Your business's names, trademarks, and other identifying information are just as important as your physical assets. Some say they're even more important. After all, it is your domain name and social media accounts that bring customers to you online—and that's where most people will start their search for you.
It is important that you protect these platforms from being hijacked by others who might try to use it for their own gain. Here's what you need to know about protecting your online real estate.
What is Domain Piracy?
Domain piracy is a form of cybercrime in which a person—commonly referred to a cybersquatter—registers someone else's business name as a web domain with malicious intent. They can then use it to create and host their own site, or sell the name for profit.
These people often target companies with large customer bases because they are easier to profit off of than smaller ones, and social media is often the easiest entry point. If you’re using third-party platforms like Facebook and Instagram as an extension of your business, you need to make sure that someone doesn't take control of them without your knowledge. Common tactics used by pirates include:
Cybersquatting – This is when someone else registers your brand name as a domain and tries to sell it back to you for a hefty fee.
Phishing – This occurs when someone poses as an authorized representative of your company and asks customers for sensitive information like credit card numbers or login details under false pretenses.
Social Media Hacking – This happens when someone gains control of your social media accounts and uses them to impersonate you, share malicious links, or drive traffic to their own website.
These activities can all have a negative impact on your business. They can undermine customer trust, damage your reputation, and result in financial losses. If you're concerned about any of these happening to you, it's important to take steps to put preventative measures in place as early as possible. Here are a few of our best tips for keeping your online properties safe:
How to Protect Your Domain
Check Out the Admin Details
When registering a domain name, provide your own details as the registrant and don't include any other person in the registration. As the business owner, you should be able to oversee all steps of the domain registration process, especially if you’ve tasked someone else with buying the domain name. Ensuring that you are the sole domain owner will save you from worrying if a third-party might sell the domain right from under you.
Contact Your Registrar Privately
Communicate with the domain name registrar using an email address that no one else has access to. This way, you can be certain that no one else will be able to go over your head and make big decisions regarding your domain without your knowledge or consent.
Prevent Domain Transfer
When you buy your domain, lock the domain ownership transfer. This way, your domain can't be sold or transferred without your explicit permission. This is a big step to prevent your domain from being hijacked.
Keep an Eye on the Expiration Dates
Many registrants buy their domain name for only a year and forget about its expiration date. While domain name providers usually send out reminder emails about one month before the domain expires, it is very easy to miss out on them. Mark the date in your calendar and renew your domain ahead of schedule to avoid any issues.
How to Protect Social Media Accounts
Use Strong Passwords
Passwords are the front line of your security, so make sure that they are strong and unique. You should never use the same password for multiple social networks, and it's also smart to change them regularly, at least once every three months.
Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security on top of your password by requiring something from you—like a code sent in real time via text message or an app on your phone—before you can log in. Enabling this makes it much harder for hackers to gain access to your accounts because they won't have all the information needed to log in successfully.
Use a Password Manager
A password manager is a piece of software that securely stores all your passwords in one place so you don't need to remember them all yourself. Many of these can also generate secure, unique passwords for each site you sign up for. You can try a password manager like LastPass or 1Password for personal or business use.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN allows you to connect to the internet via an encrypted tunnel that protects your data from being intercepted by third parties. This allows you to mask your IP address so that hackers can't find out where exactly you are or get access to your personal information when you use the internet. Popular options include ExpressVPN for its speed and security, and Surfshark for its affordable price point.
Last Step: Register Your Brand as a Trademark
After getting all the necessary protection for your domain and social media accounts, you can opt for stronger brand protection by registering your brand as a trademark.
Registered trademarks are a form of intellectual property that protects brand names, logos, slogans, and other identifying marks from being used by others without permission. They also provide legal recourse if someone tries to copy your brand or use it in an unauthorized way.
Protect Your Online Real Estate
In today's digital age, your domain and social media accounts are some of your brand's most valuable assets. The more prepared you are for cyber threats against your company—whether it be through cybersquatting or social media hijacks—the better off your business will be. And the more prepared you are for threats against your company, the less likely it is that those threats will affect your bottom line.
Don’t wait—secure your domain name today