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Private Domain Name: Protecting Your WHOIS Information

anonymous domain registration“WHOIS (not an acronym, pronounced who-is) is a protocol used for querying databases to determine the registrant or owner of a domain name or IP address. Domain registrars maintain their own WHOIS databases for the domains hosted on their servers. InterNIC, operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), maintains a database of all primary domains (.com, .org and .net). These databases are used for determining the registration status of domain names, assisting law enforcement with investigations, to help counter intellectual property and copyright infringement, assisting Internet users in combating fraud and keeping a public record of who owns each domain.

A WHOIS record contains all of your domain registration information. This includes your name, email address, address, telephone number, the registrar you used to register the domain, the nameservers to which you have pointed the domain, the date you created the domain, the expiration date of the domain and the last renewal date. There are various free WHOIS services and websites, all of which may display WHOIS information in a different way. Regardless of how it is displayed, the information contained in the record can be seen by anyone who queries a WHOIS database. A typical WHOIS record is shown below.

Registrant: YourDomain.com (or your name / company name)
Your Street Address
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Country

Registered Through: Your Domain Registrar (http://www.YourDomainRegistrar.com)
Domain Name: YourDomain.com
Created On: mm/dd/yy
Expires On: mm/dd/yy
Last Updated On: mm/dd/yy (last renewal)

Administrative Contact:
Your Full Name & Email Address
YourDomain.com
Your Street Address
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Country
Your Telephone Number

Technical Contact:
Your Full Name & Email Address
YourDomain.com
Your Street Address
Your City, State and Zip Code
Your Country
Your Telephone Number

Domain Name Servers Listed In Order:
Nameserver1.YourWebHost.com
Nameserver2.YourWebHost.com

This is a large amount of information to leave open to everyone on the Internet. Spammers often harvest plain-text email addresses from WHOIS requests. While WHOIS servers and websites offering WHOIS lookups are using CAPTCHA (where users have to type in letters or numbers from a picture) and rate-limiting systems (queries per minute/hour/day), they have not solved the email harvesting problem. The other issue is that your telephone number, name and address may also be harvested, not just by spammers and scammers, but by information gathering / people search services and criminals engaging in identity theft.

To keep your domain information private, many registrars have begun offering privacy protection services that obscure or change your WHOIS data to something different. There are also third party services that provide similar services. When you register your domain name with a registrar, they will likely have quite a few extras available for purchase, including a WHOIS privacy service.

The registrar we use and recommend is NameCheap. Not only do they provide a significant number of features with each domain purchase, including a free Private SSL certificate, domains only cost $9.69. That is better than any other registrar we have found (or used). But to sweeten their offering even more, they are currently including WhoisGuard domain protection free with domain registration or domain transfer from another registrar.

WhoisGuard From NameCheap

WHOISGuard NameCheapWhoisGuard is a service that prevents people from gaining access to your address, phone number and email using WHOIS. ICANN policy states that when a domain name is registered, it is required that the user provide valid address, phone and email address or risk losing their domain. This potentially exposes your private information to the public.

This is where WhoisGuard steps in. They provide their information in WHOIS so that yours is safe. You retain full control of the domain and can enable or disable WhoisGuard whenever you want. They provide a new email address, meaning every email sent to that address is forwarded to an email address of your choice. They also provide an option to change the email address in a specified interval to further reduce SPAM. WhoisGuard places their phone number and fax number in your domain’s WHOIS so you don’t get unsolicited calls or faxes. They will forward any regular mail either through postal mail or email (as a scanned copy).

We gradually migrated all our domains to NameCheap. For each and every domain we transferred, we saw a dramatic drop in email SPAM within a week of enabling the WhoisGuard service. Overall, NameCheap is less expensive than our previous domain registrar, has provided us with fantastic service and the reduction in SPAM saves us a few hours a week of email administration. Visit NameCheap today to register or transfer your domain and take advantage of their free WhoisGuard feature. Your wallet and your inbox will thank you.

 

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