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A Website without a Domain Name?


Lost In Cyberia
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Hey everyone. I have a pretty random question today. Is it possible for you to have a website, that's fully functional, and publically accessible, without a domain name attached to it? So let's say you have a dedicated web server running apache or iis, it has a publically facing IP address, and the router it's behind can pass port 80 traffic to it, no problem. If people knew the IP address for this host, can they access the website and bypass a domain name, and therefore bypass any sort of DNS resolution?

I know you can get to a website by using it's IP address, but I'm wondering if it would work without ANY domain name attached to it. This address would not be listed in the local DNS records right? Is this possible?

Thanks guys!

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Yes. Just make sure you have a static IP addresses, or you will have to keep telling everyone your new address.

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Hey everyone. I have a pretty random question today. Is it possible for you to have a website, that's fully functional, and publically accessible, without a domain name attached to it? So let's say you have a dedicated web server running apache or iis, it has a publically facing IP address, and the router it's behind can pass port 80 traffic to it, no problem. If people knew the IP address for this host, can they access the website and bypass a domain name, and therefore bypass any sort of DNS resolution?

I know you can get to a website by using it's IP address, but I'm wondering if it would work without ANY domain name attached to it. This address would not be listed in the local DNS records right? Is this possible?

Thanks guys!

Yes. just keep in mind that if the IP Changes, people won't be able to reach it, so if you were to say, register with DynDNS, you could run a server from home at all times. your ISP on the otherhand may block port 80, so it's recommended to use something like 8080 or higher port numbers but that is mainly based on your ISP and their rules. I've setup VM's before to test development of my own themes and such and been able to work remotely to home this way, allowing me to finish development on the road. just know you are opening up your machine to the internet as well, so take that into consideration, hence, why I used a VM to do this.

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Possible, certainly. And very much in the way you say: access it via its direct IP. That does require the server to be dedicated to your website (webservers can provide you with a different site based on the domain name you used when accessing the server. It's how 'domain parking' works) but you running it off of your home IP is a very good and in fact pretty common example. And precisely because people prefer to access sites via a domain name rather than an opaque IP address that in some cases might fluctuate wildly, those who host from their home IP typically use services like DynDNS so they can use a domain name without incurring the cost of buying one and update it each time their IP changes if need be.

Now precisely because IP addresses are so opaque and thus cumbersome, there's a very good chance your ISP will have DNS name for your current IP address. It probably has very little to do with you personally when you, say, dial in for your internet access. When you have a static IP it might reveal more about you than you'd like. In the old days, an UK ISP called Demon Internet that was also active in .NL allowed its customers to have a static IP (which was unusual since most people were on dial-up back then) and let them hand-pick their DNS (demon.nl subdomain)name, meaning that if you wanted, each time you went online it would show up as "cyberia.demon.nl" or, if you had a bit too much trust in the world and a common last name, you could pick "ActualLastNameActualCity.demon.nl" or some such. But I digress.

Bottom line is that any IP you can get your hands on will almost certainly have some DNS record pointing at it. You can look it up by doing a reverse lookup on any IP.

The only thing that requires you to have a DNS name is when you want to host multiple sites from the same machine. For everything else it's simply convenient, which can be a very compelling argument.

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A domain name and webserver are two separate things completely. A domain name just maps words to an IP address so not having a domain name is no problem at all

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Thanks everyone! I just wanted to verify this... lol at Cooper...You always have a way of crafting such a complete and comprehensive explanation... You ever think about being a teacher?

@ Cooper, are the ISP provisioned names linked to our IP addresses, is there any regulation to this? What types of names and infomation are applied to our IP's?

Also @ Cooper, not to digress either, but how can someone have and receive a static IP address when using Dial-up? Does it remember which customer had which IP via it's MAC address or something?

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You ever think about being a teacher?

I enjoy explaining stuff the first time but when the exact same people later ask me a far too similar question I get frustrated because I already explained it best I could and the person in question clearly didn't get it (or didn't bother to remember it). I think teachers need to be more resilient than I am.

the ISP provisioned names linked to our IP addresses, is there any regulation to this? What types of names and infomation are applied to our IP's?

The ISP has full control, so whatever makes sense to them goes. Look up the Defcon talk "Pwned by the owner" by Zoz where just under 8 minutes in the DNS name for the person who stole the speaker's machine is shown. You'll notice it includes the city in abbreviated form but the rest is, to us, just a bunch of characters.

how can someone have and receive a static IP address when using Dial-up? Does it remember which customer had which IP via it's MAC address or something?

We're talking dial-up, meaning you logged in to get access... Come to think of it, it's a pretty good way to prevent 2 people sharing a single ISP account but going online at overlapping times.

Edited by Cooper
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The ISP has full control, so whatever makes sense to them goes. Look up the Defcon talk "Pwned by the owner" by Zoz where just under 8 minutes in the DNS name for the person who stole the speaker's machine is shown. You'll notice it includes the city in abbreviated form but the rest is, to us, just a bunch of characters.

We're talking dial-up, meaning you logged in to get access... Come to think of it, it's a pretty good way to prevent 2 people sharing a single ISP account but going online at overlapping times.

Just to add to Cooper (I have and still do work for ISPs in the UK) -

ISPs usually only add PTR records (sometimes called rDNS or Reverse DNS) to the IPs. These mappings are usually internal use in the ISP to keep track of what the ip block is used for, etc. If you have a static IP address, the ISP should allow you to change it, but you will require a domain name for that. These are also used as a basic method to prevent spam, hence why the ISP should allow you to change it.

Dial-up (generally in ISPs) uses a system called radius. This hasn't really changed in 20+ years, and is now used for ADSL and certain other technologies like VPNs. Static addresses can be assigned to the account, so it's tied to your username / password combination.

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Radius is also what's used by what here in .NL is called "WifiSpots" - an additional hotspot open to customers with the same ISP so people can use Wifi on their phone (say) using your router (but channelled across a separate subnet which supposedly has 0 relation to your private/personal wifi subnet). I think a similar service is called XFINITY in the US.

Oh, and because RADIUS doesn't do much of anything in terms of encryption, harvesting these credentials is disgustingly trivial.

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