Domain hijacking attacks can have severe consequences, as the attacker can reveal sensitive data, potentially causing financial and reputational damage to the organization. Therefore, you must understand what domain hijacking is and how to prevent it.
In this article, I am going to discuss everything related to domain hijacking and how you can protect yourself from it. Hence, keep reading to gain insight.
Understanding Domain Hijacking
What is Domain Hijacking? Domain hijacking is a form of cyberattack where one party or hackers change the registration of a domain name without the consent of the original domain registrant. In simple terms, domain hijacking, also known as domain theft, means when a hacker takes control of the domain and performs illegal modifications or leaks sensitive data for their own benefit.
Domain Hijacking Attack Consequences
So, the question is, what is the impact of a domain hijacking attack? Domain hijacking is the process that allows malicious hackers to steal traffic from high-traffic websites by social engineering and phishing techniques. It is without a doubt that domain hijacking is a severe cybersecurity threat that can lead to chronic consequences, which are as follows:
Reputation is very important for any organization, and once destroyed, it can lead to a loss of trust from visitors or customers. Hijackers, once they take control of the domain, can remove the original content and replace it with malicious materials. They may also spread malware and carry out phishing attacks.
These actions redirect the website traffic to other websites, which in turn causes damage to the brand’s reputation. Moreover, the hackers might also attempt to resell the domain to the original owner at a skyrocketing price. Therefore, it is very important for every organization to strengthen their security system.
Another main damage that domain hijacking can cause to a company is the loss of revenue. Multiple organizations nowadays rely heavily on websites for business, so when they lose control of their domain at the hands of hackers, it can cause severe financial losses. Hence, domain hijacking is a serious threat to every internet organization.
Furthermore, hackers, after taking over the domain, switch the authentic website with a fake one in an attempt to gather sensitive data from the people. The data they steal can include your phone number, email address, social media account, or IP address for inappropriate uses. Hence, you should avoid sharing your personal information with any random websites.
How Domain Hijacking Works?
Domain hijacking happens because of the unauthorized or illegal control of the domain registrar’s security. There are multiple ways through which the hijackers gain access to the domain. Some of them are as follows:
The most popular and successful techniques are definitely social engineering and phishing. During the phone call, hackers might imitate the legitimate company or domain registrar to get important information out of you, including login credentials for the original domain registrar. Once the hackers have the necessary information, they can transfer the domain registrations to other providers in distant countries.
Moreover, hackers might use tricks to spread malware in your device to obtain login details for the domain management panel. They use malware, such as Trojans or Keyloggers. Additionally, if the owner chooses a weak password, hackers can successfully guess the owner’s domain control panel password.
Therefore, you should think very carefully when creating a password. There is also another probability of hackers hijacking your domain when the domain is close to the due date and will expire in a few days. Hence, always renew your domain within the appropriate time.
Why is Domain Hijacking Important?
In current times, where the internet is taking the lead, websites are important assets for any organization. Through the websites, they run their businesses, which are important sources of revenue for them. So, hackers mostly hijack the company’s domain to stop their profits and damage the organization’s reputation.
This hijacking activity not only affects the owner but also business partners, customers, and more. Hence, the organizations must do everything they can to prevent the domain hijacking.
Is Domain Hijacking Illegal?
Yes, domain hijacking is definitely illegal, as it involves unauthorized access to someone’s domain. However, unfortunately, there are no particular national or international laws that make the act of hijacking domain names illegal. There are ample reasons for this, one being that it can be difficult to take action against the hacker when they transfer the domain to a registrar in a foreign country.
Additionally, there are multiple countries that consider phishing a criminal offense. Maybe, in the future, there might be laws to deal with domain hijacking.
Defending Against Domain Hijacking Attacks
I have already told you what domain hijacking is and its impact, now, it is time to discuss how you can prevent or defend yourself against it. You can follow multiple ways to prevent the hijacking from taking place. Let me list them:
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to reduce the risk of hijacking, impose a 60-day waiting period after any interference or changes to the registration details. This time period is specifically designed to give the domain’s owner enough time to identify any issues or unauthorized changes and report them within these 60 days. These measures are taken to prevent domain hijacking.
Multiple TLD registries use the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EEP) to further improve their security. EPP actually produces an authorization code that is unique to every domain registrant and protects them from any illegal access or transfer.
Work With a Reputable Company
A company’s reputation matters a lot because it reflects the trust of many people in them. So, whenever registering your domain, you must select a trustworthy and reputable company that offers security measures. Always go for the accredited registrar instead of unofficial ones.
Turn on Extra Protection
To avoid hackers from transferring your domain, turn on the extra protection, which includes enabling the domain registry lock and WHOIS protection, etc. Moreover, you can also enable two-factor authentication, which offers protective layers to help you against unauthorized access.
Create Strong Passwords
Whenever creating a password, think of something unique and strong that the hackers will not be able to guess. Additionally, always keep your contact details up-to-date and never give your registration credentials to other people. Taking care of these small things can make a big impact, so always take precautions to avoid getting hijacked.
Another you must be cautious about is emails requesting your registration credentials. Many hackers pretend to be from a reliable source or from a domain name similar to the original registrar company to get login details out of you.
How To Recover a Hijacked Domain?
After your domain has been hijacked, the first action you must take is to contact the registrar and inform them about the hijacking. You must take immediate action to stop the transferring process, even seconds matter.
The next step is to notify the media, your message must reach your website domain users to avoid any further damage and to reassure the customers about the security of the domain. If your domain is linked to any copyright or trademark you own, then use the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDNRP) to legally claim ownership of your domain. Lastly, if nothing works, pursue legal action against the hijackers.
In conclusion, domain hijacking refers to the action of taking control over the domain without the permission of the original owner. It is a severe threat to multiple organizations; hence, it is necessary to take certain precautions against it to avoid the risk of hijacking. You can take the preventive measures discussed in this article to prevent domain hijacking