Domain hijacking receives little attention, although it is a serious concern.
Also, it is aggravating since it is pretty easy for hijackers to hack a domain. And once they have access, recovering it will cost a lot. Domain hijackers exploit security flaws in your domain registrar or your security measures.
Cybercriminals gain control of your domain by assuring your domain registrar that they are you. Then, they move your domain to their account.
Domain hijackers take control of domains for various illegal motives. But the most common is to seize control of your site and then resell the registration to you.
Let’s dig into the various shades of domain hijacking and how to prevent it.
What Is Domain Hijacking?
Domain name hijacking occurs when hijackers take absolute control of their target’s DNS (Domain Name System, or web address) data without the rightful owner’s knowledge. Then, the hijackers will use the domain names for anything they want. They could limit the owner’s access or make unlawful alterations to their selfish benefit.
What Is Reverse Domain Hijacking?
Reverse domain name hijacking (RDNH) or reverse cybersquatting differs from domain hijacking.
RDNH occurs when a trademark owner seeks to protect their domain name by filing false cybersquatting accusations against the rightful owner of a domain. The sole essence is to frighten them into transferring ownership to them, rather than negotiating payment to acquire the domain from the owner.
Usually, the trademark owner exploits the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) procedures to compel a domain owner to give up their rights to a domain name.
This strategy is an outright abuse of the policy, which specifies that the complainant must show that they are operating in good faith. That is, they are required to have valid claims and that they are not misusing the process to harass a domain proprietor.
How Can A Domain Be Hijacked?
Domain hijackers know your site’s domain name system is a distinct, trustworthy protocol. Also, they understand many businesses do not check their domains for malicious activity.
As a result, they may launch various cyberattacks on the firm’s Domain Name System and get away with it.
Domain Name System converts human-readable URLs into machine-readable Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Thus, it allows internet users to link search queries to relevant websites. Any device that is connected to the web has a numerical IP address.
It is critical to synchronize domain names with the proper IP addresses. So, it allows website users and administrators to pick unique domain names while devices may use machine-friendly IP addresses.
For instance, imagine you type www.office1.com into your search engine. In such a scenario, your device will submit a request to the proper DNS resolver, a machine that looks for IP addresses related to your search query.
The DNS resolver is set up to interface with high-level domain servers, locate matches, and return them to your device.
To launch an attack, the domain hijackers resolve the DNS improperly and direct users to fraudulent websites. They accomplish this by hijacking routers, compromising the Domain Name Server connection, or putting malware on website visitors’ devices.
Why Do DNSs Get Hacked?
A DNS server can be hijacked for various reasons. The domain hijackers may use it for pharming. This entails the display of advertisements to users to make cash. Also, it is used for phishing, which is the redirection of users to a bogus version of your website to steal data or login credentials.
So when the domain name hijacking is successful, the site will lead customers to a phony website. Hence, the permitted IP address will translate into the illegal IP address of the domain hijackers’ malicious DNS.
How to Guard Against Domain Hijackers
Select A Good Domain Registrar
There are several domain registrars available. All registrars provide the same fundamental service – the ability to register domain names. Some are less expensive than others, but price should not be your only factor.
When selecting a domain name registrar for sign-ups or domain transfers, consider the advanced and additional features they provide.
In addition, select a domain name registrar that provides technical support. Today, having online support agents available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is essential.
If you have an issue, they’ll be the first people you contact, so make sure they’re always available—not only by email but also by phone and through the ticket system. If you wish to guard against domain hijacking, you must hasten up.
Turn On Domain Locking
Domain locking is one of the standard security measures provided by all domain name registrars. This is one of the oldest and most used techniques for avoiding domain name hijacking.
Domain locking prevents unlawful domain name transfers to another registrar. Most times, well-known registrars have it enabled by default.
In addition, you may ask your registrar to put a transfer lock on your domain name. However, each registrant implements a different transfer lock policy. Some need two-factor authentication, while others merely require the registrant’s authorization.
Determine whether transfer lock is a service that’s suitable for you by asking your registrar about their transfer lock guidelines.
