A website domain name is one of the most valuable assets of a business that only grows in value with time. The important point that people must always remember that they only register a domain name for a specific period and do not technically own one. People try to look for agencies in their location like Canadian clients may search for a domain name registration in Vancouver which they can easily approach for help. Growing cases of domain name hijacking especially popular ones have made it essential for website owners to know about domain name recovery and some useful advice collected from prestigious domain name registration firms is being presented here.
Before we discuss the steps needed to regain a hijacked domain name, let’s take a look at how people with malicious intent manage to steal them.
How Is A Domain Name Hijacked?
The primary cause of most domain hijackings is lax security and carelessness on the part of the owner. A hacker needs to know the domain registrar’s name and the and the administrative email address used by the domain being targeted by him/her. All this information can be very easily obtained by carrying out a WHOIS search using any of the numerous tools available for the purpose. Once the hacker gets this data all that remains to be done is hacking the email account and then accessing the domain name’s control panel. The hacker gets control of the domain from hereon and makes changes to the account to lock the original and rightful owner out of it.
The best way to prevent such a scenario from taking place is to protect the administrative email account and being careful in opening emails from unknown addresses. People must also refrain from using public or unsecured systems for accessing their email accounts as these systems can be easily manipulated by hackers to get valuable data. Additionally, people can opt for private domain name registration which will hide all details like email, name address, phone number etc. from anyone conducting a WHOIS search on the domain. We will now discuss what should an owner do in the unfortunate event his/her domain name is hijacked.
1. Contact Your Registrar Immediately
As soon as you get to know that your domain name has been hijacked, you must immediately get in touch with the domain registrar i.e the company with which the domain name was registered. Most people use the same service for domain name registration as well as website hosting and they can approach its customer helpline to get assistance on the matter. Individuals who do not know who their registrar is can conduct a WHOIS search by using an online tool available for the purpose. They have to simply enter their website URL and all information including the domain registrar’s name will be visible to them. Provide them with the documentation of your registration and ask them to start proceedings and help you regain control of the domain.
2. Always Maintain Relevant Documents
Hackers usually transfer a hijacked domain to another registrar which complicates things further and in order to ascertain the rightful owner, agencies depend upon original documentation. Domain owners must maintain all relevant documents related to the registration including original papers mentioning them as the holder of the domain, billing records including email receipts of the payments made for securing and renewing the registration and weblogs or archives which show that the content published on the website is associated with the stolen domain name. They must also keep a record of all communication with registrars regarding the domain like renewal notices and annual WHOIS reporting notices. Any documents issued by government authorities like tax notices or return filings related to the business represented by the domain will also be helpful in establishing rightful ownership. For instance, a Canadian individual who has got domain name registration in Vancouver for his/her business website must keep all the bills and tax documents issued by Canadian authorities which will come handy during such cases.
3. Approach ICANN For Dispute Resolution
The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Number (ICANN) is the agency responsible for framing guidelines and regulations for allocation and registration of domain names. ICANN also lays down the standard procedure that registrars must follow in case of domain hijacking. As mentioned earlier, hackers transfer a stolen name to a different registrar and ICANN has an Inter-registrar Transfer Policy which must be initiated by your registrar to start the recovery process of the stolen name, provided the registrar is accredited with the agency. In case your registrar does not provide enough assistance in the matter, you can approach the governing body and report the issue through the registrar problem report form which can be found on the agency’s website.
4. Take Legal Help
The registrar company does not possess the legal authority to transfer the domain name back to the rightful owner and it can only follow the procedures laid down by ICANN for such cases. It will be very difficult for you to regain the domain by only depending upon the registrar and it will be sensible to approach a lawyer for help. A legal advisor will approach a court of law apprising it of your situation and use the documentation to establish your identity as the original and rightful holder of the domain to win a court order that will put pressure on the hijacking entity to return the control of the domain back to you.
People look for agencies in their location like Canadian entrepreneurs using a domain name registration firm in Vancouver in order to register a domain for their business website can be a good practice as it will help them in getting in touch with the registration firm quickly during issues like domain hijacking.