Beware of stolen domain names
Domain Hijacking is the most common form of theft these days, as many of the companies which have suffered from this crime noticed. It is a form of theft in which the attacker takes access of a domain name without the real consent of the original owner. There are many reasons why hijacking can happen but some of them include the end of domain company or due to many security flaws.
In these days when most of the businesses run online, hacking into someone’s website and depriving them of a domain name should be considered almost as leaving them without their profits or earnings. When a domain name is a huge asset to a company, depriving them of it is as leaving them without their internet identity.
As mentioned, one of the main reasons that can cause a company’s domain name to be stolen is the negligence towards security. When a new domain name is created, it is provided with access to the domain’s Control Panel. From this control panel, one can change the domain’s set according to his wish. Also, when the account is created, it must have an email address that will further provide the owner of the domain with the administrative access. Most of the email and other information is usually recorded in WHOIS data records, and if the hacker manages to obtain it from there – he will have control over whole domain’s control panel and furthermore all the settings.
The other important reason may be due to the security issues with the company’s domain provider. If in any case, the hacker gets to the access to back-end services that are provided by the company’s Register – the domain is at high risk of getting hijacked. So, the first thing considering when you open the domain is the trusted domain provider.
There may be one more reason as well. If in any case company’s domain register expired, and the auto-renewal has been disabled, someone in the meantime may register the domain and the company will be left without anything. This is completely legal and the company then cannot take any further measures. In order to minimize, the risk of this happening – every company should register the domain name for longer durations and above all, enable auto-renewal.
There are a number of things for which stolen domain names could be used for:
- Malicious use – when the hijacked domains become inaccessible and they have been the sources of income, money is lost and as well the online identity of the company. There are numerous way in which a hacker can get a lot from the domain’s owner – he may demand money in order to return the domain name to its legal owner or worse, he may replace the website with some other, similar to the original one, and the use it for phishing or any other dangerous activity. When the users of the company are not aware that the hacker leads the website, they may continue to trust it, giving to it sensitive credentials and putting themselves at risk.
- Domain transfer – in this case, the hacker gives the domain’s ownership to some other party. If this happens – then it is almost impossible to get the domain back. If furthermore, the hacker manages to impersonate the owner of the domain and to request in his name the transfer of the domain – the case is closed. It may be the most difficult scenario a certain company may encounter. Legal help is a must. Also, if the victim of the stolen domain cannot convince the domain provider about the thing that has happened, the provider may decline to cooperate.
There are, however, the ways of preventing stealing of the domains. Prevention is the cure!
The first step, of course, include getting a good and trusted domain provider. It all starts with the basics. There is a list of ICANN accredited registrars, and if the domain provider is on the list – it is safe to trust it.
Once the company registers and creates the account – creating a strong password to the Control Panel is a must. Not only to the Control Panel but to the connected Email account as well. Unique passwords that are hard to breach are the first level of security. However, one must take care of maintaining the great security of the email account that is connected to the domain.
If the hacker gets to the email address, he may easily reach into a number of accounts connected to it. Email security settings should be reviewed in real time! Sometimes enabling the most basic things like two-factor authentication or the sign alerts may help the domain to stay safe. If the email address associated with the domain is secure – the domain is protected.
There is also a way of opting for WHOIS privacy – in this case, the domain’s data on WHOIS will be hidden or changed. The hacker does not stand the chance of getting the real details then.
There are also steps that one may take if the domain has been stolen.
The first of course is to contact the domain’s registrar. Calling the support team and giving them insight into the situation, then completing the necessary paperwork – it starts from there. The registrar sometimes offers 24/7 service support: one must consider this while choosing a registrar.
The other option is contacting the ICANN Registrar. If the domain’s owner chose the ICANN’s accredited domain registrar, then the benefits of offering dispute resolutions by them are guaranteed.
In conclusion, recovering a stolen domain name is most definitely a hard job – so the imperative is to take care of maintaining adequate website security. If the protection is involved, hijacking may be prevented. Keeping the Control Panel and email password secured and enabling the security are some of the first steps. And as they say – better safe than sorry. Once the domain name is stolen – the question is if the one will be able to regain it at all.