WHOIS Protocol Specification
The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 3912.
|Last updated||2013-03-02 (Latest revision 2004-04-01)|
|RFC stream||Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)|
|IESG||IESG state||RFC 3912 (Draft Standard)|
|Responsible AD||Ted Hardie|
|Send notices to||(None)|
Network Working Group L. Daigle Internet-Draft VeriSign, Inc. Obsoletes: RFC812, RFC954 (if March 31, 2004 approved) Expires: September 29, 2004 WHOIS Protocol Specification draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01.txt Status of this Memo This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026. Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups. Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress." The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at http:// www.ietf.org/ietf/1id-abstracts.txt. The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at http://www.ietf.org/shadow.html. This Internet-Draft will expire on September 29, 2004. Copyright Notice Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). All Rights Reserved. Abstract This document updates the specification of the WHOIS protocol, thereby obsoleting RFC954. The update is intended to remove the material from RFC954 that does not have to do with the on-the-wire protocol, and is no longer applicable in today's Internet. This document does not attempt to change or update the protocol per se, or document other uses of the protocol that have come into existence since the publication of RFC954. 1. Introduction WHOIS is a TCP-based transaction-oriented query/response protocol Daigle Expires September 29, 2004 [Page 1] Internet-Draft draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01 March 2004 that is widely used to provide information services to Internet users. While originally used to provide "white pages" services and information about registered domain names, current deployments cover a much broader range of information services. The protocol delivers its content in a human-readable format. This document updates the specification of the WHOIS protocol, thereby obsoleting RFC954 . For historic reasons, WHOIS lacks many of the protocol design attributes, for example internationalisation and strong security, that would be expected from any recently-designed IETF protocol. This document does not attempt to rectify any of those short comings. Instead, this memo documents the WHOIS protocol as it is. In some areas, this document does document particular well known shortcomings of the WHOIS protocol. The discussion of possible protocols to carry out these functions, with updated capabilities to address the short comings, is being addressed in a separate IETF activitiy (CRISP Working Group). 2. Protocol Specification A WHOIS server listens on TCP port 43 for requests from WHOIS clients. The WHOIS client makes a text request to the WHOIS server, then the WHOIS server replies with text content. All requests are terminated with ASCII CR and then ASCII LF. The response might contain more than one line of text, so the presence of ASCII CR or ASCII LF characters does not indicate the end of the response. The WHOIS server closes its connection as soon as the output is finished. The closed TCP connection is the indication to the client that the response has been received. 3. Protocol Example If one places a request of the WHOIS server located at whois.nic.mil for information about "Smith", the packets on the wire will look like: client server at whois.nic.mil open TCP ---- (SYN) ------------------------------> <---- (SYN+ACK) ------------------------- send query ---- "Smith<CR><LF>" --------------------> get answer <---- "Info about Smith<CR><LF>" --------- <---- "More info about Smith<CR><LF>" ---- close <---- (FIN) ------------------------------ ----- (FIN) -----------------------------> Daigle Expires September 29, 2004 [Page 2] Internet-Draft draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01 March 2004 4. Internationalisation The WHOIS protocol has not been internationalised. The WHOIS protocol has no mechanism for indicating the character set in use. Originally, the predominant text encoding in use was US-ASCII. In practice, some WHOIS servers, particularly those outside the USA, might be using some other character set either for requests, replies, or both. This inability to predict or express text encoding has adversely impacted the interperability (and, therefore, usefulness) of the WHOIS protocol. 5. Security Considerations The WHOIS protocol has no provisions for strong security. WHOIS lacks mechanisms for access control, integrity, and confidentiality. Accordingly, WHOIS-based services should only be used for information which is non-sensitive and intended to be accessible to everyone. The absence of such security mechanisms means this protocol would not normally be acceptable to the IETF at the time of this writing. 6. Acknowledgements Ran Atkinson created an earlier version of this document. Normative References  Harrenstien, K., Stahl, M. and E. Feinler, "NICNAME/WHOIS", RFC 954, October 1985. Author's Address Leslie Daigle VeriSign, Inc. 21355 Ridgetop Circle Dulles, VA 20166 US EMail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org Daigle Expires September 29, 2004 [Page 3] Internet-Draft draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01 March 2004 Intellectual Property Statement The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in this document or the extent to which any license under such rights might or might not be available; neither does it represent that it has made any effort to identify any such rights. Information on the IETF's procedures with respect to rights in standards-track and standards-related documentation can be found in BCP-11. 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This document and the information contained herein is provided on an "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING TASK FORCE DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY WARRANTY THAT THE USE OF THE INFORMATION Daigle Expires September 29, 2004 [Page 4] Internet-Draft draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01 March 2004 HEREIN WILL NOT INFRINGE ANY RIGHTS OR ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Acknowledgment Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the Internet Society. Daigle Expires September 29, 2004 [Page 5]