That’s a world of harsh competition, where all the activities of companies are as transparent and publicly available as never before. The mentioned mainly narrows down to the online activities of businesses, where competitors can easily see prices, check stocks, and generally observe the strategies companies hold for customer acquisition and retention.
Before, each company did not have an online presence, and the competitor analysis was significantly harder. People needed to find ways to physically enter their competitor’s business areas or rely on the word of mouth of the competitor’s customers to figure out somehow the way things are going.
Currently, websites, for example, are a good place to analyze the strategies of the competitors. In a matter of seconds, your competitors can track your marketing campaigns, your business style and approaches, check the content, and even the statistics of how your users interact with the content.
More than that, there is information of deeper levels about your website, which is available to competitors. In-detail information about your website domain, such as where and when and who registered it, when is the expiration date, etc., is available to the public once you register your domain name.
Considering the above-mentioned aspects of competition, you might need to change or hide your domain-related information stored in WHOIS databases.
Read on if you hold or plan to hold a website in the future, as you will need the below information in that case.
What is WHOIS information?
WHOIS is the ICANN’s database, which automatically collects information on the registered domains and makes it publicly available.
ICANN is the official body responsible for DNS (Domain Name System) coordination. It’s the organization that links IP addresses to domain names. Therefore all the registries and registrars who want to participate in the process should have the ICANN’s accreditation.
Following the consensus policies and contracts, registrars should provide public access for the data on their registered domains to ICANN. Similarly, they should ensure the information is timely and accurately updated.
For the latter, registrars usually contact domain name registrants once a year to ensure their provided information is not outdated. This is one of the easiest methods to change your WHOIS information: you can update it during the annual check-up with your registrar.
Note that if you fail to reply to your registrar’s emails on the domain registration information update, ICANN can terminate or even completely cancel your domain name registration.
What does WHOIS explicitly contain about my domain?
To be short, everything. WHOIS contains the following data.
- Domain Information: domain name, nameservers, registration and expiration dates, domain ID
- Contact Information: contact details of abuse, registrant, administrative, and technical
- Registrar Information: registrar who registered your domain name
- DNSSEC Information: delegation sign status
- Authoritative Servers: registry server URL, registrar server URL
- Notices and Remarks
If you want to understand better how it works, head to the WHOIS, and check the information on any website interesting to you.
How can I change my domain’s WHOIS information?
You see, WHOIS contains excessive information about you and your domain. Meantime, that data is dynamic and can easily change throughout your domain name ownership and website operations. Therefore, there might be numerous reasons why you would want to change the WHOIS information.
The crucial aspect here is that it’s not WHOIS that is responsible for your information. WHOIS simply stores the data that registrars provide. Therefore, if you want to update your domain name information, you should refer to your domain name registrar. If, for some reason, you are uncertain about who your registrar is, take a quick look at our guide on how to restore your registrar information quickly.
Domain registrars usually have the “update WHOIS information” section in your domain name registration account. Once you change any information there, ICANN will be notified about that change. Afterward, ICANN will request your domain registrar to validate the made changes, which, in turn, will refer to you for confirming the made changes.
* The policy allows ICANN to suspend your domain name if the made changes are not validated in the 15-day-period following the amendment.
Can public access to my domain’s information cause me any trouble?
Technically, yes. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the competition in any sphere became harsher as industry players have access to information of each other like never before.
At first glance, you might ask: what can my competitors do if they know where I registered my domain and similar information?
The probably accurate answer is: you never know.
Personal data is sensitive, and it can be manipulated in any way depending on how far your competitors can go. For example, they can find the website owner’s name, who has a high probability of being the business owner and build fake accounts under his name. Later, they can use those fake accounts for different kinds of manipulations and frauds.
The risk of losing your domain name
Domain expiration and renewal topics are among the most sensitive issues for businesses, as failing to renew the domain registration can cause severe consequences for businesses. Even a second passed after the renewal deadline can cost you losing your domain name to third parties, usually competitors or domain dealers.
Many people build a business on those sorts of activities. They take advantage of the fact that many companies forget to organize their domain renewals on time. Therefore, hackers gain a perfect opportunity to buy a domain before domain owners manage to notice the expiration (this can happen in a second) and then sell it back with significantly higher prices.
If you want to understand better how that works and how to make you secure from such threats, read our guide on domain expirations. To partially secure you from this risk, you can also know how to buy a domain forever and without the need for renewals.
The risk of losing your domain is tightly associated with WHOIS information accessibility, as it’s the primary source where the domain name chasers can check your domain expiration dates. So, that’s also one reason why you would like to make your WHOIS information private.
But is it legal to hide my WHOIS information?
The system works in the following way. You choose a private registration option, which means your registrar does not disclose who is the owner of the registered domain name. Instead, the domain registrar itself appears as an owner of the particular domain name; therefore, instead of your personal information, WHOIS will display that of your domain registrar’s.
You can choose the private option when registering your domain or contact your domain registrar later to switch to private. Usually, you will be charged an additional amount for that. However, nothing is more expensive than privacy and data security.