KNOWNHOST BLOG

Should I use WHOIS Privacy Protection?

should domain name be privacy protected

Web hosting companies offer a wide variety of services and often, domain name privacy protection is part of that offering. The big question is, do you want or need this service?

It might help to have an understanding about what this paid add-on service can offer. 

The process of registering a domain includes providing personal information. Typical information required for registration includes your legal name, phone number, email address and perhaps even a business or physical address. Purchasing domain privacy protection is like having a shield that hides this sensitive information from public view.

Sounds good right? Well, maybe. While domain privacy protection does provide a greater sense of security, international regulations that are designed to provide online privacy for everyone may make purchasing private domain privacy protection more of a nice option than a must-have, depending on how concerned you are about your privacy.

WHOIS Data and Privacy Concerns

Regardless of whether you registered your domain through an individual registration service, or your web host, the process requires you to provide information about who you are in addition to basic contact information. This requirement makes sense as it confirms that you are the domain owner of record. What you may not know, is your information is then entered into a database, aptly named, WHOIS. When someone wants information regarding “who is” the person on record for an IP address or domain name, you guessed it, they can access the WHOIS database and find that information.

The WHOIS database isn’t the only place where internet registration information is stored. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also known as ICANN, also maintains data that coordinates Internet Protocol address (IP) and Domain Name Systems or DNS. ICANN is a non-profit that ensures every entity with space on the internet can be uniquely identified, allowing access to systems worldwide. Domain privacy protection is allowed by ICANN.

Ownership of a website and domain means that your registration information is, by default, able to be accessed by anyone who is interested. This transparency is important to safety and legitimacy on the web. The real owner of any website can be located regardless of what city, state, or country they are in. Bad actors can’t hide in the dark corners of the web, and that is a good thing. Unfortunately, it also exposes website owners to numerous real threats and breaches, ranging from annoying spam to identify theft.

This is where domain name privacy protection comes in. Domain privacy protection plans play a pivotal role in securing your personal, sensitive information by keeping it out of the hands of hackers and other ill-intentioned web surfers.

How Does It Work?

Domain name privacy protection is like a home security system for your personal information. Essentially, privacy providers proxy the data that is stored on WHOIS. This is done by replacing your data with ‘dummy’ data that the registrar used to masque your information. You can still be contacted, if someone attempted to email the proxy address listed, but your data couldn’t be scraped and it’d be up to you if you wanted to reply. Essentially, you are protected by a private domain protection service and your personal information remains shielded from prying eyes.

Domain privacy plans that are designed to protect WHOIS data use to be offered at a monthly or yearly fee, but now days most registrars now provide WHOIS protection for free. This was a great change to the industry because it allowed everyone to be protected.

KnownHost is a full-service web hosting service with a robust menu offering, among other essential services, domain registration. Purchasing domains through KnownHost gives you access to centralized service management, a qualified on-shore support team, and FREE domain privacy protection for life. Your domain privacy protection settings can be accessed through the client portal, allowing you to enable or disable the protection service on demand. Through KnownHost you will be able to update your WHOIS registration, administration, technical and billing information while at the same time enjoying the peace of mind from knowing your information will not be made public.

Personal Information Hacks Lead To Changes In Domain Protection Landscape

Recent high-profile data breaches have drawn attention to the need for personal information protection on the internet. The continued misuse of sensitive data has spurred the development of new privacy regulations intended to make the internet safer, and give internet users increased control over how their data can be used and accessed on the internet.

Implemented in 2018, the European Union’s privacy regulations; dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, is the primary structure used to protect the personal data of not only EU internet users, but users throughout the world. Failure to comply with GDPR results in significant fines and penalties.

Due to the global reach of the internet, the GDPR isn’t limited to the EU. Any website that can be accessed by a EU citizen is subject to GDPR regulation, this includes Whois and other databases that store website and IP information.

According to GDPR regulation, databases like WHOIS are required to keep individuals anonymous and require that consent must be given by owners for their data to be used in specific ways. These regulations are in direct conflict with ICANN transparency allowed on WHOIS databases. After a legal battle, ICANN has agreed to a temporary provision which protects personal information on WHOIS, but still allows dates, registrars, and other technical information to be available to the public. According to the provision, personal information has to be requested and domain and website owners can refuse the request. This temporary provision is what allows users to utilize domain protection services to intercept information requests and reroute them.

Are GDPR Regulations Enough To Protect My WHOIS Information?

ICANN’s temporary fix may provide enough protection for some users with information stored on WHOIS. However, the temporary nature of the provision is enough to convince most website and domain owners to add additional layers of security. Purchasing domain privacy protection is a sensible solution that allows owners more control of their sensitive information, protection from identity theft and relief from other real world threats such as criminal access to phone numbers.and home addresses.

While the GDPR continues to try to protect internet users, it is wise for individuals to do what they can to ensure their personal sensitive data is secure. The use of domain privacy protection is a budget friendly solution that is within the reach of most users. Hosting services like KnownHost and others, provide privacy protection at no cost when you purchase a domain.

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