For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term Whois, it is a command protocol used by internet users to query the registration and ownership details of a domain name, IP address, or any other internet based autonomous system. The command protocol, which uses a query and response system, retrieves domain name ownership and registration details from a large number of reputable databases and then delivers such information in an easy to read and informationally digestible format.
What is a Whois Database Download
A Whois database download refers to acquiring whole Whois database in one downloadable and easy to read file format. These informational packages can be downloaded for all domains registered, or targeted towards specific TLDs or top-level domains, such as .com, .net, or .org. The WHOIS database downloads are also available for ccTLDs or country code top-level domains, as well as the new gTLDs, also known as generic top-level domains.
Is Your Personal Data at Risk
Knowing whether or not your personal data is at risk depends on which data you used to register a domain name, IP address, or other autonomous system. If you registered any of these digital assets in your personal name or included your personal address and other contact details, then the answer is yes, your personal data is absolutely at risk.
While Whois database downloads are primarily used for safe and legitimate commercial and non-commercial purposes, this is not always the case. Occasionally spammers, aggressive telemarketers, and outright criminals will mine these databases in order to carry out unethical or illegal activities.
What Are Specific Whois Database Risks
The main risk of not protecting your personal details within a Whois database is that more often than not this information will be used to send you a barrage of email spam and other unsolicited digital messages. Secondary risks include being the target of unsolicited robocalls, texts, and other fraudulent data phishing attempts against your home, work, or mobile phone. And lastly, very nefarious criminals or hackers could mine your Whois data in order to commit identity theft against you or attempt to gain unauthorized access to your financial accounts or other digital assets.
Owning a Domain Name While Keeping Your Information Safe
In order to protect your personal data within any Whois database, it is very important that you refrain from using your primary address, phone number, or email address to register a domain name, IP address, or other autonomous system. Instead, it is highly recommended that you use either secondary contact information that does not put your identity at risk, or opt to use the privacy blocker products offered by many domain registrars and IP address providers. If you go a step further and use both secondary contact information and Whois privacy products, then it is extremely unlikely that any personally identifiable information about you will ever be put at risk of exploitation.
While protecting your personal data should always be a top priority, always be aware that using fake Whois data is strictly prohibited and can be cause for domain or IP services termination.