How to Avoid Having Your URL Redirected by a Hacker

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Can you imagine waking up to find your URL redirected to a random website you don’t recognize? Sound unreal? It’s not. This happened to someone two days ago, and he was desperately posting in a popular online forum for help.

He had worked on a website for 5 years. It took off. With an Alexa ranking that broke the 18,000 mark and an enviable membership list, this veteran IMer was living the high life after years of toiling away at his passion project. Then, one day, he was locked out. His URL redirected to a random website he did not recognize. Fearing the worst, he checked the WHOIS database to make sure all was well.

It wasn’t.

Scammers had transferred his domain into their account and a name he did not recognize was listed as the owner. The site was now being listed as existing somewhere in Dubai. He sold digital products on his website – thousands – and they were all stolen in the blink of an eye. His customers? Gone. His monthly income? Vanished. He contacted his registrar and they were wholly uncooperative, they refused to help in the least because they informed him that his domain was unlocked. There was nothing they could do.

Think it can’t happen to you? Think again. Tools and technology are getting more and more sophisticated, and if you don’t take steps to protect your online business before it gets big, you may wake up one day to find your URL redirected too.

How to Avoid Having Your URL Redirected

The first and most important thing you can do to protect your domain is never to let it expire. Most domain registrars send out renewal notices, but many are opting to send them electronically. If you have old contact information, you could miss the notice altogether. Some may not even send a notice at all. Make sure you record in a calendar or planner the date your domain is set to expire, and give yourself plenty of time to renew it before that date arrives.

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Also, when you register your domains, it’s a good idea to make sure you choose “private registration” to hide your contact information from potential scammers. Many know how to get domain name information in the WHO IS domain name database. With this information, they attempt to hack your email. From there they they can easily break into your hosting account and transfer the domain. Selecting private registration when you purchase the domain is a good way to prevent this from happening.

You should also be aware that scammers are breaking into Gmail accounts in record numbers. This is a big issue of late, and people with higher-profile websites are especially vulnerable. Whether you have Gmail or another type of email account, you should take precautions. Enable extra security features if your email provider offers them, learn how to make secure passwords and change them often, and never give out your login information to anyone for any reason.

Finally, when you purchase your domain name, whatever you do, keep it locked. To perform some functions, you may have to unlock the domain name, but be sure to lock it again when you’re done. Locking your domain name helps to protect it from unauthorized transfers. This step is not a guarantee that someone cannot have your URL redirected, but it is a good measure you can take to help protect one of your most important business assets online.

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Leave A Reply (4 comments So Far)

  1. Chris
    762 days ago

    Hey Simon,

    Over the last year I have been building up my SEO empire and I have been doing quite well, around a month ago something strange happened…. All my sites stopped converting!

    At first I thought it was strange but couldn’t see any reasons why this could be, I was still ranked for everything and I could still access my sites.

    A week later I went onto a blog network that I use only to be greeted with a warning saying that they had blocked my account as my sites in the network contained malware. I checked my sites and they seemed fine.

    I messaged the network and they told me to google my sites, so I did. I straight away found that my sites were being redirected to another site, a spam site!

    I quickly started checking every domain that I own only to find that every site was infected.

    I contacted my host and they were less than helpful. I found some info online of where to find the code on my sites but on closer inspection my sites are laced with this malware in all of the files in the back end.

    What makes this worse is two weeks ago I fried my hard drive containing all of my backups…. But hey there’s no rush to make new nothing will ever happen to me as it hasn’t in the past….. I was wrong.

    I am currently facing losing everything I have worked so hard for and seeing my sites fall and be flagged as spam. I am trying to move to a different host where they can help me but I have already lost all of my income!

    I have learnt a great lesson from this albeit through learning the hard way. This is very real and can happen to YOU! protect your selves at all time and keep that shit backed up again AT ALL TIMES!

    Great post Simon

  2. Jane Somner
    756 days ago

    Go on doing what you do as we enjoy reading your work.

  3. Rich Shaw
    754 days ago

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the article as I wasn’t aware of how widespread this hacking had become.

    I had already heard a few months ago that this was on the increase and I have taken measures to avoid the same problems that others have faced.

    In todays online enviroment you must do everything you can to protect your business otherwise you can lose everything in a tap of the enter key!

  4. Noel Cunningham
    746 days ago

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for highlighting this issue, I read the post that you mentioned with shock and couldn’t believe how easy it is for a hacker to steal your site and with it you subscribers, your income and your business…

    I wouldn’t be an expert on site security but I’m definitely going to look into and implement the procedures that you’ve outlined for us above. It’s amazing how easy it could be for a hacker to steal your online business from right under your nose….

    All the best – Noel.

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