One of the most important digital aspects of your business that you can protect is your domain name. With it, you are able to effectively brand your business and ensure that both customers and those with potential business interests can find you online, and you can tailor your SEO and organic link building to take into account the domain name – or names – that you have chosen. Unfortunately, maintaining control of your domain name and ensuring that only appropriate information is disclosed on the WHOIS listing of domain name owners is becoming increasingly difficult, but there are several ways you can help ensure that your domain name remains in the right hands and that you do not fall victim to any type of scam.
Preventing WHOIS Piracy with WHOIS Privacy and Domain Locking
The first line of defense in protecting your domain name is what is known as WHOIS Privacy. WHOIS directories allow anyone with Internet access and a desire to do so to find out who owns a domain, as well as obtain email address and phone number information. According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), anyone who owns or manages a domain must make this information available publicly on WHOIS directories. Also known as Contact Privacy, WHOIS Privacy is a service that many domain name registrars will offer clients in order to help keep their details confidential. Typically, you will buy a domain name and protection from the same provider, who will then replace your WHOIS information with the information of a forwarding service. This will prevent your real phone number and email address from going public and possibly be used by those looking commit fraud or simply looking to increase their spam mailing lists. In some cases, these providers will be willing to provide your information to outside parties at the first hint of legal action, while others will take steps to ensure that even your payments to them are confidential and cannot be traced.
Another way to help protect your domain name and prevent any changes from being made to it is with the use of domain locking. A domain lock is also known as a registrar lock and is a status code set on your domain name by your registrar. When a domain lock is in place, you will be unable to modify your domain name, transfer your domain name or delete your domain name, but will be able to renew it as required. This lock ensures that no one is able to steal your domain name, and that you will be unable to change your domain name, even if prompted to do so as a part of a scam. In most cases, having a domain lock will not interfere with the operation of your website.
The Importance of Staying Up-To-Date
It’s also crucial that you do not let your domain contact information lapse, and that you notify your domain registrar with any changes in your email address, phone number or physical address of your company. If your domain registrar cannot contact you regarding matters of domain security and domain name registration, you may find yourself with reduced or no access to your domain. While your contact information may not be made public if you have paid for contact privacy, ensuring that your registrar has your correct information is essential.
One other easy way to protect your domain name and your brand is to always know who you are using as your domain name registrar. Companies that sell domain names will often change the names they use, and many have similarly themed names. This means that you will be receiving emails from companies other than the one that supplies your domain registration and security, perhaps trying to lure you away at renewal time. Once you provide them with enough information or access to your domain, they will be able to supplant your current provider or take control of your domain. By making sure that you always know who your registrar is and responding only to them, you will be able to minimize the number of potential security breaches.
Your domain name speaks to your brands, and was likely carefully chosen for maximum effect. Losing control of your domain could mean damage to your website or a significant cost to recover the name if it is taken by another company. Simple steps like WHOIS privacy, domain locking and staying in contact with your registrar can go a long way to ensuring that your domain always remains firmly in your control and that your customers and clients can easily find you online.