buy Electronics, but unfortunately a registrant has already claimed webuyelectronics.com. If you're the company owner and would like to buy the domain name, then the first order of business is to make contact with the current domain owner.
What's more, having the perfect domain can prove to be extremely important for the business. Using the WHOIS system, entities can gather information on the owner and reach out with an offer before it expires or gets renewed.
2. When Domain Owners Need To Know If They're Being Represented Accurately Online
Site owners regularly check and see if their domains are entered into the registrar's platforms. This allows them to have a solid reference as to when their current contract is about to expire and receive timely updates about partnership requests, purchase offers and renewal notices, among others.
Managing a website means the people who own them must also do a WHOIS lookup every now and then.
3. When You Need To Protect Personal Information
Knowing your domain details from time to time allows for optimal protection, i.e., privacy controls. This is for the web owner's right to remain anonymous as his or her right.
How You Can Keep Your Own Domain Info Private
Web owners will have an option to keep their details private, which can be useful in certain situations.
One of the main reasons is to keep malicious entities, such as hackers and individuals who use malware, ransomware and viruses away from data that could compromise your site's safety and security. Information that's readily available to the public can be exploited for spam and misuse.
There's an agreement between the registrar and the would-be owner that for an extra fee of about $5 to $9 (on average) the owner's personal data will be kept private. The company will put an alias or an anonymous name and details instead of the real one as protection. Moreover, the data will be replaced with that of a proxy company.
If someone uses the WhoIS for MonetizePros we choose to hide all domain details.
Private domain registrations come with several benefits.
1. Protect Your Privacy
Data in the wrong hands can mean huge trouble. Consider the security breaches on major companies and financial institutions and how they affected the consumers. Suffice to say, risk level increases the more information you give away.
A private domain keeps your data away from prying eyes and from users who don't have any business getting your details. They'd be sent away with proxy names and companies, thereby ensuring your protection.
2. Prevent Unwanted Spam
Minimize spam mail and solicitation offers from clogging your inbox by having your domain registered under a private domain. When your name and contact details are removed from the WHOIS system, you prevent any unnecessary phishing and malware attempts. This becomes more relevant if you're the owner of a start-up company or a large organization, as you wouldn't want spam to spread in the workplace.
As a side note, solicitors and telemarketers often take to WHOIS to bulk up their email or cold-calling list.
3. Have Control Over Public Information
Registering under private domains may take an extra step and cost more, but they usually pay for themselves over time by preventing unwanted access and allowing you to stay in control.
You'll be able to choose what data to reveal and which to keep. Moreover, you will have the option to list proxies for a safer relay process.
4. Disguise Your Email
Your domain registrar will provide a unique email address in response to your private domain request. This email will change regularly as listed in the WHOIS database, i.e., every 10 or 15 days in order to keep spammers off track. Moreover, emails of this type are spam filtered, with the legit ones being forwarded to your true email address.
Image source: Deposit Photos
Drawbacks Of Making Your Domain Info Private
Putting your domain on a private register may seem to be advantageous, but in certain situations it can prove to be inconvenient.
So, is private domain registration worth the extra few bucks? The answer varies. Keep in mind that the moment you sign up for taking a domain name, you're also registering with ICANN and their WHOIS platform. The organization determines domain owners by their registered name and contact details in WHOIS.
When you put in a different alias or credentials, ICANN sees the name and assumes that it's the rightful owner of that particular domain. More importantly, the name and information listed under the WHOIS platform is the legal entity of the domain.
The pros and cons vary when you decide to go for a private domain or not. If you're keen to avoid spam emails and prefer privacy above all else, then go for private registers. If you don't mind having spam emails for the sake of being listed as the legitimate entity, then by all means put your credentials under the WHOIS system.
Conversely, there are other ways to keep your personal information safe while showing up as the owner of a domain name. You can use your PO Box or list a virtual address, or even a second email when you're buying domains. In this way your primary email address and home address won't be available to the public. Also, your real business name will show up and not the proxy ones that get displayed when you sign up as a private domain.
While using the WHOIS lookup tool effectively and efficiently serves different purposes, from helping you find the owner of a domain name to verifying domain information, there are reasons you'd want to keep your personal details safe from others. A private registration may be worth it, but there are also several options where you can get listed as the legitimate domain owner while being protected from malicious entities.