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At the beginning of October, Paco Manufacturing faced a crisis which put us into a tailspin.  Our website had been pirated or at least it appeared that way.  Actually, due to changes in staff  earlier this year combined with company-wide changes in email addresses a couple of years ago, the registration renewal for the Domain Namefell into a void.  The consequences were debilitating.  Company email addresses were compromised and the website was transformed into a porn site!  And it was done legally!  It’s called harvesting and sad to say, it is a common practice.  Apparently these “domainers”, using sophisticated software, grab expiring domain names within seconds after the names enter the “auction” state. This occurs 90 days from expiration date.

And so it happened with Paco Manufacturing’s site.  This unfortunate event  caused the disappearance of the company’s website, the loss of the third-party email server (handled by the hosting company),  and all links (social and business related) tied to company related web pages.  Fortunately, the other domain names Paco Manufacturing held the registration to were parked and had no activity, so they were not of interest to these “domainers.”

For the past two weeks, Paco Manufacturing has been busy re-establishing email addresses and redirecting connections via the old addresses.  Concurrently,  the company website is now back online under the new domain name, www.   However, old links and search results still have to be addressed and corrected.  Unfortunately, some of the company’s internet history will be lost.  It has been a costly mistake in terms of soft dollars spent.

Lessons are learned, and should be shared with other small companies.

Three Simple Rules to Follow

RULE #1:  Always register a domain in your own name or Company’s name
  • Problem – Too many times what gets listed here are the personal name of an employee; an outside web designer, IT consultant or programmer; your web hosting company; or your domain registrar.
  • Action – Go into your registration and correct the information.  You may not be able to edit the Registrar name, but you can edit all the other information: address, email.  There are actually (4) contacts, so make sure you change the other three.  Consult your hosting company for additional help regarding these changes.
RULE #2:  Always use an email address that is inside your direct control
  • Problem – You do not want to use an email that is outside your control – not your school, your ISP, or even Gmail. The reason is that you never know what is going to happen to anybody else’s domain name over the long haul.
  • Action – Make sure all key emails are coming to the one thing you can control – your registered domain name.  Also, since there are (4) contact emails, you can enter up to (4) individual email addresses as a backup for notifications.
RULE #3: Login Regularly
  • Problem – Domain Registrations are usually paid for 2-years or more, so it is easy to “forget” when renewals are coming due or updates to the registration are not made.  Businesses are dynamic.
  • Action – Delegate this task to someone who will login regularly to make sure the company’s account and domain name contacts are correct.  Also, always make note of the renewal date and Never, Ever, intentionally let a domain expire with the intention of re-registering it elsewhere.

There are other ways to protect your domain name, and you should delegate this responsibility to an employee in your company. Include researching additional steps to protect your domain name. Two good sources of additional information can be found atGoDaddy Support and also from EasyDNS, both domain name suppliers.  You may also want to contact your hosting provider for their input in this matter as well, but remember, the responsibility remains with you.

In a small company, where so many of us wear many hats, it is easy to overlook future events and rely on reminder notifications. However,  lack of attention to this subject can result in difficult consequences – once a domain name is lost, there is only one way to regain it.  This comes at a very hefty price tag.  Otherwise, information is lost and links are severely compromised.

Please, take the time to educate and arm yourselves…and learn from our mistake.

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