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July 22, 2019

WHOIS Database: The Thin and Thick Data Models and Their Uses

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As a professional, WHOIS is something you surely have heard of by now. You may even have performed a WHOIS lookup already knowing that the information provided can reveal many things about a domain. In fact, this sort of data is what has led to several WHOIS applications in various industries.

Market analysts and researchers, for one, can use it to keep track of the competition and learn more about their customers in order to give them better experiences. Cybersecurity experts can improve their current threat intelligence by looking into a WHOIS database download service and monitoring domain-related activity to give them additional insights or leads. And these are just a couple of examples.

WHOIS data continues to serve as an essential resource for maintaining the integrity of the way domains are identified today—using the Domain Name System (DNS). Despite that though, there are still those who have reservations about it. 

In this article, we’ll aim to answer a few extra questions about WHOIS to shed light on and dispel uncertainties regarding its use.

Is WHOIS Data Accurate?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is dedicated to providing unlimited and readily available access to the WHOIS database while being subject to applicable laws. To achieve this, registrars are required to submit the data on all of their registered domains.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not possible to keep a registered domain’s existence a secret for long. As the information required by ICANN is made available to the public via WHOIS directories, anyone can do a search and confirm the status of any given domain. Registrants who fail to supply reliable personal information to their registrar can lose ownership rights to their domains.

What Are the Thin and Thick WHOIS Models?

There are two types of data models users can use to perform a WHOIS lookup.

  • Thin model: This data model supplies minimal details regarding a domain. The information that can be obtained from it includes a domain’s registration date, its registrar, and related name servers. TLDs like .com and .net operate on the thin data model requiring domain registrars to ensure their customers provide these. In order to obtain more information on a certain domain, an additional lookup would be necessary.
  • Thick model: This model provides additional details that cannot be gathered from a thin WHOIS record. The data acquired in this can include the registrant and administrative and technical contacts’ details. Since this model supplies complete information on a domain’s ownership, you only need to access one WHOIS server, allowing you to obtain consistent data sets faster.

What Is WHOIS Privacy?

A great number of registrars nowadays offer privacy as an add-on domain registration service. With this kind of deal, the registrant’s contact information is replaced with that of the hosting service provider. This essentially masks one’s personal details and so whoever is searching for him will only be able to get in touch with the registrar. If the searcher wants more specific owner details, he’ll need to ask the registrar who can only give this out if legally sanctioned.

Domain privacy is a way for domain registrants to keep their contact information hidden albeit costing an additional fee. Even with privacy features, the registered domain will still appear in a WHOIS search, but the representative organization will appear as something like “WHOIS Host Company Inc.” along with an email address such as “contact@whoishostcompany.com.”

Do keep in mind that despite paying extra for domain privacy, full anonymity is still not guaranteed. Registrars are still legally obliged to provide private WHOIS information especially when it involves law enforcement and similar authorities.

Now that you know more about WHOIS, you’ll be less skeptical about it moving forward. A growing number of professionals are now leveraging a WHOIS database download today. If you want to know how they are doing it, continue reading about them here.


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Alex Francois is Senior Content Manager at www.ipify.org. He is knowledgeable about technologies that permit tracking IP addresses and other relevant data to ensure better cybersecurity protection and marketing campaigns.

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