WHOIS Protocol Specification
draft-daigle-rfc954bis-01

Versions: 00 01 rfc3912                                                 
Network Working Group                                  L. Daigle, Editor
Internet-Draft                                            VeriSign, Inc.
Expires: December 12, 2003                                 June 13, 2003


                      WHOIS Protocol Specification
                     draft-daigle-rfc954bis-00.txt

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on December 12, 2003.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This document updates the specification of the WHOIS protocol,
   thereby obsoleting RFC954 [1].  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   protocol, and is no longer applicable in today's Internet.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
   that is widely used to provide information services to Internet



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   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.

   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 document merely 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 in US-ASCII format to
   the WHOIS server, then the WHOIS server replies with US-ASCII 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) ----------------------------->








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4. Internationalisation

   The WHOIS protocol has not been internationalised.  The WHOIS
   protocol has no mechanism for indicating the character set in use,
   but instead assumes that all users are using US-ASCII.  In practice,
   some WHOIS servers, particularly those outside the USA, might happen
   to be using some other character set either for requests, replies, or
   both.  This can adversely impact the 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 prepared the earlier versions of this document.

References

   [1]  Harrenstien, K., Stahl, M. and E. Feinler, "NICNAME/WHOIS", RFC
        954, October 1985.

   [2]  Harrenstien, K. and V. White, "NICNAME/WHOIS", RFC 812, March
        1982.

   [3]  Harrenstien, K., "NAME/FINGER Protocol", RFC 742, December 1977.


Author's Address

   Leslie Daigle, Editor
   VeriSign, Inc.
   21355 Ridgetop Circle
   Dulles, VA  20166
   US

   EMail: leslie@verisignlabs.com; leslie@thinkingcat.com








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Full Copyright Statement

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Acknowledgement

   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
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