Nearly 1.9 billion records containing personal data have been compromised between January 2017 and March 2018. 75% of data breaches occur due to external hackers and data attackers. More importantly, the average cost of a single data breach can be as high as $3.62 million!
Given how damaging data breaches can be, you need to take domain privacy protection seriously.
What Is Domain Privacy Protection?
When you register a domain name, your personal details are saved in a publicly available database called WHOIS. Domain privacy protection is basically an ‘add on’ service you buy to protect your personal data and keep it hidden from the rest of the world.
If you opt not to buy domain privacy protection, you’re basically choosing to expose your personal information on the WHOIS public database, so anyone can see your contact details (assuming you’re the domain registrant). This includes the domain registrant’s email address, phone number, mailing address, name, and any other information required to legally register a domain name.
WHOIS is a public directory which maintains a record of all domain registrations online. This includes domain registrant details, verifications, their expiry, renewal dates, and more.
It’s very similar to how any asset you own is registered under a governing authority or register. Think about your car or your house; you would’ve registered it under a governing authority which records ownership, its start date, and duration.
You can trace the ownership of any domain on the internet using the WHOIS lookup feature. In the following screenshot, we search the domain registrant details for ‘nike.com’.
Below, we can see who the domain registrar is, when the registration expires, and when it was last updated.
Scrolling further down, we can see the registrant’s name, which city they’re located in, and can even access their phone number and email address.
Now, for a large company like Nike, it’s not a big deal to make this information available publicly. However, if you’re a small business owner, you need to be careful with the accessible information about your business, where it’s available, and why.
How Can You Get Domain Privacy Protection, and for What Price?
You can get domain privacy protection during the process of registering a new domain name with your domain registrar (or your hosting provider). They usually offer it as an extra feature, usually priced between $2 and $20 a year. That’s quite reasonable when you think about the extent of the risk it mitigates!
But do you really need domain privacy protection? Let’s look at reasons why it makes sense to get it.
Why Do You Need Domain Privacy Protection?
There’s a whole range of things that can go terribly wrong if you don’t mask your personal data with domain privacy protection. And that’s exactly why you should know what can happen, in order to understand the true value of domain privacy protection.
#1: Your personal data can be accessed by anyone.
If your private information is available on the WHOIS public directory, just about ANYONE can access it. This includes people you don’t want to expose yourself to, like hackers, competitors, jealous acquaintances, and anyone else with bad intentions.
This is a massive risk, especially if you’re in the middle of inventing a new concept, or building a website for a project you’d like to keep in stealth mode, or if you just don’t want people to know who you are!
By not purchasing privacy protection, your personal data can get hacked and you’re exposed to identity theft. What’s worse, if your website is hacked, your customers data gets compromised along with it, and you risk losing the trust you’ve built with them overtime in an instant.
A problem like that can easily destroy a small business.
#2: You might get bombarded with unwanted sales calls, and even get scammed.
Now, if your personal information is out there for the world to see, there’s nothing stopping pushy marketers out there from getting hold of your details and trying to reach you. You could get a ton of calls from anyone who wants to sell something.
On top of that, you risk getting scammed. If these sales folks know your details, they could potentially scam you into buying things you don’t need.
#3: Your website and other online assets can get hacked.
Your website took time to build. It’s almost like building a house. And if it’s not fully protected, there’s a small chance it could fall prey to a fraudulent domain transfer. What that means is that someone else could break into your domain control panel and transfer your website to their name, without your consent.
Domain privacy protection shields you from such dangers by masking critically confidential information. It’s like leaving your house open for strangers to come have a look at who’s inside it. If you tend to keep your house locked to protect yourself and your family, it’s common sense to protect your domain from strangers on the internet, i.e., hackers.
#4: Your personal data can be sold.
What’s even more dangerous, is when other companies engage in something called ‘data scraping’ to collect personal data from publicly available sources like WHOIS, in order to sell it to third parties.
Perhaps the latest, most relevant example is the allegations against Facebook for selling personal data to advertisers.
Clearly, this is not some trivial issue to be overlooked, and you should always pay attention to your cyber security.
#5: You will get a ton of spam emails.
It’s not just sales calls you can get. It’s also a ton of spam emails you open yourself up to by leaving your personal data exposed. Every spammer out there knows how to find personal data on public directories, and email is the easiest channel to target small business owners.
Are you already receiving a ton of spam you haven’t subscribed to? Have a look at your spam inbox and count the amount emails you get, and from where. If you’re receiving junk emails, it’s because your details are lying exposed for spammers to use.
#6: Your competition will know a LOT about you.
It’s easier for your competition to stalk you if your personal information is easily accessible. They’ll know who you are, where you are, and how to get in contact with you.
As a small business owner, when you’re working with limited resources, any information you leak out to competitors can prove to be very expensive, especially if you’re offering something unique to the marketplace. So, hedge your risk, don’t show all your cards, and prevent competitors from stalking you with domain privacy protection.
#7: You can’t register a domain without providing authentic information.
You’re probably wondering if there’s a way around registering a domain with fake data. Why provide your details to your domain registrar and get listed on WHOIS in the first place?
The reality is that you can only register a domain with authentic information. All of the information you provide is verified. Again, very similar to registering any asset with a governing authority. Moreover, authenticity is a must as a small business owner to win the respect and trust of your audience from the start. You can’t afford to look fake in front of your audience.
So, what are your options?
It’s worthwhile to check if you have domain privacy protection already by calling your domain registrar’s or hosting provider’s customer support. A lot of small businesses don’t even know if they have it, as they’re usually rushing through the process of domain registration, so, if you’re reading this, make sure to check it out! If you don’t have domain privacy protection already, here are some of your options:
Option 1: Buy domain privacy protection while registering a new domain name. This is a great time to do it; you might as well get it done from the start.
Option 2: Add domain privacy to an existing domain name. If you just checked your domain privacy and realized it’s not protected, you can add it at anytime. Contact your domain registrar or hosting provider to purchase it today.
Getting domain privacy protection is easy, inexpensive, and can save you a lot of trouble. Is your domain protected?