Now there’s a term you may not be familiar with. First there was hijacking of planes, then we coined the term car-jacking; and now it has moved to cyberspace. You might wonder why in the world someone would want to steal your domain name. Well, when you consider how valuable some of those names can be, the crime becomes understandable. Domain names like business.com, porn.com, movies.com, and so on are worth millions (they’ve actually sold for that much over the last decade)!
So, with that in mind, how does domain name hijacking occur, and what can you do to prevent or correct it? Now, first and foremost, domain hijacking is different from merely reregistering a domain name where the registration has expired and someone takes it over. That is perfectly legal. In the case of hijacking, a thief tricks the domain registrar into changing the registration information for the domain name to their name. Normally, this is but the final stage in a case of identity theft. So, if you find that a domain name of yours has been stolen, don’t just work to get it corrected; you also need to contact your bank, credit cards, and so on. Any unusual activity with any of your accounts needs to be investigated and halted.
In a typical case of hijacking, an individual will file some sort of false documents with the domain registrar to convince them that they are now the legitimate owner. Once this theft is discovered, the reaction from some domain registrars can be difficult to deal with. A lot are more than willing to quickly correct the matter, but some are absolutely adamant about not admitting to any fault on their part. These days, with people worried about lawsuits, some companies are loathed to admit that they accepted forged credentials. So, you may have to threaten, or even carry out, legal action in order for the domain registrar to correct the matter.
In some cases, people will not bother to take action against a hijacker. If the domain registrar is highly resistive to helping, a lengthy and complex lawsuit may have to be carried out. In that case, you may look at the situation and realize that the time and money you have to devote to getting your domain name back is too costly to justify. And, when you consider that the internet allows people around the world to hijack a website, your theft could be half a world away; this makes a lawsuit extremely difficult. Meanwhile, the whole time that you’re fighting to get your domain name back, the thief can do anything that they want with it. They can re-name the website, re-direct traffic to their website, and make money off of it.
So, when selecting a domain registrar, talk to them about the security measures they have in place. Ideally, you want them to at least use an authorization code. This may mean paying a bit more for your website, but – in the long run – it can prove beneficial. If your website is part of your livelihood, to lose it means to lose your income. So, you must protect it as you would your home and business – with security.
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