Domain names behind the scenes

We’re starting a 3-part series on DomainRoosters domain name business. As simple as it may seem, domain names are pretty sophisticated. After reading these articles, you’ll be better familiar with the terminology, actors, lifespan, etc.

Domain name

A domain name is a unique, human-readable string rented by an individual, company, or organization on the internet to simplify memorizing elements. Domain names can be used to remember IP addresses, SPF entries, MX mailboxes, etc…

A domain name allows you to connect to a server using an easy-to-remember, exact, and durable name instead of its IP address. Instead of 54.39.46.56, recall HostRooster cloud.com.

DNS translates domain names to IP addresses. Hierarchical. We won’t discuss DNS’s complex processes in this series.

Domain names only. DNS fans should read our blog. Domain names are arranged under the nameless DNS root domain. Hierarchical system’s domain root.

Below this top level are global TLDs like.com,.org,.net, etc., and country-specific ccTLDs (like .fr for France or .uk for the United Kingdom). The label is the site’s distinguishing moniker, such as HostRooster cloud.

Sub-domains can redirect to another IP address like www, docs, or static to have a domain for static files on a website.

Basic notions 

ICANN, Registry, Registry backend, Registrar, Registrant: Who are all these?

We must define the Domain Names Industry’s stakeholders to comprehend it better.

First, the registrar manages TLDs (TLDs). They develop TLDs and their policies and work with registrars to sell domains. Most registries are private companies. However, ccTLD registries may be government-affiliated 

Registry backend is another end. This group controls TLDs technically. The registry and backend are sometimes different entities, but usually, they’re the same. 

A registrar, like HostRooster cloud, is an accredited firm that sells domain names using registries’ TLDs. As a registrar, we buy a renewable fixed-term license. Thus, we offer this license to domain registrants. So, we work like a real estate agency. Customers rent domain names, not houses. 

DomainRooster combines registrant and registry roles for DomainRooster. We aren’t the registry backend in this scenario because we use Afnic, like many french TLDs.

The registrant is the domain owner: a person or corporation. As a registrant, you can manage your domain’s settings through the registrar’s Control Panel. The registrar updates the registry’s database with the registrant’s modifications. The registrar connects its customers, the registrants, to the registry. The registrant always deals with the registrar, never the registry.

ICANN manages domain names. 1998’s ICANN coordinates domain names, IP addresses, and DNS. ICANN works to maintain Internet security, stability, and interoperability.

It encourages competitiveness and develops DNS policies. Coordinating IP addresses and domains prevent duplicates globally. ICANN manages “universal resolvability.” This means you get the same results when accessing the network from anywhere in the world.

 It authorizes Registrars to sell domains to Registrants. ICANN helps maintain Internet stability. ICANN doesn’t manage Internet content, but its function affects its growth and evolution.

TLD types

gTLD and ccTLD are TLDs (Generic Top-Level Domains and Country-Code Top-Level Domains).

Transnational extensions are gTLDs. Unlike ccTLDs, gTLDs are usually thematic rather than geographical. .tech refers to tech and geek websites, while.org (for organization) refers to non-profits. gTLDs always have three letters, unlike ccTLDs. ccTLDs are 2-letter domains.

“Sponsored” gTLDs should be distinguished from others. Some prerequisites must be completed to register a sponsored TLD domain. Private firms or groups support them. .gouv.fr is a government-sponsored extension no one can use. ICANN centrally regulates non-sponsored TLDs (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Therefore, a non-sponsored gTLD domain name can be registered by individuals, companies, organizations, associations, etc.

 ccTLDs are logically related to countries or regions. .fr and .be are country-specific domains. Some ccTLDs are chosen for their brand value, such as Tuvalu’s.tv and.io (British Indian Ocean Territory). Most ccTLDs require linking before registering a domain name. Each registrar has its requirements for domain name registration, which often includes confirmation of country or nationality. The .ie registry requests registrants for papers to prove domain name registration.

Multiple extensions enable customized domain name registration and use. If a.com or.fr domain name isn’t accessible, you can find it in the list of gTLDs.

Whois

A directory 

Domain names necessitated a directory. Who owned a domain? Whois has been upgraded using RDAP.

 Whois information on a domain includes (not exhaustive):

– owner info (administrative, technical contacts), 

– creation/expiration dates, 

– registrar name, etc.

Each registry picks its data strategy. Therefore extension representations vary. 

There are several whois tools. For example, your terminal’s ‘whois’ command, or ours: https://www.ovh.com/fr/cgi-bin/tools/check whois.pl

Privacy vs. public data

As stated above, the WHOIS publication regulations vary by registration, especially for ccTLDs. ccTLD registries require registrars to publish certain information. According to ICANN requirements, names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses must be listed in WHOIS for gTLDs. The registrar must follow many rules surrounding WHOIS presentation. 

Despite diverging restrictions, the GDPR has simplified WHOIS data publication since its 2018 implementation, as we cannot disclose registrant personal data. This undermines public access. OVHcloud’s Contact Request Form is the only option to contact a domain owner without seeing their name or email address.

These are general duties. Thus registrars must often develop the disclosure process. Even today, there’s no uniform process to advise those involved.

This is controversial. On one side, privacy supporters welcome the GDPR’s non-disclosure of data. The legitimate access seekers argue for IP or public interest protection.

Paradoxically, anonymization can assist people in avoiding intellectual property or other legal conflicts—third-party registration of a brand’s.com domain name, for example. Registries have “abuse” systems that provide judicial action.

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