Businesses reminded to protect their domain names

Businesses reminded to protect their domain names

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has issued a reminder for businesses to protect their domain names (their internet mail addresses and online business identity), warning against abandoning domain names to cybercriminals through administrative oversight. Allowing corporate domain names to expire puts businesses at risk, potentially exposing clients’ personal and confidential information, client-legal privileged information and financial details.

Failing to protect domain names can also lead to reputational damage to individuals and businesses; the ACSC warns that losing control of your website and email service can be devastating, even if your company has merged or shut down. Renewing domain names typically costs $15 a year — if businesses fail to renew their domain names, they can end up on a ‘dropped domains’ website for others to register and sell. Approximately 1000 Australian domain names fail to be renewed each day. Abandoning domain names means businesses lose their websites and also any emails subsequently sent to the same domain name.

Independent cybersecurity researcher Gabor Szathmari warns that the flow-on effect can enable cybercriminals to gain access to, and reset passwords for, online services and profession-specific portals where email is required to sign up. The risk is even greater for sites or accounts that only require single-factor authentication to reset passwords (such as receipt of an email to regain access where a password is forgotten).

Whoever has control over the domain name and is able to set up a basic email service can capture password reset emails. Szathmari’s research revealed that by taking control over abandoned domain names previously belonging to legal practices, cybercriminals can access confidential documents of former clients, confidential documents of the former practice, confidential email correspondence and personal information of former clients.

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