WHOIS is another useful read-only directory service. WHOIS provides a telephone directory-like service for machines, networks, and the people who run them. Some larger organizations like IBM, UC Berkeley, and MIT provide WHOIS service, but the most important WHOIS servers by far are those run by the InterNIC and other Internet registries like RIPE (European IP address allocations) and APNIC (Asia/Pacific address allocations).
If you have to contact a system administrator at another site to report suspicious network activity, you would use WHOIS to get the contact info. There are GUI and command-line based tools for making WHOIS queries available for most operating systems. Under Unix, a typical query looks like this:
whois -h whois.networksolutions.com brandeis.edu<large legal paragraph omitted> Registrant: Brandeis University (BRANDEIS-DOM) Information Technology Services Waltham, MA 02454-9110 US Domain Name: BRANDEIS.EDU Administrative Contact: Koskovich, Bob (BK138) user@BRANDEIS.EDU +1-781-555-1212 (FAX) +1-781-555-1212 Technical Contact, Zone Contact: Hostmaster, Brandeis C (RCG51) hostmaster@BRANDEIS.EDU +1-781-555-1212 (FAX) +1-781-555-1212 Billing Contact: Koskovich, Bob (BK138) user@BRANDEIS.EDU +1-781-555-1212 (FAX) +1-781-555-1212 Record last updated on 13-Oct-1999. Record created on 27-May-1987. Database last updated on 19-Dec-1999 17:42:19 EST. Domain servers in listed order: LILITH.UNET.BRANDEIS.EDU 184.108.40.206 FRASIER.UNET.BRANDEIS.EDU ...