One of the first things we all do is business owners is ponder our business name and what our domain name will be.
As our business evolves, sometimes we upgrade our business name, and our website. However, before you abandon your old website there are a few things that you need to know.
When you set up your Web presence, you select a domain name, and it’s part of all your URLs (FYI: URL stands for uniform resource locator).
For example, you are an accountant who specialises in small businesses in Whangarei, so you pick the domain name beancounter.co.nz for your business. Your emails come from Chiefbeancounter@beancounter.co.nz. From there you start building web traffic for your thriving accountancy firm.
You may even think ahead and purchase some similar domain names such as beancounter.com, or some similar names to redirect traffic and avoid losing customers to misspellings or typos.
The domain name is the basis of your business and is the foundation from where you grow. As you build the business, you may expand to new offerings and provide additional services that are beyond the scope of what you started with. For example, maybe you now also offer business counsulting so you need a more generic and umbrella type of term.
Before you abandon your old domain name – WAIT!
Why domain names get abandoned:
- If you have multiple domains, that can be a lot of small renewals to track and pay. Along the way, a domain renewal can easily get overlooked. So, the domain name is abandoned.
- Domain names can also get abandoned as a result of a business rebranding or company restructuring.
- You may decide a domain is no longer worth continued renewals.
The security risk of abandoning a domain name:
After you stop paying for your domain name and after a certain grace period, anyone can buy that abandoned domain name.
Whilst on the face of it that doesn’t sound that bad, I mean you’ve moved on from just being a bean counter and you want to expand. You didn’t want that old domain anymore…right?
Heres the problem, you just don’t know who might snatch up your old online calling card. Bad actors buy up abandoned domain names and re-register them with catch-all emails.
What’s a catch-all email? Well, remember Cheifbeancounter@beancounter.co.nz? That was you. But maybe you also had distinct emails for accounts, sales, support, office, Mary and James. All of these were going through Beancounter.co.nz. If someone emails someone at the previous domain owner’s business, it goes instead to the new owner. Having seized control of your old site, they gain access to all incoming emails, and they could see information you don’t want them to see.
The bad actor could also access online services once used by email@example.com. All they would need to do is reset the password to hijack that account.
Security researchers have seen criminals claim abandoned domains to:
- access confidential email correspondence;
- access personal information of former clients and current or former employees;
- hijack personal user accounts (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) linked to old domain e-mail addresses.
What to do with domain names:
Especially if you use a domain name for email, don’t let the renewal expire. We didn’t even mention pirates who look for business websites that have lapsed so they can charge exorbitant ransoms to return that domain.
When you move to a new domain address, communicate the change with all your clients and vendors. Close any cloud-based user accounts registered with the old domain email address. Also, unsubscribe from email notifications that might share sensitive data.
What to do next:
Not sure about your domain name registrations, renewals, and what’s set to expire? We can help you with this. We will make sure you don’t abandon domain names, and ensure you close any associated accounts properly to protect your security. Contact our team here.