Set Up Two-Factor Verification
Ensure your online accounts have two-factor authentication enabled. Two-factor authentication comprises your domain name registration, which houses all your domain names.
If your login and passwords are hacked, the second verification stage can save you from losing grip on your domains.
Enable WHOIS Protection
Enabling WHOIS protection can significantly minimize the amount of sensitive information you disclose to the Net. Such sensitive information includes your details like city, state, and country of residence, phone number, contact information, and email address.
As you can see, your domain’s WHOIS information may expose various details about you. And they can be exploited to conduct social engineering attacks. Therefore, activating these security measures will limit the quantity of sensitive OSINT data from your firm.
Furthermore, domain hijackers can use these methods to get your account and password.
Renew The Domain Details On Time
One vital domain security check is to maintain your domain contact details current and up to date.
There are several reports of domain names being hijacked due to outdated contact information, expired domain-based email addresses, which hackers can readily exploit. In the event of an emergency, your contact, operational and technical information must always be up to date.
Thus, if your domain registrar notices a breach in your account, he will inform you as quickly as possible.
Make use of a strong password
A strong password will help you against brute force attacks and unwanted access to your account. This makes unwanted access to your computers, networks, and other technology difficult because they are harder to decipher than simple ones.
That said, consider the following while creating a new password:
It must have at least eight characters.
Use a mix of capital letters and lowercase characters, numerals, and symbols.
Observe Suspicious Emails
Daily, fraudulent assaults occur. It is risky business, and it might come in the guise of a simple inbound email from your domain registrar or even the ICANN.
Fraud and phishing emails are frequently sent by faking a trustworthy sender’s email address. Hijackers use a domain name identical to the one registered with your registrar firm.
For instance, if your firm is Namecheap, you will receive an email from a domain name such as “namecheapsupport.com” or “namecheapmail.com”.
If you receive a suspicious message telling you to click a link or provide your login or password, don’t comply. Instead, contact your domain registrar through the official website.
Then, share the email you received to their technical support so they can assess whether it’s genuine or a phishing attack. You may even receive fraudulent emails purporting to be from ICANN. In such a case, forward your email to [email protected], so they can verify it.
Always Change Your Password
Every security company advises businesses to update their websites’ passwords every 72 to 90 days.
It is critical to use a strong password each time you update it. Remember that if you want to replace an old password with a weaker one, do not alter it. Create difficult-to-guess passwords and update them frequently to safeguard your credentials better.
Don’t Tell Strangers Your Login Information
Preserve your domain registrar login information at all times. This includes not disclosing login information with anyone who you can’t trust. Specific site designers, developers, and other IT services may need your domain register login information to change some DNS configurations.
However, you can make these changes without providing them access, updating DNS records, or establishing a new Name Server for your domain names. It’s not rocket science!
Ask your domain registrar for help if you don’t know how, but avoid revealing your login information to strangers
However, if you cannot make the changes yourself and believe it is essential to grant access to your registrar account, your best choice is to create a sub-account with restricted rights. This will ensure that others do nothing other than what is required.
Avoid Using One Company For Domain Name Registration And Web Hosting
Many domain registrars also provide web hosting services such as shared hosting or dedicated servers. They aim to keep your business in their organization so that they may offer you complementary items.
If you want to put all your eggs in one basket, this might be enticing.
But what happens if an intruder gets access to your client area?
They will not only have access to your domain names, but also access your web hosting space and files. What’s more? He will cause much more harm to your organization. Hence, don’t take chances with your safety.
Maintain separate accounts for your domain name registration and hosting.
Install Anti-Malware Protection
DNS hijackers attempt to steal users’ login details. Antivirus software safeguards your computer from viruses that might corrupt your apps. This malware, like the flu virus, aims to transmit from one computer to another, collecting passwords, tracking keystrokes, and damaging information.
Install antivirus software on your device to identify any harmful attempts to disclose your passwords by cybercriminals.
Domain hijacking is a severe internet security issue that may cause serious financial and reputational effects for your company. By following the preventive measures outlined in this article, your domain name system will be safe from hijackers.