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22 May 2012

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Domain Hijacking and its Countermeasures


domain hijackingI think all of you may know Domain Hijacking and what is it? Domain hijacking same as domain theft is the act of changing the registration of a domain name without the permission of its original registrant. This can be financially devastating to the original domain name holder, who may have derived commercial income from a website hosted at the domain or conducted business through that domain's e-mail accounts. Additionally, the hijacker can use the domain name to facilitate illegal activity such as phishing, where a website is replaced by an identical website that records private information such as log-in passwords.

The Process of Domain Hijacking:

To hijack a domain name, it’s necessary to gain access to the domain control panel of the target domain. For this you will need the following ingredients below-

1. The domain registrar name for the target domain.

2. The administrative email address associated with the target domain.

These information can be obtained by accessing the WHOIS data of the target domain. To get access the WHOIS data, go to whois.domaintools.com, enter the target domain name and click on Lookup. Once the whois data is loaded, scroll down and you’ll see Whois Record. Under this you’ll get the “Administrative contact email address”.

To get the domain registrar name, look for something like this under the Whois Record. “Registration Service Provided By: XYZ Company”. Here XYZ Company is the domain registrar. In case if you don’t find this, then scroll up and you’ll see ICANN Registrar under the “Registry Data”. In this case, the ICANN registrar is the actual domain registrar.

The administrative email address associated with the domain is the backdoor to hijack the domain name. It is the key to unlock the domain control panel. So to take full control of the domain, the hacker will hack the administrative email associated with it.

Once the hacker take full control of this email account, he will visit the domain registrar’s website and click on forgot password in the login page. There he will be asked to enter either the domain name or the administrative email address to initiate the password reset process. Once this is done all the details to reset the password will be sent to the administrative email address. Since the hacker has the access to this email account he can easily reset the password of domain control panel. After resetting the password, he logs into the control panel with the new password and from there he can hijack the domain within minutes.

Prevention and Protections:

1. ICANN imposes a 60-day waiting period between a change in registration information and a transfer to another registrar; this is intended to make domain hijacking more difficult, since a transferred domain is much more difficult to reclaim, and it is more likely that the original registrant will discover the change in that period and alert the registrar. Extensible Provisioning Protocol is used for many TLD registries, and uses an authorization code issued exclusively to the domain registrant as a security measure to prevent unauthorized transfers.

2. Second way is to protect your administrative email account associated with the domain. See also- What to do when your Gmail Account is Hacked ?

3. And last but not the least, go for an private domain registration.

Done! Stay Tuned for more exciting stuffs like this…



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