Are you ready to secure your domain name from fraud, spam, and hacking?
A domain name is one of the most valuable assets of your business. If anything happens to your domain, it could jeopardize your traffic, engagement, revenue, and even your reputation.
In this guide, we’ll reveal the threats that your domain faces and the right precautions you need to take to protect it at all times.
Why is My Domain Not Secure?
When you have anything valuable, there will be people out to steal it, damage it, and destroy it.
These people could hackers, burglars, and competitors who want to jeopardize your business.
So what makes your domain valuable and why would anyone want to steal it? Here are the top reasons:
- Money: Attackers try to illegally transfer domain names which they can later resell for a hefty sum. There are attacks where they demand a ransom to release the domain name back to you.
- Fraud: If you’ve built a trusted brand name, hackers can hijack your domain to sell counterfeit products and defraud customers.
- Data Theft: Data has become one of the most valuable assets today. Hackers would love to get their hands on your customer data and payment information. They can use phishing tactics to try to steal confidential and sensitive user data related to your domain that can be sold on the black market.
- Hacktivism: There are times where activists hijack popular websites to display political agenda, religious beliefs, and protests.
- Competitors: Malicious entities and competitors may want to disrupt your business, SEO, and communication.
There could be many other reasons why someone would want to attack your domain. When this occursw you could face scenarios like this:
- You’ll find an error page or malicious content on your site. This could be caused by changes in your DNS information such as your nameserver or host records.
- Your WHOIS contact information will no longer display your contact details. Instead, it will list someone else’s name, email, address, and phone number. This is a sign that someone is prepping to transfer your domain illegally.
- Your website will not load as someone has taken over your domain account and website admin.
- You won’t see your domain name inside your domain account. This means someone has transferred it out without your knowledge. It could also be that you forgot to renew your domain name in time and it was put back on the market for sale or auction.
- You’ll receive fake emails with suspicious links trying to dupe you into clicking them so that they can access your account or steal confidential data.
Business owners stand to also lose customers and revenue.
The truth is there are new cyber threats emerging almost every day. Once you lose access to your site or domain, it can cost you a lot to get it back.
You’ll need to file a dispute, hire a lawyer, pay fines in case of data breaches, and you’ll likely incur a long list of expenses.
It will also take time so your business will be impacted by this as well. Overall, it can be hard to recover from this.
To combat these threats, you need to take measures to make your domain secure.
How to Secure My Domain Name
When you buy a domain name, if it’s from a reputable domain name registrar, you can rest assured that they’ve taken plenty of precautions to keep their platform secure. These registrars include Bluehost, Domain.com, Namecheap, and GoDaddy.
Most of the time, unauthorized access to domains is granted by the domain owner. Hackers target website owners to get critical information or maybe even just wait for them to accidentally forget to renew their website’s domain.
Below, we’ll give you tips and tricks to safeguard your domain against hackers, competitors, and even human error. We’ll start with the basics and move to the advanced steps.
Prevent Unauthorized Domain Access
1. Choose a strong password
Many times, hackers are able to gain access to domains because the owner’s credentials are commonly used login IDs and passwords.
Some of the most common user IDs include admin, guest, and your own name. The most commonly used passwords include qwerty123, password123, aa12345678, and 1q2w3e.
If you’ve been using generic credentials, you need to change that right away. Make sure to use a passphrase that combines capital and small letters, numbers, and symbols.
You also want to periodically change passwords to sensitive accounts such as your WordPress admin and domain & hosting account.
2. Enable 2 factor authentication
With 2FA or two factor authentication, a one-time password is generated in real time and sent to your mobile phone or email address. This makes it harder for any unauthorized person to access your domain registrar account.
Even if they know your login credentials, they would need the OTP to authorize the login.
With 2FA, you’ll also immediately know if someone’s trying to login to your domain account and you can be alert about any suspicious activity `in your account.
3. Limiting specific IP address access
If you have multiple people working on a website and need to grant them access to the domain account, you can mark their IP addresses as safe.
This feature is offered by some domain registrars. You’ll need to check with your domain registrar if they offer this feature and how to enable it on your domain.
Once enabled, only the IP addresses you mark as safe will be able to access your domain. So now you can grant special access to web designers, freelancers, SEO specialists, and so on. Any other IP address will not be granted access.
Prevent Unauthorized Domain Transfers
1. Lock your domain name
Every domain registrar is required to provide this feature inside your domain account. They lock your domain name so that it cannot be transferred.
Usually, it is activated by default to prevent accidental and unauthorized domain transfers. Only when you want to transfer your domain, you’ll need to switch off the domain lock to release the domain.
You’ll want to make sure that the domain lock is turned on at all times unless you’re authorizing a transfer.
