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Beware of cyber-criminals targeting domain names

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A recent report in the Wall Street Journal highlighted the increasing problem of domain-name thefts – where thieves hijack domains and transfer them to places like China, India, Russia and the Bahamas.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees how domains are allocated, has received more than 140 complaints about domain-name thefts over the past 20 months.

David Weslow, an Internet attorney in Washington, told the WSJ that thieves might hold the domain name for ransom, resell it, or use it to get access to personal or company data.

Thieves may ‘also be interested in other means for monetizing the stolen domain name, such as the display of pay-per-click advertisements, display of a website that downloads malware, or use of the domain name to send legitimate-looking emails containing spam, viruses and/or phishing correspondence,’ he added.

The WSJ highlights ‘small firms with memorable domain names’ and entrepreneurs ‘who snap up particular domain names with plans to resell them’ as being particularly vulnerable.

Webmasters and small business owners should be alert to the risk of phishing emails, which are often used by domain-thieves to install keylogging software on a recipient’s computer, or to phish for passwords. Do not reply to, or click on any links, in any domain related e-mail correspondence you do not recognize.

The costs of domain-theft can be considerable. The WSJ reports on the case of ShadesDaddy.com, a victim of domain theft. The site was offline for 11 days and lost $50,000 in revenue. Michael Lee, Michael Lee, the owner of the Michael Lee + Associates advertising agency, spent $15,000 and 19 months to regain control of MLA.com after it was hijacked and shifted to a registrar in the Bahamas.

Webmasters and business owners beware!

Read the full article over on the Wall Street Journal.

Main image: FHKE