Protecting sensitive information in WHOIS

Privacy of data is important. This is also the case when registering a domain name. When you register a domain name or take over a domain name, the registry information is listed in the WHOIS.


Searching for a domain name

When you search for information about a domain name, such as to see if it's still available, you can look it up in the WHOIS database. You may have never thought about it before. And not only can you find the availability through the WHOIS, there is much more data stored there as well.

What's in the WHOIS

The WHOIS is a network protocol used to store all the collected information about a domain. To a certain extent, you can determine which information about you is publicly available. The information that is typically visible when querying a domain name includes:

  • Status of the domain: whether the domain name is active
  • Who is using the domain name: the holder, registrant or "owner"
  • Name of the registrar and/or which provider hosts the name
  • Who is the contact person: technical and administrative
  • Which name server: the server to which the domain name refers
  • First registration date and date of the most recent change
  • Which TLD: the extension

If a domain name is cancelled, the relevant registrar can also see the date and time when the name will be released from quarantine. And much more information such as the registration renewal date.

Preventing internet crime

Since the introduction of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in Europe, you have more control over what information in the WHOIS is publicly available. This is certainly important for you as a registrant. Think of dangers such as spam, identity fraud, and typosquatting. For natural persons, the regulation means that personal data such as name and address is no longer visible. For companies, the situation is slightly different.

How to shield data

Within the WHOIS, there are many technical terms. We will highlight two: thin data and thick data. The so-called "thin data" is the technical information that is visible. Privacy-sensitive information is contained in the "thick data." The registrar decides what information is visible or included in the thick data. Your hosting partner can certainly advise you on this.

Read the article with technical explanations about the WHOIS here.

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