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What Is WHOIS and Why Does Private Registration Matter?

After reading recent blogs and tutorials on choosing a custom domain and why it’s important, you decide to go ahead and take the leap. You search for a domain, crossing your fingers that the one you’d hoped for hasn’t been taken. “CONGRATULATIONS!” You see in green, “The domain you chose is available.” You continue on to the next page when a puzzling option is brought to your attention.

Private Registration
Private Registration? What is that – is it necessary?

Before you decide to skip over this option, deeming it unnecessary, we suggest you continue reading. By the end of this post, you may be thanking yourself that you did.

Private registration, in essence, protects your personal information. But, before you understand what private registration is necessary, let’s first take a look at why your information could be exposed.

What is WHOIS?
Let’s say you overhear a few friends talking about the actor James Franco. You know you’ve heard the name but can’t quite figure out who he is. You take to Google with a quick search of, “Who is James Franco?” You’re promptly given details to his age, hometown, profession, etc.

Google is to James Franco, as WHOIS is to a domain name. In other words, WHOIS is a public database that holds all registration information for all registered domain names.

Now, let’s say your initial domain search did not go quite as smoothly, and your desired domain name is taken. You have the option to find out when the domain name is set to expire and who owns it by looking it up in the WHOIS database and offering the owner a price or waiting until it expires and becomes available for purchase. (This happened with Medicaid.)

This information available in the WHOIS database includes the following:

  • The domain owner’s full name
  • The domain owner’s address
  • The domain owner’s phone number
  • The domain’s creation date
  • The domain’s expiry date
  • The date the domain was last update
  • The domain’s registrar

What is private registration?
Opting into private registration replaces your personal information from the public WHOIS database, displaying your registrars contact information rather than your own.

For example, a domain name without private registration will publicly display your personal information in the following format:

public WHOIS
A domain name with private registration will hide your personal information in the following format:

private WHOIS
As you can see, all private details are hidden, and replaced with that of the domain registrar.

Why does private registration matter?
Unfortunately, these days it is not safe or advisable to have your private details available to the public. There are numerous programs that have been created to mine personal data from the WHOIS database – this mined info is only to be received by the people you’d least like to have it:

  1. Identity thieves: There have been cases where identity thieves find personal data through the WHOIS database. and subsequently create additional domain names and email addresses in the original domain owners name. This is done for the purpose of stealing the original login credentials to the website, thereby resulting in the theft of the domain name and website you have dedicated your time and hard work to. Additionally, these cases can be difficult to resolve through Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body of the Internet.
  2. Spammers: When your personal information is placed in the hands of spammers, your inbox will be flooded with email containing links to both phishing sites as well as sites containing malware. The result is a computer virus or obtaining your credit card details (they already have your name, address and phone number).
  3. Solicitors: Although they’re not nearly as bad as the previous examples, solicitors can be quite the nuisances. With all of the information they have access to, they will be able to flood your phone, inbox and postal mailbox. There’s nothing more irritating than an array of soliciting phone calls at 8:30pm while winding down from a long day.

As you can see, there are many important benefits in keeping your personal details private. In order to prevent identity theft, spam and unwanted solicitation, consider adding private registration to your domain name. If you decide to purchase a domain name through Yola, simply check the box for “Private Registration” on the checkout screen in order to protect your private details. Next time you find yourself in the market for a new domain name, don’t forget to protect your information.

2 thoughts on “What Is WHOIS and Why Does Private Registration Matter?”

  1. Pingback: How to Safeguard Your Website against Malware | Yola

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