Cyber security is no longer the job of just the IT department; it’s everyone’s job to be educated on preventive security measures. In a report by ICANN, an organization that defines protocol and policies for domain names and numbers functions on the Internet, they said:
Domain names are yet another target for cyber criminals to capture you and your customer’s personal and private information through phishing, spam or malware tactics.
While registering a new domain name is generally safe, there still needs to be some due diligence on your part to add more layers of protection. For those that already have a domain name, or are looking to transfer/buy a used one, take note of these security measures to protect your brand and ranking.
History, Penalties and Spam, Oh My!
Any domain name you wish to purchase (new, or used), make sure to check out the domain history and its previous owner by using the WHOIS function at a reputable registrar.
If the domain has been red flagged for spam, given a penalty, or used for something unrelated to your business, you’re going to have an uphill battle with gaining traction and rankings online right from the beginning.
David Mercer, founder of SME PALS advises to “research the domain history [prior to purchase] to see what the domain was used for; reputable registrar sites will have this service available.”
You may have your heart set on a domain name, but a word of caution from Mercer: if there is a penalty attached to the domain name, it might be a challenge for Google to remove it regardless of who owns it next.
Does Google Like it?
Keeping your SEO at a top-notch level is key for your rankings on Google and other search engines. Mercer suggests to dig a little deeper and find out if the domain name has been indexed previously by Google.
Hyper-Focused on Security
When you’re looking to purchase a domain name, going with a reputable registrar with experience that is hyper-focused on security protocol can add another layer of protection to your domain. They can also offer additional services, such as SSL certificates and privacy protection, to protect against spammers.
There are different types of SSL certificates depending on how many domains you want to secure and the cost ranges from $40 to $100. These SSL certificates encrypt the data transferred through the HTTP and make it safer for your customers to use.
Google has also encouraged site owners to use HTTPs over HTTP which is a secure version of HTTP.
Something New vs. Something Old
When you decide to purchase a domain name from a previous owner, it could become terribly expensive. Also, you need to know who you’re dealing with and understand protocols to protect your investment. Big picture, purchasing a used domain name is riskier than registering a new premium TLD domain name for your brand. But if you’re set on a particular name, Salminen emphasizes again to work with a reputable registrar for any transfer.
What About Your WHOIS?
Once you do purchase a domain name, Salminen strongly encourages owners to keep their contact information up-to-date.
ICANN, suggests for domain name owners to update their WHOIS information each year or as it changes, and consider putting their name as the WHOIS contact even for proxy or privacy service in case of any dispute.
Using these practices when purchasing a domain name can help prevent against potential threats and keep your brand safe.