With free access to information on the internet, today preserving your privacy has become increasingly difficult. We all enter sensitive data to websites daily and when you registered your branded domain name with your registrar or a certified provider you gave away your information. Keeping sensitive information from the eyes of strangers is a challenge and one you want to have increased vigilance about.
In reality, as a website owner, your sensitive information is readily available to anyone who cares to look for it. That is, unless you’ve made the smart decision to invest in domain privacy.
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ICANN and the WHOIS Listing
ICANN stands for Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and WHOIS is a phrase that represents “Who is”. These bodies govern the registration data for domain names. ICANN requires that Domain Registrar Companies provide the mailing address, first and last name, phone number and email address of those that have purchased a domain and the information of the administrator be readily available online via WHOIS Directory.
This mandate by ICANN leaves your domain and website vulnerable to Spammers, direct marketers, identity thieves and hackers. Enabling them to use the directory and exploit your sensitive information.
In recent years ICANN has been working to change the policy for WHOIS. In fact, they wish to enact tighter privacy measures. However, major stakeholders have not yet reached a joint consensus about what changes to make.
You will be able to obtain domain privacy from most registrars. Therefore, it curtails some of the risks involving your sensitive information being viable to everyone.
What Is Domain Privacy?
Domain Privacy or more commonly WHOIS Privacy is a service which enables you to keep sensitive information about your domain registration private. Registrars then use a mask by a proxy server that gives the information of a forwarding service. Simply put, WHOIS Privacy ensures that your sensitive information is kept away from the prying eyes of cyber-criminals, scammers, identity thieves and direct marketers.
While most large Corporations don’t feel the need to enable Domain Privacy, small business owners, bloggers and freelancers with their own websites may feel differently about their information being available to anyone.
3 Reasons Domain Privacy is Worth Every Cent
1. It Protects your Sensitive Information
As a small business owner or blogger how comfortable are you with having your information available to anyone with an internet connection? Most likely you aren’t. Not to mention you don’t want it to make it easier for cyber-criminals, spammers and direct marketers to target you and your website.
What’s probably worse is the threat of identity theft. Every bit of information you provide like your address and phone number can be used to help steal your identity. Using WHOIS Privacy ensures that your information is kept out of the wrong hands. Data breaches happen all the time on the internet so any resource at your disposable should be used to protect you, your website, and your private information.
With WHOIS Privacy enabled your personal information stays private while you preserve complete ownership and control of your domain.
2. It Reduces Spam
Spam litters and inundates our lives on almost every level. Most of us receive random calls from telemarketers trying to sell us services or products we would never seek out for ourselves. We receive spam in our physical mailboxes from flyers to various advertisements, to product magazines. Email spam bloats our Spam folders or sometimes our inboxes on a daily basis and the list goes on.
Domain privacy offers you protection against spam garbage clogging your inbox and even your website.
3. Protects you against Cyber Criminals & Scammers
Internet scams have been common since we’ve connected from the onset. The information you have available the more likely for you to be targeted by scammers. Cyber Criminals have also been around from the dawn of the internet and having your information readily available to them leaves you susceptible to a cyber-attack or a scam.
For example, a scammer armed with your sensitive information can try to scam you by posing as a domain registrar company if they see that your domain is about to expire. If you fall prey to the scam, not only will they have your money but they gain access to your credit card information as well.
Cyber-criminals can launch another attack like Domain Hijacking. They do this by posing as your domain registration company and requesting that you give them information like the keys to your domain. While your actual Domain Registrar has measures in place to thwart this kind of attacks, cyber-criminals are crafty and the more information they have about you and your domain registration the more likely they are to successfully scam you.
WHOIS Privacy protects erases the vulnerability and susceptibility to a cyber-attack or scammer.
Other Perks of Domain or WHOIS Privacy
More domain privacy perks:
- The ability to hide your website from your competition’s marketing research.
- Prevents Companies and Firms from taking your information and reselling it to others; for example, the selling of email
- Helps you avoid fraudsters and stalkers
- You control your sensitive information and ensures it remains private
Which Domain Names Support Domain Privacy
Domain Privacy is available for most top-level TLD-extensions as an add-on. This includes popular domain extensions like .com, .net, .co.uk, .org, .info, .app and many more.
However, there are a few domain extensions that come with a build it privacy caveat in the TLD itself. These domain extensions include: .uk, .de, and .eu to name a few.
What can you expect with built-in Domain Privacy?
- .uk: The guardian of the UK Domain namespace is called Nominet. They provide privacy tools automatically on their extension family: .co.uk, .me.uk, etc. It hides the full address with exception of the the name.
- .de: Denic the German Internet Registration Authority in May 2018 enacted extensive changes to its WHOIS Lookup Service. Third parties can no longer access domain ownership data from the WHOIS directory, without a few exceptions.
- .eu: The public WHOIS Records can only display the email address if the domain registrant is a natural person unless otherwise specified.
How do you get Domain Privacy?
You can attain domain privacy at any time you want. There are two options you can choose to ensure your domain registration information is within the WHOIS Privacy and not made public by:
1. Opting for Domain Privacy at the time of purchasing your domain.
This comes highly recommended. Once you enter your information while purchasing your domain it is protected from the onset. When making a purchase you should have an option to add it to your cart. If not simply call your Domain Registrar and have them walk you through adding WHOIS Privacy to your Domain.
2. Opting for Domain Privacy after purchasing your Domain
Perhaps you’ve had your domain for some time now and was not aware of WHOIS Privacy as an option of protecting your data. While it is not too late to add domain privacy, be aware that your information was already indexed in the WHOIS Directory for public viewing. However, it is possible to remove this information when the database clears its caches.
Note however, that for optimum privacy and security opting for Domain Privacy at the purchase of your domain ensures the highest level of protection.