Confusion abounds about the relationship between routing registries and the ARIN whois database. Therefore it is important to mention that though routing registries and the ARIN whois database contain similar information, they are in fact distinct. Both databases can be queried using the UNIX whois command.
Routing registries are used by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to configure their routers, and though anyone can query the routing registries for information, answering such queries is not the registries’ primary purpose.
The primary purpose of the ARIN whois database, on the other hand, is to maintain information about networks (routes) allocated by ARIN, as well as to maintain information about how those networks have been partitioned by ISPs. ARIN uses this information to keep track of who “owns” which network on the Internet. ARIN also provides to the public access to the whois database. Moreover, ARIN runs a routing registry unrelated to the whois database.
Finally, routing registry software refers to “routes,” whereas the ARIN whois database refers to “networks.” Furthermore, there is an organization holding a database containing all registered domains for the world. This organization, called the Internic, can query Internic’s database by means of whois. Also, although a number of organizations run whois databases, the Internic maintains the main database. A form-based query tool provided by Internic can be found at http://www.internic.com/whois.html.
Many whois servers exist worldwide. For example, there is a European whois database at RIPE (Reseaux IP Europeans) in Amsterdam. An individual can query the whois command via telnet by telnetting to a host offering the whois service. An individual can query the Internic’s whois database using the Web, or an individual can query the Internic database by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A freeware program developed by Luc Neijens, called “Cyberkit,” is also available at http://www.ping.be/cyberkit/index.html.
Siemsen, P. Procedures for Routing Registries and the ARIN Whois database. [Online, August 27, 2002.] The National Center for Atmospheric Research Website. http://www.scd.ucar.edu/nets/docs/procs/routing-registries/#intro; Silvestri, M. Whois Database. [Online, 2000.] Wowarea Website. http://www.wowarea.com/english/researches/wg4_ traceroute.htm.