Understanding and Preventing Domain Hijacking

Domain hijacking can be painful if you are browsing the Web and especially bad if you are the site owner. This article will cover in a bit of detail what domain hijacking is exactly, as well as tips to prevent and even reverse a hijacking.

To understand domain hijacking, you must have a simple understanding of what DNS is. DNS is also referred to as a “Domain Name System,” and it acts as an address book of sorts for the Web. When you type a web address into an address bar, the browser sends a request to the DNS which then matches the URL to an IP address. After that, the content you requested is loaded. This all follows through your Internet service provider.

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At the most basic level, domain hijacking is the redirection of a DNS query to another address. Sometimes these redirected addresses may be entirely different in looks from the intended site of visitation, and other times it may look just like the site you intended to visit in hopes that you, the user, will unknowingly enter personal information into the site.

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First and perhaps foremost, download a reliable piece of anti-malware software. There is a chance that if domain hijacking happens, it is not that the domain is compromised across the entire Web, but rather that malware on your own machine is causing your DNS entries to redirect to phishing and malicious sites. Malwarebytes is a free program that is trusted as one of the best options out there for keeping your Mac or PC clean.

Choose a registrar that is established and not easily thwarted. If the provider is unheard of, chances are that it is not the most reliable and trustworthy option. Do your due diligence and do not be afraid to pay a few extra pennies a year for a higher level of security.

Use a strong password and two-factor authentication. It seems elementary, but it is often overlooked. Taking the time to consider a strong password that is not shared anywhere else may be the difference between having your site overtaken and not.

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If it is your domain that has become hijacked, you will want to start by contacting the domain registrar. This could be Google, GoDaddy, or any provider that actually issued the web address to you. Again, choosing a reliable registrar could mitigate this trouble before it happens.

As was mentioned earlier, do take a second to try to access the site on multiple machines (and therefore multiple IP addresses). It is possible that the issue is internal and not server-based.

Change any and all passwords pertaining to your URL and web accounts. This will prevent the hacker from being able to take back control. These password settings can be found within the registrar dashboard.

Navigating the Internet in a safe way and protecting your domains can sometimes be far from easy. But, with a few precautions, keeping your data and users’ data safe is very much within reach.

5 comments

  1. Another article on the possible perils of the Internet and Linux/BSD get another short shrift. Remedies are suggested for Windows and Mac but none for Linux/BSD. I wonder why?

    Is it because Linux/BSD is immune? I doubt it because domain hijacking can occur no matter what O/S is being used.
    Is it because Make Tech Easier does not have writers proficient in Linux/BSD? I doubt it since Linux articles do appear on MTE occasionally.
    Is it because MTE tends to treat Linux/BSD as an ugly step child or a second class O/S? Hmmm. I think that is for MTE policy makers to answer.

    • Dragonmouth, I find your comment grossly off topic at worse and totally unproductive at best. Please keep your wondering & indirect jabs to the MTE authors to yourself. (there is a comment policy) Occasionally you have good thought provoking comments but in this case you are only demonstrating your egocentricity more than you normally do….my .02

    • If you’re looking for more Linux based articles, you could always request some via the Contact Us form or become a writer yourself. :) I’m confused as to what this comment has to do with this article’s topic at hand, if anything.

  2. “become a writer yourself”
    Had I the necessary expertise, I would. As it is, all I can do is ask leading questions. Inquiring minds want to know. :-)

    “I’m confused as to what this comment has to do with this article’s topic at hand, if anything.”
    As I said, you provide remedies to prevent domain hijacking for Windows and Mac users. Don’t you think Linux users could use some advice on this matter, too? If the above was a Windows/Mac specific article, I would have no beef. However, it is a general one about the Internet. Linux users is a substantial part of the Internet.

    • The remedies featured work on all platforms, with the exception of installing Malware bytes to run a scan— that only works on Windows and macOS due to the lack of development on Malwarebytes’ end for Linux based systems. That’s why I mentioned Windows and macOS for that specific point; the rest of the advice is universal.

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