Your domain name is vital to your business. Imagine one night customers wanting to visit your site to make a purchase are redirected to another website. Worse still, their contact and financial information gets skimmed. You’ll have many confused, angry and panicked customers. Domain hijacking or theft has caused to many companies to suffer would-be profit losses. Some of these losses can get into the millions of dollars. Domain hijacking often targets websites that are not secure, and have short and catchy URLs.
What Are Domain Names and How Do They Work?
A domain name is the part of the URL after the www. Often, the domain name is a company name or what a web page is about. There are two parts of a website: the domain name (what you see in the URL address) and the files of content that will go onto each page of the website.
The files are hosted on a server. The domain is bought and then hosted and stored on a domain registration company. You also need to sign up with a hosting company to upload the files from the server. Both the domain and web server files must be integrated for the website to function properly. Once the files are uploaded and the domain is registered on a hosting company site, the site owner configures the domain name to point to the files on his web server using the domain control panel. Once this is set up, Internet users will be able to see the correct webpage and content when they enter the domain name (URL) into the web browser.
What Happens When a Domain Gets Hijacked?
A domain is hijacked when it redirects to a server different from the original one. In cases of domain hacking, the hacker will direct the domain to their server. As a result, whenever an Internet user tries to access the site, he or she is directed to the hacker’s site instead of the original site.
How Does Domain Hijacking Happen?
A hacker needs to get control of the administrator’s domain control panel. From this control panel, the hacker can configure the domain to link to his or her own website server. The most common way for hackers to get access to the domain control panel is through accessing the administrator’s (owner’s) email address. There are two ways a hacker can access an email address: One through looking it up online and the other through sending malicious emails to the domain owner via email.
Hackers can easily access the domain owner’s email address online. To do this, they access WHOIS information at whois.domaintools.com. They simply enter in the domain name and click on the Look-up button. From here, all the information is loaded including the “administrative contact email address.” With information, a hacker can visit the domain registrar’s website and reset the login. Using the administrator email address and a new password, the hacker can now log in to the domain control panel. Another way hackers can get the administrator’s email is through sending malicious emails with software that can capture the owner’s email address.
How to Protect Your Domain From Being Hacked?
With many websites and domains not being adequately protected, domain hacking is a quick and easy process. Oftentimes, the domain gets hacked without the owner realizing it until months later. In cases where a domain is hacked, there is often little that the owner can do to get it back. In the U.S., only a few states recognize domains as property whereby owners can sue to get their domains back. Domain registrars that are secure can be breached and be unable to return a stolen domain name. To avoid the stress and headaches of lost business due to a domain hack, here are 7 ways you can protect your domain:
- Be on the look-out for suspicious emails. Keep an eye out for emails from domain registers like GoDaddy that requires you to login because your site has been compromised.
- Invest in extra security precautions. Sign up for multi-step authentication with your domain registrar. The extra steps will make it harder for hackers to access your information. Also, consider having a “registrar lock” put on your domain which requires you to “unlock” it transfer it. With this, hackers will need both your email address and your registrar account. Look into a registrar that automatically locks after entering multiple incorrect passwords and doesn’t send log-in credentials to any email address. It is a good idea to also pay more to have your contact information, including your email hidden from public view. GoDaddy has this feature available for an extra $8 per year. More sophisticated security features such as phone call authentication for domain transfers and PIN numbers are also available on other sites for extra costs.
- Keep meticulous records. When your domain is stolen, it helps in a lawsuit or in the recovery of your domain if you can readily provide ownership information such as registration and billing records.
- Pick an enterprise-class domain name registry. Small domains of small businesses are the most vulnerable to hackers because they often don’t have the high level of security as big companies and corporation have. Bolstering your plan and protection to the same level of a larger company can give your domain more protection.
- Keep current with security patches and software. Make sure you apply the latest security patches to your web servers so that hackers can’t exploit known software vulnerabilities.
- Know where your site traffic is going. Seeing a sharp drop off or periods on inactivity only our site is worth looking into. If you discover that your domain redirects you to another web page, you know something is wrong.
- Request DNSSEC from your registrar. DNSSEC is a security extension that can be added onto your domain name system that guarantees that a user won’t be redirected between when they click to go to your site and when they arrive at your site.
Your domain name is your businesses’ presence online. Invest in a high-quality domain and keep a vigilant eye on it. A domain name needs to represent your business. If you want to purchase a domain name already made, visit DomainMarket.com. Here you’ll find a variety of premium domain names appropriate for any kind of interest and field. Contact us today to get your business up and running on the web.