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.
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.
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.