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How Thieves Can Swipe Your Domain Name

Posted by admin on March 18, 2013

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Adomain and a website are critical to most companies today. But more business owners lose these important assets to people they thought they could trust than to an outside hacker.

In one common scenario, a company hires a web designer, who offers to take care of the domain registration as part of the service of building and setting up the website and email. In another scenario, the company fires an employee. In either situation, the rogue web designer or the fired employee gains control of the domain name and access to the website and email.

Here are three ways to protect your key intellectual property: 

Register your domain and buy a hosting plan yourself, and do it in your own name: Most web designers are honest and reputable, and they aren't out to steal your IP. But if you were setting up a bank account for your business, you wouldn't put it in your accountant's name. The same should hold true for your domain name.

Ensure that the registrant name, administrative contact name and all contact information, including the email address, are yours. Decline your web designer's offer to "take care of all that [registering and transferring your domain, and arranging for hosting] for you." It's important that everything that reflects ownership of your IP assets be in your name and no one else's. The only way to ensure this is to carry out these steps yourself.

Never give your account user name or password to anyone: Provide only the hosting control panel and FTP (File Transfer Protocol—what you use to transfer files for your hosting) credentials to your web designer. That's all he or she will need. A web designer doesn't need access to your domain or the account used to pay for or to renew these services. 

Use the technical contact: Another option is to designate your web designer as the technical contact within your domain registration. This will give the designer the authority to request that technical changes be made to the domain, such as changing where the domain points to. Such a request can be made through the support department of your registrar. Make sure it's the technical contact only—notthe account or administrative contacts—you put in the web designer's name.

If you're not sure who is listed as the owner of your domain, you can find out for free by searching on

If you discover that your domain isn't listed in your name, change it now. And don't forget to update the password for your account after you'd made the changes to ensure that no one else has access to it.

This column is reposted with the permission of Business in Vancouver, which posted it originally

Cybele Negris is president and co-founder of Vancouver-based Inc., Canada's original .ca registrar and one of the country's leading providers of web hosting and other internet solutions. She has been on the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 ranking of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs for the past nine years.

More columns by Cybele Negris