Don’t neglect domain security – Why it’s key to brand protection



By opening themselves up to a wider market through globalisation and the move online, enterprises have also encountered increased competition and higher levels of brand abuse. Added to that mix and providing another headache for business decision-makers is the ever-present cyber-security threat.


For any organization, one of the key elements of both cyber-security and brand protection is the need to safeguard the business domain. The threat to the domain name system (DNS) space is growing as cyber-criminals become bolder. And the damage these attacks cause businesses is often severe.


First, they can take the company website offline, which impacts corporate email and blocks customer access to key services, including sales. Second, they can direct traffic away from the company’s website to a look-a-like site they own, where they can harvest customer details or sell counterfeit goods. Last, they could even hack into the organization’s registrar account and change ownership of the domain name(s) and transfer it from the organization itself.



Domain protection


Given the importance of domains and domain protection to organizations today, what can business owners do to secure them and mitigate the risk?


Choose the right registrar


Choosing the right corporate-only registrar is an important step. It is essential to select one that has hardened security practices in place and an excellent understanding of the landscape, threats and the ways to mitigate them. Such a registrar will also have specialised security features for preventing, detecting and responding to attacks against any domains, including:

  • Avoiding automated emails as a primary means of communication
  • Keeping activity logs to track domain name updates
  • Maintaining strong password management and forcing regular password changes
  • Offering multiple levels of access
  • Restricting access to a portal via an IP address
  • Sending notifications on name changes


Centralise the Domain Portfolio


As organizations have many domains to keep track of and secure, it makes sense to have an overall view of all of them across all offices, brands and locations. Ideally, this should be a centralised, global view to ensure you are always looking at the whole domain picture.


Watch what’s important


It’s also important to track critical domains because they are vital to the health of the business. Monitor for unauthorised DNS updates, changes to website content and DNS cache poisoning. The faster issues are identified, the faster they can be remediated.


Use two-factor authentication as standard


When accessing a domain management portal or DNS management portal, use two-factor authentication because it provides an extra layer of security that requires not only a password and username, but also something that only the user can give, like a one-time password via text or secure mobile app.


Lock it up tight


Locking domains means they can’t be transferred. Once registered, domains should be configured and locked. This can be taken a step further and brands can implement registrar locking, an elevated locking mechanism that freezes all domain configurations until the registrar unlocks them on completion of a customer-specified security protocol.

This should be applied to mission-critical domains such as transactional sites, email systems, intranets and site-supporting applications.


Holistic approach


To thrive in the domain landscape going forwards, businesses will need to focus on domain security as part of a wider brand protection strategy that incorporates dealing with brand abuse, infringement and cyber-threats. Looking at domains specifically, this management strategy can help secure the domain portfolio and ensure it is performing as it should. Key to this process is working with the right corporate registrar, one that has security measures in place to mitigate threats, and help the brand keep their domain portfolio safe.



By Akino Chikada, portfolio marketing director, MarkMonitor


About Author


Akino is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Director for the MarkMonitor Brand Protection solutions. She started her career in public relations and marketing in London and has worked in Europe, Asia and the United States. She has led and served interim roles in global marketing strategies, product marketing, events management, public relations, corporate communications and regional marketing. Akino holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University College of London, a Master of Science from the London School of Economics, and has trilingual fluency in English, Italian and Japanese.

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