“WHOIS (pronounced as the phrase who is) is a query and response protocol that is widely used for querying databases that store the registered users or assignees of an Internet resource, such as a domain name, an IP address block, or an autonomous system, but is also used for a wider range of other information. The protocol stores and delivers database content in a human-readable format. The Whois protocol is documented in RFC 3912.”
What does this mean for you as an end user? Not a whole heck of a lot.
What does this mean for you as a content publisher online? Quite a bit more than you may realize!
When you register for a domain name (example.com is a good example), the registrar asks you for all sorts of information that we are used to putting in for billing purposes. BUT, did you know that most of this information is made publicly available?
While looking up information to help a client move their domain name from one hosting company to another, I had to do a WHOIS request on their domain name to find out their authoritative DNS servers. In the process, I skimmed over their other WHOIS information and was quite shocked at the amount of personal information that they have readily available right in front of me. This particular client had their full first and last name, home street address (including city/state/zip code), and personal phone number.
There are many WHOIS personal information protection systems in place throughout the internet. This is a reminder that you should check your domain registration information to see what information you are freely handing out!
To check the information made publicly available for your domain name or any others on the internet, check out the following web site: http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp