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An Internet directory service for looking up names of people on a remote server. Many servers respond to TCP queries on port 43, in a manner roughly analogous to the DDN NIC whois service described in RFC 954. Other sites provide this directory service via the finger protocol or accept queries by electronic mail for directory information. On Unix the client command is

whois -h server_name person_name

You can also type "telnet server_name 43" and then type the person's name on a separate line. For a list of whois servers, FTP/Gopher: sipb.mit.edu. Or

whois -h sipb.mit.edu whois-servers

As the above command demonstrates, whois can find information about things other than users, e.g. domains, networks and hosts.

See also finger, X.500, white pages.


Before the Web, Whois was strictly an Internet service used to query a host and find out if a certain user was registered on that system. Originally developed by the military, others followed with their own Whois databases, which provide white pages directories. See finger.

Directory of Domain Names
Whois databases have become the master directories for domain name registrations. When a new domain is added or changed, the information is sent to the appropriate Whois database. Domain name registrars may provide a search function on their sites that can access various or all of the Whois databases. Following are examples of websites that provide information from the Whois databases:






  www.FreeWho.com (tracks Whois sites)

  www.TekTips.us (tracks Whois sites)
References in periodicals archive ?
The nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) began a weeklong meeting Monday focused on the fate of the public Whois database, which shows contact information for those who own websites.
xxx and Protecting Children on the Internet ICANN and Cybersecurity Privacy and the WHOIS Database Domain Names and Intellectual Property Concluding Observations Figures Figure 1.
If you are not familiar with Whois Privacy Protection (otherwise known as domain privacy or private registration), it is a service that replaces a domain owner's contact information on the public Whois Database.
Rather, the problem encompasses the entire domain-name registration system, along with the faulty Whois database of registrant information (overseen by ICANN) that contains fake data, even total gibberish.
Go to the WHOIS database at PIR's Web site and view the name of the registrant, administrative contact, and technical contact for your .
A WHOIS database is an Internet database that contains information on the domain's nameserver (a computer that has both software and data files necessary to resolve or convert domain names into corresponding Internet protocol numbers), the registrar through which the domain was registered, and in some cases, full contact information about a domain name.
If you have a valuable company name, brand, or trademark in Europe that you want to protect, visit the EURid WHOIS database.
net domains; (2) determine the extent to which patently false data are corrected within 1 month of being reported to ICANN; and (3) describe steps the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and ICANN have taken to ensure the accuracy of contact data in the Whois database.
com's publicly available Whois database to obtain a list of individuals and entities who had recently registered domain names.
Domain slammers target Web sites by going to the online directory of Web addresses, the WHOIS database, and getting the contact information of the person under whom the site is registered.
Chapter Six, "Tools," considers several Internet "near standard" commands, such as finger and ping, and offers information about the WHOIS database.