2. Enable Domain Status notifications
Every reliable domain registrar will send email or SMS notifications to alert you about any activity regarding your domain. You’ll want to enable these notifications so that you are immediately aware if there is any suspicious activity in your account.
Make sure you provide valid contact details so that you don’t miss important alerts regarding domain renewal notices, transfer updates, DNS changes (domain name system), and so on.
Prevent Accidental Domain Expiration
Register your domain name for 10 years
If you have the budget for this and you plan on running your online business for a long time, then you should register your domain for the maximum period.
ICANN, the body that governs the internet, lets you register a domain name for a maximum of 10 years at a time. So there’s no way to register a domain name forever.
The best way to go about this is to register your domain name for 10 years. That way, you’ll get a good deal on the price and you can be sure the domain is yours for 10 years.
Many of our users have reached out to us about how to get back their expired domain name. This mostly happens because they missed the renewal date and the domain crossed its grace period.
To avoid this, we recommend turning on Auto Renew mode for your domain. When the domain is about to expire, your domain registrar will notify you that your domain is going to automatically renew soon.
They will charge your credit card or the payment method you have active with them and your domain will continue to be registered in your name.
Provide backup payment details
Sometimes, even if your domain was set to auto renew, your domain registrar may not be able to complete the process if your payment method is no longer valid.
Maybe the credit card you have on file has now expired, or the bank account you were using has since been closed.
It’s important to keep your payment information up to date and also to add a backup payment method.
So if one payment method fails, the registrar can always try the second method.
Provide backup contact information
If you ever switch your email ID or phone number, you’ll miss out on important communications from your domain registrar.
It’s best practice to add backup contact information such as an alternative mobile number and email address.
Or when you change your number or email, you need to remember to come back to your domain account and update this information here.
Prevent Misuse of Your Domain & Brand
1. Register variations of your domain name
Many times, people may want to ride the wave of your popularity by registering similar domain names or the same name with a different domain extensions.
They could impersonate you or may just be trying to set up their own website. But this could confuse your users.
To avoid this, you can register variations of your domain name. You can also register other extensions like .net, .biz, and .io. You may want to read more about extensions in our guide on top-level domains (tlds)
Then you can point these domains to your main domain. If any traffic visits the other domains, they’ll be redirected to your main website.
2. Trademark your domain
If your domain name is the same as your brand name, such as Nameboy and nameboy.com, you can register a trademark for it.
Then no one else will be able to use this domain name even if someone tries to steal it or resell it. If you have an eCommerce site, a trademark becomes even more important.
With a registered trademark, you can take legal action against them. It becomes fast and easy to get the domain name back.
Prevent Misuse of Your Personal Data
1. Enable domain privacy
When you register your domain name, you need to provide your name, email address, office/home address, and your phone number. These details are then added to the WHOIS database which is a public record.
Anyone who wants to find out who owns your domain simply needs to type in the domain name in the ICANN Lookup tool. They can view all your information along with the domain name registration and expiration date.
To hide your data in this record, you can enable domain privacy.
Many domain registrars let you do this for a nominal fee (around $8.99 per year). There are some registrars like Dreamhost who offer it for free.
The domain registrar will remove your information and replace it with their own hosting company details.
2. Use a VPN
Even if you hide your data in the WHOIS record, if a hacker really wants to trace you, they have their ways.
Usually, they’ll try to intercept your connection and steal cookies and find out your IP address.
They can then go further into hacking your browser, system, and database.
To prevent this, we recommend using a VPN service that will mask your IP address and location. This makes it harder for the average hacker to bypass.
Check out this guide from WPBeginner: 5 Best VPN Services for WordPress Users (Compared)
Keep in mind, advanced hackers can break through this barrier as well.
Here are a few bonus tips to help you stay safe.
BONUS TIPS on Cybersecurity
- Always use a reliable and trusted domain registrar and web hosting provider like Bluehost.
- Install SSL certificates on all your domains and subdomains. See our guides: How to Get a Free SSL Certificate For Your Domain and How to Get SSL Certificate Working on Subdomains.
- Install anti-virus monitoring and scanning on your system
- Install a firewall plugin on your website. Check out our recommended plugin Sucuri.
- Never click on links in emails and messages you don’t trust
- Do not share OTPs and other confidential information
- If you have multiple domains, you might want to subscribe to a domain management service like Network Solutions. Read more about this in our review: Network Solutions Review
That’s all we have for you today! With these best practices, your domain should be secured. We hope you found this post helpful. Up next, you’ll want to see our guides:
- What’s an SSL Certificate (and Why Do You Need One)?
- How to Check a Domain’s History Before Buying it (Steps + Tips)
- How to Change Your Domain Name: A Step-by-Step Guide
These resources will help you better understand your website security and history. The last one will help you switch domains if you ever need to.