What is Your Domain Worth?
Let me ask you a simple question: what is your website worth to your organization? I’ll assume that your answer is: a great deal. So here’s my second question: what are you doing to protect it? And I am not talking about protecting it from usual defacement from hackers or infestation with viruses/malware. I am talking about having someone take control of your the domain name associated with your website, thus having complete control of all of the traffic going to your domain (including web, email, etc).
I asked myself that same question once I read about a $30,000 sting operation that Jordan Reid, a lifestyle blogger, had to go through in order to get her website back. She’s one of the few lucky ones who was actually successful in the retrieval of her domain. Her recruitment of the FBI into her issue was a key factor in her victory over a malicious hacker. The FBI responded quickly and gave her the support and manpower she needed to be victorious. However, many people are not so fortunate. For example, Michael Lee still has not gotten his domain name MLA.com back and has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. That isn’t even including cost of the loss of worth of the domain name itself (about $47,000).
The domain name is integral in keeping traffic coming to your website. If you lost your domain name, you’d lose your traffic and subsequently lose revenue. That’s just the cost of losing a simple domain name. Imagine if all of your content was taken and redistributed or reformulated. Imagine if someone turned your website into something horrible or offensive and your customers/potential customers came to the site. The list of potential damages to the company is endless.
What is domain theft?
Domain theft is when a hacker essentially transfers ownership of the website to themselves in order to sell it off. In the example of Jordan Reid’s blog, the hacker got into her HostMonster account and transferred ownership to his GoDaddy account in a perfectly valid manner through the system, thus making it impossible for a simple call to GoDaddy or HostMonster to be the solution to the problem.
Sites like GoDaddy have their hands tied when it comes to crises like this. Many times they are unable to help due to complicated ins and outs of policies and technicalities. This is why protection and prevention are key. This incident isn’t a quick email or phone call and your site is back in your possession. It requires lawsuits and FBI involvement in order to even have the hope of getting your domain back in your hands.
How can this impact a healthcare provider?
Of course, when it comes to hospitals and healthcare, it’s a little bit different than a blog or an interior designer’s website. For hospitals, having patients or their families unable to access the website to get necessary information or to schedule appointments or see test results can be very detrimental. Not only that, but as we recently discovered with a client, your website is far more connected to sensitive material than you think. There could be a potential to have PHI at risk and violated. If a hacker were to get a hold of your domain and subsequently your content, you could have thousands of records at stake.
How do I prevent it?
After I’ve probably scared you quite a bit, I’d like to reask the question I posed earlier:are you doing anything to protect your domain? If you are, are you doing enough? If you’re not, why aren’t you? Protecting your domain should be a top priority. Make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to prevent a detrimental issue from happening. Keep all of your passwords secure and never use the same password twice. Don’t share any user information via email and always check to make sure that the person asking is legitimate (for further phishing information and resources, please see our phishing resource page).
In the event that this ever does happen to you, (fingers crossed that it won’t) utilize the FBI. They have the resources and the capabilities to assist you and, in the case of Jordan Reid, could be the absolute difference maker in whether or not you’re victorious.