What is a WHOIS lookup?

Written on 23 November, 2018 by MelbourneIT
Categories Domains Website Security

Did you know you can look up the details of any given domain name online? This can prove useful for anyone who is looking to negotiate to acquire a pre-registered domain or for those who are interested in contacting the site owner for any reason, legal or otherwise. To find the details, you can use a WHOIS lookup.

Let’s take a closer look.

How does a WHOIS lookup work?

When you register a domain, you will be required to lodge your details with the Domain Authority. These details become available online to anyone who wishes to contact you. Anyone in the world can search for the owner of a domain via a WHOIS lookup.

A WHOIS lookup allows people to see who owns the domain so that they can make contact with the owner. This proof of ownership is a precaution taken to prevent fraud and ensure domain owners are held accountable for the content they publish online. However, it does come with its downfalls.

What are the risks?

As with any public listing of private information, there comes a few dangers. These days, with cyber-crime, phishing, spamming and identity theft, sharing your information comes at a much higher risk. When you have your information openly available to anyone who wants it, you just don’t know what people are going to do with it.

These days, some hackers will use a script to scrape the WHOIS database and sell on the information to telemarketing companies or businesses who want to grow their contact list. While this is one of the lighter consequences, on the flip side, in rare circumstances you may find yourself battling with stolen identity.

Unfortunately, divulging your details is a catch that is just part and parcel of owning a domain. However,  there is a way you can reduce the amount of information openly shared.

Can I restrict the details displayed for my domain name?

Yes. You can actually purchase a service called Private Registration, which will keep your details concealed from the public eye, while still complying with the requirements of the Domain Authority. The Melbourne IT Private Registration service will substitute your personal details, like your address, phone number and street address, with Melbourne IT’s information. This means that, rather than being listed as Sherlock Holmes from 221B Baker Street, London, it will simply say Sherlock Holmes from Locked Bag 20019, Melbourne, and the phone number and email address will be substituted with Melbourne IT’s own. This means you will be safe from spam, potential hackers and, of course, those pesky telemarketers who like to get their hands on your information in any way they can.

With this service, you can turn your details from public to private (and vice-versa) whenever you please. This means that you have complete control over who can see your personal information and when.

When is a WHOIS lookup useful?

You’ve just decided to launch your business. You head online to the Melbourne IT website and search for mynewbusiness.com but you discover it’s not available. It must already be registered. What now? If you are set on the name and you are willing to pay a premium to secure this domain, your next port of call is a WHOIS lookup. This will provide you with the details you need to get in touch with the domain owner and make an offer on the pre-registered domain.

People often register domains with the intention to use them and then never direct them anywhere. This means that, sometimes, you may be searching for a domain that you want to register but when you actually search online for the associated website, there’s nothing to be found. A simple WHOIS lookup puts you in contact with the owner, who may very well be happy to sell it off to you and make back the money they spent.


If you are on the hunt for a pre-registered domain, check out the Melbourne IT WHOIS portal to see who owns it. If you’re concerned about sharing your personal information with the world, check out our Private Registration service to protect your sensitive data. For any other queries, one of our Online Solutions Advisors is ready and waiting to help. Get in touch now.

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