Protect your domain names

August 19, 2017 (Sat). Two pieces of news I read recently prompted me to think that companies must carefully protect their domain names. The first one was actually a recruitment ad by American movie studio 20th Century Fox for a domain manager. The second one was about the domain name being stolen in China.

The position of domain manager is new to me, but its meaning is significant. 20th Century Fox is a large corporation. Why do they want to hire someone to manage domain names? Why not just have their IT department manage them? Why manager but not junior staff? To me, this means that domain names have become so important that they must be looked after by a dedicated executive.

On the other hand, number-number-number (NNN) .com names such as are very valuable as they can fetch over a million yuan in China. Naturally, they are the targets of thieves. Therefore, domain names must be carefully protected. So, what are the risks associated with domain names? Let me briefly mention three.

1. Domain names deleted

After you register a domain name, you must pay a renewal fee every year. If you fail to pay the fee, the domain name will be deleted. As a result, your website may disappear and email cannot be used. If the domain name is valuable, it may be auctioned by the domain registrar. Once your domain name is transferred to another owner, getting it back is not easy. For example, global firm Marketo in July this year forgot to renew its and found itself bombarded with user complaints about website and email failure. To prevent this problem, be sure to read the renewal reminders sent from your registrar and pay the renewal fee in time.

2. Domain names stolen

Some domain names -- especially short .com domain names -- are valuable and targets of thieves. For example, in 2014, owned by news portal Qian Zhan Wang (前瞻网) was stolen. It took three months to recover the domain name, resulting in losses of over 100 million yuan to the company. When registering a domain name, be sure to enter the real information, because it can be used to prove your ownership if the domain name is stolen. Also, a domain name is often stolen because the email used in its registration is stolen. Therefore, secure your email and password. If the domain registrar provides the two-step verification function, use it to enhance your protection.

3. Domain names hijacked

The internet is global. A domain name you own may happen to match the brand name of a company located in another country. Here's the problem: .com names are highly sought after. If you have a .com name not being used, some companies may try to grab it from you using a legal proceeding called UDRP. Such cases happen often. For example, in July this year, German software company SAP lost its domain name in a UDRP arbitration to an Indian company. To prevent this problem, one method is not to show any ad on your unused domain names. A better approach is to forward them to your corporate website.

Here, I have briefly covered some domain-related risks and suggestions. The hiring of a domain manager by 20th Century Fox indicates that management and protection of domain names have become very complex. If you have a lot of domain names, you need to consider hiring a dedicated executive to manage your domain names.

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