Friday Five: 5 Ways to Protect Your Domain Against Cyber Attackers

Kathleen Borg
May 2, 2014

There are a number of common mistakes which cause domains to expire, be hijacked or deleted. However, being aware of these mistakes and taking the proper precautions can greatly increase the security of your domain names. Most importantly, keep your domain information up to date and consider consolidating your names with a registrar that provides the tools you need to securely manage and protect your domain names.

1. Turn On Registrar Lock

When considering which registrar to use, be sure to select one that implements a service called Registrar Lock (we like to call ours Account Lock) which can help prevent your domain from being accidentally or illegally transferred without your permission. Dynadot's account lock feature requires additional verification - beyond just username and password - before you can make changes to your account information, password, or domains. When you register your domain with Dynadot, the account lock feature is on by default. If you have temporarily turned it off, you can turn it back on by following a few steps. The idea behind the account lock helps prevent someone from transferring, modifying or deleting your domain and provides an extra layer of protection to prevent account and domain hijacking.

2. Opt for Domain Privacy

If you own a domain, ICANN, the non-profit organization that oversees the Internet, requires that your email address, mailing address, and phone number be made publicly available. This means your personal or business contact information is available for anyone - including spammers and possible domain hijackers - to find via a Whois lookup. Domain Privacy enables you to prevent your contact information from being made publicly available in Whois records. If you choose to add domain privacy to your domain, we essentially replace your contact information in the Whois database with our own. This is beneficial on the registrants behalf because domain name thieves can potentially use this public information and attempt to have your domain names transferred to a new owner, or to contact you to try to fool you into revealing your account password. Domain privacy also protects your email account from spammers and scammers who often use the public Whois database to create their mailing lists. For a mere $2 a year, we'll filter out all the spam and junk mail and forward you the rest.

3. Be suspicious of domain related e-mails you don't recognize

Do not reply or click on any links in any domain related e-mail you are not familiar with. Emails can carry "weaponised" links domain hijackers use to take you to a replicated version of your registrar's website where your account details can be captured. If you ever see an email asking you to log in to your account and administer your domain names by clicking on links contained in the email, it could potentially be a hijacking attempt. If ever in doubt, manually enter the address of your registrar in your browser before logging in or contact your registrar to verify any suspicious message.

4. Keep your account secure

Anyone who can access your account on your domain registrar's website can potentially hijack your domain name or transfer it to a new owner, so it's vital that your account is secure. That means it's important to ensure your account is protected by a long, strong password that can't easily be guessed or brute-forced by a hacker. You should also use any additional authentication methods (such as two-factor authentication using a security token or one-time passcode sentf by SMS to a cellphone) if your registrar offers them. It's also important to ensure the account password is changed if the person responsible for your domain names leaves your organization. Here at Dynadot, security is a top priority. In addition to your account password, we also have you choose a "birthday" (not necessarily your birthday, just a date that you will remember) that you then use to unlock your account. You can also use our SMS or Token Authorization for even more security. SMS authentication will text you a special code to unlock your account, while our Token authentication is an app for your smartphone that also gives you a code to unlock your account.

5. Update your spam filter's approved sender list

As most of you already know, renewing your domain is vital to keeping your domain and website alive. Although Dynadot and most other registrars send several renewal reminders, depending on your spam blocking settings- you may or may not be receiving these reminders and therefore run the risk of loosing your domain. You can easily prevent this from occurring by adding your registrar to your list of 'approved senders'. This will automatically ensure that all your renewal notices and important account emails make it to your inbox without hesitation.

Post by Kathleen Borg