I've written a text in webhostingtalk.com (http://www NULL.webhostingtalk NULL.com/showpost NULL.php?p=6635990&postcount=25) about DNS (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Domain_Name_System) domains (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Domain_name) registered with private whois (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Domain_privacy).
It's out of scope of this article what domains, whois and private whois are, but I've left links if you need some detailed description. Now let's go to the article.
Is Domain Private Whois secure?
I've never seen a domain being lost due do private whois, but I've seen domains being stolen while they had real whois info.
Let's not spoof ourselves. Based on actual domain registration structure, the one who has most power over domains is the registrar. ICANN only controls the root nameservers (with exception to .com and .net, whose registry it controls too), the registries are on the hands of private commercial companies, and only link each domain to its registrar.
Most of domains control is on registrars hands. They own whois info, they own the list of authoritative nameservers that control each domain DNS data, that is used to translate it into IPs. And they have the power to change any of these, it's on their control panel that we go to change it, while we don't have direct access to registry or ICANN.
It's illegal, but I've seen (recently, here in the forum, with HostGator) a case of a brand registered domain being stolen from its registrant due to hosting divergences. The registrar even changed whois info (that was not in private mode) and blocked registrant access to control panel.
It's illegal, but I've seen (sex.com case, done by Network Solutions (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Sex NULL.com)) registrar push a domain to another person without the registrant authorization. It's illegal, but I've seen (familyalbum.com, done by Godaddy (http://nickwilsdon NULL.com/familyalbumcom-vs-godaddy/)) a registrar sell a registered domain to somebody that pointed it had outdated whois info, which was not in private mode too.
Registrars have the power to move domains to whoever they want, and change whois info to whatever they want. And after it's done, it's very hard to get it back, even more if the thief moves the domain to another registrar just after stoling it. Remember, domains whois info is not cached, once it's changed, anything that was there before is lost!
What to do in those cases? Sue the registrar when possible and try to get it back contacting the registry and ICANN, but again ICANN rarely take any attitude on those cases, and internationally sueing somebody is damn expensive.
If a registrar changes your domain's whois info prior to stealing it, what will you be able to do? Legally its ownership was moved and the registrar partner is the new owner, gg
Also, when a domain expires, it's not released so that anybody can FCFS get it. Registrars move expired domains to their related parking or backorder company, without giving any chance of other registrars try to get it.
This is other fact we must be careful. We are not properly buying domains, we are actually renting domains. If we forget to renew registration and it expires, we badly lose our domain and registrar get control over it.
What stops registrars from stealing our domains? The fact that credibility and confidence are the most important value a registrar may have. And it's more profitable for them to charge us for registration and leave those domains in our control than stealing them and setting them under parking. They are not able at all to develop thousands of domains, and also doing so would "break" the internet, and of course major legal actions would be taken if many ppl were stolen, since they have the power but don't have the right to do it.
We shouldn't lay our domains on registrars that we don't trust in the first place. If a registrar is untrustful, it doesn't matter if whois info is proxied or not, the risk of losing it exists. And if we trust our registrar, having whois info proxied or not doesn't change much either, we trust our domains are safe. It ends up with private whois not mattering so much.
The only situation when private whois itself is prejudicial is the pointed one, when the registrar goes down at once and has no chance to change whois info. If the registrar is totally inactive and inaccessible, and we must go to registry or ICANN to get our domain back, having private whois info will make it harder. But still, if we have billing data comproving we registered the domain, and nobody else is demanding to be its owner, I believe it may still be recovered.
Nice huh? To complete the article, I'm gonna add some more info to what each domain entity does.
- ICANN: has control of root nameservers (these nameservers are the first place to call when a DNS server has no idea who to ask about a domain), power over all existing TLDs, and power to define thee creation of new TLDs
- each TLD has its registry, that stores every existing domain over this TLD, which registrar it's registered in, and its authoritative nameservers
- some TLDs registries are owned directly by ICANN (exemple: .com, .net), others are delegated by ICANN to private companies (exemple: .info)
- Private companies credentialed with each registry to register domains over its TLD. Registries don't directly register domains, it's the registrars that we go for when we wanna register a domain.
- Each TLD as only 1 registry, but has many registrars.
- They also own the control panel we use to change our domain's data that is stored in the registry, we interact with the registrar system and the system interacts with the registry's database.
- They store each domain's whois info, whois info is not stored in the registry!
- Authoritative nameservers: DNS servers that are contacted when somebody needs to translate a domain into an IP, these servers are authorities over this domain because domains traslation info takes time to propagate, and when there is any divergency "we" can just ask them, and what they say "is the law". Each domain needs at least 2 authoritative nameservers, because if 1 of them is down the other one does the job, and if no authoritative nameserver is available, everything related to that domain (its website, its emails, and all subdomains below it) goes down.
- Host: companies that host what we wanna do with the domain, being it websites, email, etc.
This is a simplification, if you want more info regarding any of them just Google it.
You should have already heard the importance of leaving your domain registrar separated from your host. Many hosting companies work with registrars, to offer convenience to their customers. Instead of going to a registrar and registering a domain, going to the host and contracting the hosting service, and then configuring both to work together, we can just go to the host and it (charges us for) registers the domain and does all the job for us.
We can even get discounts if we register our domains in our host. But the problem with it is that, if we have a conflict with the host, it may block our control panel, and doing so we lose access both to our website/emails and to our domain.
On the other hand, if we have our domain registered under a registrar and our hosting under another, unrelated and independant company, if we have any problem with the host we can just contract another hosting service, have it proudly help us setup our services back, restore our backup (yeeeeees, always backup your data!!!!), point our domain to the new host and have it back running in a few hours.
So, as you've seen private whois is not a problem at all if you lay your domains on a registrar you trust.
Here's a list of private whois advantages, if you are still wondering what it's used for:
- Registrars are less turned into taking our domain for whois problems if it's proxied, so we may fear a bit less about outdated info.
- No spam.
- Our private info is not freely available to anybody who wants it (But some registrars may unclose our private info it they are just threatened of being sued, since legally whoever is listed in private whois is responsible for anything done under the domain! In this case, Dynadot's has advantage over other companies' private whois service).
- Many ditatorial countries, in exemple Brasil and China, don't allow privacy and liberty to their citizens. People may be threatened by government for expressing their thoughts, so they must hide their identity, and then Internet becomes the most democratic communication canal.
- Yes, it's a bit easier to do illegal actions hidden by private whois too. Spammers love it.
I hope I had explained enough about private whois viability, security and consequences. See ya next time! =^-^=
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