Do Expired Domains Help Hackers Steal Your Data? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
A domain name change is vital in certain situations. It’s often done when brands or sites merge or rename, the business niche changes, a new extension is in order, or there’s a need to switch things up. Irrespective of the reason, it’s essential to be cautious when disposing of your old domain.
Security researchers say that expired domains put your data at risk. Scammers may set up fake shops using discarded domains to steal credit card data from unwary bargain hunters, scam email accounts linked to the domain, or break into personal employee accounts to exploit company secrets.
Though you can renew all your domains to keep them protected, that isn’t always easily possible, especially if you have a lot of domains. Here’s what you need to know about expired domains.
What happens to expired domain names?
When a domain expires, it becomes available to anyone who wants to purchase it for a price. These domains can be easily found through domain registrars that list recently expired domains to bid on. While some buyers apply for expired domains for legitimate projects, others aren’t so ethical and could use them for malicious intentions.
The new domain owner can:
- Set up a fake e-commerce store. If people visit this store and make a purchase, cybercriminals running the page can easily collect their contact and bank details.
- Set up a catch-all email forwarding service. This allows them access to confidential client emails and data to run scams or sell the information on the dark web.
- Take over the social media, professional and banking accounts of the employees by changing the passwords linked to the email of the old domains.
How can expired domains harm you?
Let’s say you accessed Google apps using your domain as the domain owner. Now, the new owner can enter your Google account via a simple process. They just need to go through the domain reclamation process, which will prove that they own the website and Google will hand over the access to them.
Now, it’s just about finding out all the other accounts that you have. And if unfortunately, your Gmail account is the one where you receive all the emails related to password change, all your other accounts become vulnerable too.
What should you do with expired domains?
Generally, most security experts agree that you should never allow your domains to expire. It’s more secure to keep renewing them even if they’re not in use.
Domain names don’t cost too much to renew. In fact, it’s a small price to pay to ensure that problems do not crop up at all.
However, if you have to let your domain expire for some reason, there are two things that you need to protect: your customers and yourself.
When it comes to securing your customers, inform them of the changes well in advance. Tell them that it’s best to blacklist your old email ID so future owners can’t send any malicious content from an email ID that they used to trust.
If you’re moving your website to another domain, provide them with your new email address before asking them to block the old one.
How can you keep all your domains current and safe?
You can follow the recommendations below to keep your domains safe and in your possession:
1. Keep your registration information up to date
Always update your domain registration accounts when your phone number, email address, or any other contact information changes. If you changed your credit card or bank details, ensure that you change your domain payment information to keep your auto-renewals from failing.
2. Lock your domains
It’s necessary to unlock your domains when transferring them to a new host. Otherwise, make sure to lock them up again to prevent scammers from switching them to another host without your consent.
BigRock offers domain theft protection as a free service with every domain. You can easily lock your domain name to avoid accidental transfers without your permission.
3. Opt for long-term domain registrations
While it seems intimidating to go for a long-term domain plan, this assures that you keep your domain secure in your hold for as long as possible. You can register for up to 10 years and be worry free for a decade.
It’s also more cost-effective on your end as most registrars offer discounts on maximum plans. BigRock offers reasonably priced domain names with popular TLDs and seasonal discounts on multi-year registrations.
4. Keep your registration information private
When you register for a domain, it’s policy to publicise your name, address, and contact information in the WHOIS public database. With your personal information on display, you’ll be at risk of scams and spam, threatening your data security online.
Domain privacy protection costs a few bucks a year, and it’s worth it. It encrypts your personal details in the public eye while maintaining compliance with ICANN policies.
Domain name expirations can be a business-crippling and demoralizing issue in no time. It becomes worse if a competitor manages to snatch your domain name. All the effort and time spent on building that brand and linking it to the domain might be all for naught.
Therefore, it’s best to prevent such an issue from happening by implementing the measures mentioned in the previous section. You can even set up personal expiration alerts or regularly check your spam and email folders for renewal notices.
Remain proactive when any of your domain names are possibly expiring. With the right infrastructure in place, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.
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