In recent years, many high-profile companies have been victims of domain name hijacking. Hijacking occurs when hackers illegally transfer a domain to a different account.
Domain name hijackers are not always crazed hackers. You may have a competitor who is employing shady tactics to steal your customers, or an irate former client who is trying to get even. In the world of e-business, you cannot be too careful and domain name hijacking is a considerable concern. Read up on Domain Name Basics.
In one case, an Internet service provider had its domain name taken in the middle of the night. More than 5,000 customers lost Web connectivity and lost access to their email accounts. Someone had transferred the domain without the company’s knowledge, and the company in charge of the transfer did not go through the mandatory security checks before approving the transfer. The ISP eventually regained its name, but not before relationships with its customers had been severely damaged.
And that’s a happy ending. Many hijacked companies never recover their domains.
Your domain name is your Internet identity, and it should be protected at all costs. Here are some steps you can take to help ensure that this does not happen to you.
1. Put a lock on transfers. Most domain registrars will allow you to put a “lock” on any transfers after you have purchased your domain. This means that you will not be able to transfer your domain to another registrar, but no one else will be allowed to either. If you do need to transfer your domain, you can temporarily unlock it until the process is complete. Although not foolproof, this is the single most effective tactic to ensure that you don’t become a hijacking victim.
2. Suppress your contact information. When you register your domain, you will be asked to provide an administrative contact for the domain. By making this private, or by using a P.O. box as a mailing address, you can reduce the risk of hackers using this information to pull off a hijack.
3. Trademark your domain. If you do get hijacked and your domain name is trademarked, you will have a much easier time proving your case. Trademarking can cost anywhere from $300 to $3000. If you have an attorney handle the trademarking of your domain, the costs are higher than if you file the paperwork yourself. Learn more about Trademarking Your Domain.
4. Set up alternative communications. In the event of a hijacking, your email accounts will not function or may be compromised. If you use your email address for sensitive company information or for customer contact, establish a secondary email address that is not reliant on your domain name. This will ensure that you are not completely cut off during a hijacking.
No one likes to imagine this kind of problem attacking their business, and many companies mistakenly think they are too small to be a target of a domain name hijacker. However, it is much easier to take these steps to ensure that you are prepared, no matter what may happen.