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How to keep your domain names secure

By Will Stevens - November 18, 2021

Picture the scene: You notice your web traffic has fallen away to zero, so you start your investigation by visiting your site only to find it has been replaced by an error message or, worse, a different site completely.

What’s happened? Well, it could be that your domain name has expired, or someone could have hacked into your account and transferred your domain away from you without your knowledge.

Whatever’s gone wrong, you’ll have to spend time and effort putting it right. And your site will be offline until you’ve done so.

In this guide we’ll look at how you can keep your domains secure, so you won’t ever have to face such a scenario.

Steps to secure your domain names

  1. Manage your domains in one place
  2. Keep your contact details up to date
  3. Turn on auto renewals
  4. Add multiple payment methods to your account
  5. Use domain protection tools
  6. Use strong passwords
  7. Use antivirus programmes
  8. Keep an eye out for phishing emails

1 Manage your domains in one place

Having your domains scattered across several difference registrars can make it hard to keep track of what needs renewing and when.

Transferring all your domains to one registrar will let you monitor all your domains from a single place, so you won’t have to log into multiple providers to get the full picture. Plus, there’s no chance of you forgetting where an important domain is registered.

You can transfer domains to 123 Reg here.

2 Keep your contact details up to date

If the domain registrar you use doesn’t have your contact details, it can’t get in touch with you to highlight any issues with your domains.

Your registrar will contact you when a domain is up for renewal, and if it spots any unusual activity on your account.

If those messages go to outdated contact details, you won’t be able to act on them.

ICANN, the body that regulates domain name registrars, also requires that contact details are verified for some domain registrations. (This guide explains how to complete the ICANN verification process for domains registered with 123 Reg.)

In short, keeping your contact details up to date can avoid future problems.

3 Turn on autorenewals

It may feel like you’re never going to forget to renew that crucial domain name, but it happens more often than you think. In 2021, Google Argentina forgot to renew its domain. If it can happen to Google, it can happen to anyone.

Turning on autorenewals helps reduce the risk that you’ll forget to renew your domain, but it’s not foolproof. You’ll need to make sure you have a valid payment method attached to your account, or the autorenewal won’t happen and you’ll have to log in and do things manually.

4 Add multiple payment methods to your account

Adding a second payment method to your account can help you reduce the risk of an autorenewal failing. For example, linking a PayPal account to your domain account could help as you may be more likely to keep card details up to date in PayPal.

5 Use any domain protection tools your registrar offers

The most secure domain registrars will offer a range of tools to help keep your domains safe.

For example, at 123 Reg you can lock your domain to prevent transfers to another registrar and nameserver changes.

123 Reg also offers two levels of Domain Ownership Protection that can be added to your cart when you buy your domain. For £5.99 a year you can enjoy Full Domain Protection, which prevents hackers from stealing your domain or making any other unsanctioned changes and ensures you approve all vital changes to your domain – such as deletion or transfer – through two-factor authentication. For £14.99 a year, meanwhile, you can have Ultimate Domain Protection, which features everything you get with the Full Domain Protection service, but also lets you hold on to your domain name for an extra 90 days in the event that your credit card or billing method expires.

6 Use strong passwords

All the extra protection in the world won’t keep your domain safe if your passwords can be easily guessed.

Use a strong, unique password for every account you have, and change your passwords regularly.

You may want to consider using a password manager to help you do this.

7 Use antivirus programmes

One of the many pieces of malware an antivirus programme will protect you from is keyloggers. Keyloggers can detect what you type into your device and then send those details back to the hacker responsible.

That means they can steal your passwords and, potentially, your domains. Use good antivirus software across all your devices.

8 Keep an eye out for phishing emails

Getting phished is another way you could unintentionally put your domains at risk. If you click on a link in a phishing email and enter account information on a fake site, your login details will be stolen.

Phishing emails are increasingly harder to spot, so it’s often a good idea to avoid clicking on links in any unexpected email and instead visit the website in question directly.

That way, you can check if you need to take any action on your account without clicking what may be an unsafe link.

You can learn more about avoiding phishing emails in this guide.

Summing up

Keeping your domains secure starts with basic online safety steps like strong passwords and staying vigilant, but there are extra steps you can take.

If you’re worry about losing a particular domain, make sure you turn on autorenewal and use any protection tools your registrar offers. Doing so should help make sure your domain is as secure as possible.

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