Public or Private Domain Registration?
Pick any popular domain name, search its information at WhoIs, and the amount of information that is returned can be quite hefty. The domain name’s owner or owners, their physical or mailing address, phone numbers, and even e-mail addresses are readily available for anyone to peruse.
On the surface, this may not seem to be a big deal. However, some do not know that this information can be used in criminal activities and the more information shown and publicly available, the easier it is for criminals to attack.
Why is it Public?
All domain registrations go through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and this entity requires that domain registrars make the owner’s contact information available. The reasons for this are legitimate – verification of ownership upon transferring, legal investigations of criminal activity, and even copyright or property right infringement.
Unfortunately, the other side of this coin is that this very same information can be used for illegal or nefarious purposes. Spammers will have access to the e-mail addresses, identity thieves will be able to use much of the personal information, and stalkers can use this information to harass and terrify victims. Additionally, many questionable services watch for domains nearing their expiration date and will send out fake renewal notices to entice domain transfers or fabricated invoices to solicit payments to search engines or other questionable web services.
What can be done to Protect Information?
A service offered by many domain registrars is called privacy protection. This service ensures that personal information is not publicly listed. In lieu of personal information, the registrar will show that the personal data has been placed under the domain registrar’s privacy protection service. Depending upon the registrar, this service may be offered free of charge or a small yearly fee may be charged.
Once this service has been put into place, private information will no longer be available to those who may use it for criminal activities or to hijack the domain. Spam will also be at a minimum as e-mail addresses will not be disclosed.
Are There Disadvantages?
There is a downside to making one’s domain registration information private. When it comes time to transfer to another domain registrar, the privacy protection will need to be removed. Often there are a few extra steps involved that may include privacy key information and e-mail confirmation. Additionally, many consumer advocates stress checking a domain registration for legitimacy – having the registration information private may reflect the business in question as not being legitimate. The counter to this issue is in having business contact information available on the website. This will enable concerned consumers a way of contacting the business owner.
Weighing the Options
The advantages of making one’s domain registration information private substantially outweigh the few disadvantages of privacy. Ensuring one is kept safe from spamming, hacking, identity theft, and possible stalking can be done with remarkably little effort and possibly at no cost. Check with your registrar today to see how you can protect your information.
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