A domain name can be one of a company's most valuable assets. So, whether you've been using your domain name for years or have just acquired it, you should obviously be sure to protect it -- to ensure that you don't lose it due to oversight, deception or illegal activity.
Here are eight simple things every domain name owner should do to protect itself online:
1. Be sure your domain name is registered to the property entity. Typically, a domain name containing a company's trademark should be registered to the same company that owns the trademark (or, at least a company licensed to use the trademark). Allowing an individual to register a company domain name in his or her own name is asking for trouble when the individual stops working at the company, becomes involved in a dispute with the company, etc.
2. Use a reputable registrar. Many large companies work with "corporate registrars" (such as MarkMonitor) that manage domain names excellently. But if you use a "retail registrar" (such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions), be sure to choose one that is well-known, has been in business a long time, is responsive to customers and, perhaps, located in your country. Saving a few dollars on a domain name registration is short-sighted if you need help later and can't get it -- or, if your registrar goes out of business.
3. Lock your domain name. It's very easy to "lock" a domain name -- a simple setting typically found on a registrar's domain name management page -- and doing so prevents a domain name from being transferred to another registrant or registrar until the domain name is unlocked.
4. Use a strong registrar password and protect it diligently. This should be treated with as much care as a password for an online bank account or any other highly sensitive website. Failing to do so could allow someone else to access your domain names -- which they could unlock and transfer behind your back.
5. Go ahead and register (or renew) your domain name for the longest period possible. Many domain names can be registered for up to 10 years, and doing so now makes it less likely that your domain name will lapse simply because you forgot to renew it.
6. While you're at, choose your registrar's "auto renew" option so your domain name registration should renew before it expires. Just be sure you always keep a current payment method (or two!), such as a credit card, on file; and update your payment information when your credit card expires.
7. Be smart about the contact information you provide in your registration, and keep it current. For example, consider using different contacts for the "registrant," "admin" and "tech" contacts, so your registrar will have multiple ways to reach you. And don't use an e-mail address containing the domain name that is the subject of the registration -- if there's a problem with the domain name, then your registrar might not be able to contact you at that e-mail address.
8. Be aware of domain name scams. Unfortunately, unscrupulous registrars and other bad guys online often try to trick domain name registrants into paying unnecessary fees or to transfer their domain names unknowingly. When in doubt, delete or ignore suspicious e-mails about domain names and contact your registrar directly with any questions or concerns.
Following these eight steps will help to avoid many of the problems that can arise with domain name registrations, eliminating costly (and sometimes fatal) disruptions in business.