Secretly searching for a domain name

Have you ever searched for a domain name, discovered it was available, only to see it vanish (or drastically increase in price) a couple of hours later as you were about to buy it?

Registering a domain can unexpectedly turn into a frustrating game of cat and mouse. This is mainly due to a practice known as domain name front running where a domain name Registrar registers domains purely for the purpose of reselling them or earning revenue from a landing page created for that domain. This practice exploits the perfectly legal domain tasting five day trial period in which a domain can be locked without payment.

Often times inside information is used which could include your actual searches for a domain name. Unfortunately there’s no simple solution for overcoming this other than to be ready to purchase a domain when you search for it. Another option is to search for available domain names using the WHOIS database rather than a domain name Registrar’s search function. This is because it’s very difficult to know which Registrar is involved in this questionable practice.

A simple command line tool for querying this database can be installed on Ubuntu using sudo apt-get install whois . Unfortunately the Registry database contains only .com, .net and .edu domains and Registrars.

To lookup a specific domain name, simply type whois  Below is an example output from searching for the domain name.

Domain Name: GOOGLE.COM
Registry Domain ID: 2138514_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Updated Date: 2019-09-09T15:39:04Z
Creation Date: 1997-09-15T04:00:00Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2028-09-14T04:00:00Z
Registrar: MarkMonitor Inc.
Registrar IANA ID: 292
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.2083895740
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Domain Status: serverDeleteProhibited
Domain Status: serverTransferProhibited
Domain Status: serverUpdateProhibited
Name Server: NS1.GOOGLE.COM
Name Server: NS2.GOOGLE.COM
Name Server: NS3.GOOGLE.COM
Name Server: NS4.GOOGLE.COM
DNSSEC: unsigned
URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form:
>>> Last update of whois database: 2019-10-05T12:19:40Z <<<


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