As a blogger, you’re probably well aware of many of the different types of cyber attacks and online security risks. Yet have you ever considered whether a hacker would want to take your domain name? Domain hijacking or domain theft involves a hacker changing the registration of a domain name without the owner’s consent.
It may be a lesser-known problem, but it can have devastating consequences for bloggers and businesses alike. Therefore, it’s essential that you understand how domain theft happens and add a few extra security measures to those you already use.
Would a Hacker Want Your Domain Name?
The short answer is absolutely. There are quite a few hackers who specialize in stealing as many domain names as they can. Some of them use or sell the domain names immediately, but many simply stockpile stolen domain names to use or sell later. It is clear that domain names are a valuable resource, which is exactly why it’s so important to stop your domain name from being hijacked.
Why Would a Hacker Want Your Domain Name?
Some hackers hijack domain names to use them in scams, such as phishing. Here the hacker replaces your website with an identical one that collects your users’ data, such as passwords or credit card details. Hackers also use hijacked websites to spread spam and malware. Other hackers hijack domain names just to prove that they can. Some hackers simply get a twisted sense of glee from vandalizing other people’s websites.
That being said, the main reason hackers hijack domain names is to make money. Some hackers steal domain names and try to sell them back to their rightful owners, while others stockpile them for later use or sale. Domain names can be shockingly expensive, with sex.com selling for $13 million in 2010. It’s entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest domain-only sale in history. While insurance.com sold for a whopping $35.6 million in 2010, the company who bought it also got other assets in the deal. Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made from domain hijacking.
Short or memorable domain names are the most prized because they’re easy for users to remember. Michael Lee owned and used MLA.com for his graphic design and advertising firm for 20 years, but such a simple domain name proved irresistible to hackers. They hijacked MLA.com, but luckily Lee did eventually get it back.
How Would a Hacker Get Your Domain Name?
When a domain name owner wants to change their account details with the registrar of their domain name, they do so by phone, email or through the registrar’s website. This means that there are four ways that hackers can steal domain names. They can use social engineering, access the owner’s email account, access the owner’s account on the registrar’s website or access the registrar’s system (usually through some security weakness).
Social engineering may sound quite complex, but all it means is that the hacker calls the registrar and pretends to be the domain name owner. The hacker asks the registrar to link the domain name to a different email address (the hacker’s email address) and gets full control of the domain name.
Alternatively, a hacker can hack into the owner’s account on the registrar’s website or the owner’s email account. Hackers have no problem getting into many email accounts, so this is the most common method hackers use.
Can You Get Your Domain Name Back?
It is possible to get your domain name back after it’s been hijacked, but it’s quite difficult. Most registrars use contracts that limit their liability by stating that the domain name owner is solely responsible for the security of their domain name. This means that not many people do manage to get their hijacked domain names back. There have been cases where people have managed to get their domain names back, such as Michael Lee. However, it does take a lot of time and effort. It is far better to take precautions in the first place.
How You Can Protect Your Domain Name
Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to protect your domain name from hackers. The following security measures will go a long way to keeping your domain name safe:
- Practice good password habits
- Use security software on all your devices
- Log out of your blog when you’re not working on it
- Use a Virtual Private Network
- Enable two-factor authentication for your email account
- Enable two-factor authentication for your account on your domain name registrar’s website
- Purchase the non-transferability domain name feature if your registrar offers it
As a blogger, your domain name is a very valuable resource, and hackers can’t wait to get their hands on it. Given how hard it is to get a stolen domain name back, it’s much better to focus on protecting it in the first place.
Has your domain name been hijacked? If so, did you manage to get it back? Please let us know in the comments section.
About the Author: Cassie is a tech blogger for Secure Thoughts, where she focuses mainly on cybersecurity and innovations in the tech world. She’s passionate about blogging and hopes this post helps you protect your beloved blog!