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When a domain name is registered, the registrant acquires the right to use, renew, restore, or transfer the domain name. When the registrant no longer has those rights or someone else registers the domain name, the prior registrant may consider it a “lost domain name.”
To see if a domain name is registered and to find its registrant, you can perform a WHOIS search at .
ICANN does not have the ability or authority to transfer or return a domain name to anyone. ICANN’s authority is purely contractual and is limited to the Registrar Accreditation Agreement , the Registry Agreements , and ICANN’s Consensus Policies.
How Does A Domain Get Hijacked
Hackers are always trying new and improved methods to launch cyber attacks so its hard to determine every possible method a hacker may use to hijack a domain.
Below, well explain the most common methods used:
How Not To Have A Domain Name Stolen
Unless the hacker have chosen your email by chance, the task is made more difficult if the contact emails are hidden in the whois.
Avoid consulting webpages while a connection to an email account is still open. This is not only for Gmail, in 2003, researchers claimed that 8,000 Hotmail accounts were pirated per day.
You must also avoid to use for contacts e-mail accounts which offer an opportunity to redirect emails according to a filter, to another e-mail account, as happened in this case. Verify in the panel of the account.
We must never to stay connected on an e-mail account and load a Web page. This rule applies more generally to any service that requires a login and a password.
Do not install the GreaseMonkey plug-in for Firefox which allows scripts to run directly in the browser.
The use of webmail could facilitate piracy. The use of software such as Thunderbird in secure mode would be more secure.
You can also use a POP account that is offered by most hosts and registrars for contacts.
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What Other Methods Can You Take Before Going To Court To Protect Your Domain Against Cybersquatting
As we mentioned previously, protecting your domain should be a proactive process. Monitor your online presence and the use of your trademarks, either on your own or with a reputable service. At Minc Law, we offer Digital Risk Protection , a monitoring service that helps protect your digital assets and guard against privacy breaches.
You should also create a list of common misspellings of your name and different top-level domains . Then, consider purchasing these domain names to thwart would-be cybersquatters. This is typically much cheaper than purchasing a domain from a squatter or having to pursue litigation or arbitration.
Cybersquatting & Social Media: Where to Report Fake Social Media Accounts
Social media platforms have raised new concerns not contemplated by older cybersquatting laws. Most cybersquatting laws, like the ACPA, are aimed at top-level domain names. A social media account is not a domain, but rather a sub-domain. For instance, our firm is not interested in owning the domain Facebook.com but we definitely have an interest in protecting Facebook.com/MincLaw from would-be squatters.
Fortunately, most social media platforms Terms of Service prohibit impersonation and misappropriation. If someone creates a fake social media account under your name, you should review the platforms TOS and report the account. For more information, check out the following platforms instructions for reporting fake accounts:
The Official Rules For Expired Domain Names
Fortunately, ICANN has set some rules to ensure that you do not lose your domain name for good when you pay your registration fee too late:
- Redemption Grace Period: a period in which, within X days after your registration has expired, you can easily reclaim your domain name, at no extra cost. The number of days depends on the type of extension, and is usually between 30 and 90 days.
- Redemption Period: If you do not claim your domain name back during the RGP, then there is a second redemption period: you can get the domain name back into your hands by paying a repurchase fee, in addition to the amount due for renewing the registration, of course. This period also varies from one registrar to another, and can last from 2 weeks to 30 days. The domain is then placed on hold, which means that no one else can register it apart from its original owner. The repurchase price varies from $70 to $250, depending on the registrar.
- 5 days after the redemption period is over, the registrar is legally bound to release the domain. It will then be removed from the ICANN database , and made available for registration by anyone.
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File A Lawsuit In Federal Court Alleging Violations Of The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Or Other Laws
The only remedies in a UDRP action is an award from the arbitrator instructing the registrar of the domain name to cancel, transfer or otherwise make changes to domain name registration. A mark owner who seeks other remedies, such as money damages or an injunction against ongoing infringement, must file a lawsuit under the Lanham Act or other applicable laws.
An ACPA lawsuit can be very effective. The mark owner is entitled to actual damages, or alternatively, the court can award statutory damages of up to $100,000 for each infringing domain name. In one ACPA lawsuit, the notorious typosquatter John Zuccarini was ordered to pay statutory damages of $500,000 for five infringing domain names plus the mark owners attorneys fees and costs of more than $60,000.
Options To Remove A Cybersquatter & Recover Your Domain Name
If you believe a domain name was registered in bad faith and you are not inclined to pay the ransom note/asking price, you do have options. You can remove a cybersquatter and acquire your domain name by:
- Contacting the cybersquatter directly, explaining why you are interested in the domain, and negotiating a transfer of the domain
- Sending a takedown letter or reporting the abuse to the websites registrar and hosting provider in the case of phishing sites and malicious domains
- Filing a lawsuit under the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and/or
- Requesting arbitration through the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
Each option comes with its own pros and cons, so you should discuss your options with an experienced Internet attorney to ensure the best chance of success.
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Ways To Recover A Domain Name From An Infringing Cybersquatter
Charles RunyanJanuary 20, 2011 | Updated: December 9, 201516
If you own one of the more than 3 million trademarks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there is an excellent chance that a cybersquatter has obtained Internet domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to your mark. Domain names routinely infringe on trademarks.
One reason there are so many trademark-infringing domain names is because of the sheer number of registered domain names. More than 202 million Internet domain names have been registered, far more than the roughly 172,000 entries in the Oxford English Dictionary for words in current use.
But the single biggest reason there are so many infringing domain names is a prevailing lack of knowledge. Most people, including domain name registrants, are unaware of:
How Does Cybersquatting Work
Cybersquatting typically arises in two situations the squatter registers the domain to either siphon your customers or to coerce payment for the re-sale of the domain.
The first situation, where the squatter attempts to siphon customers, is often employed by competitors or scammers to steal customers from a well-known business. The domain squatter will target profitable businesses that have not registered their domain name or they find a confusingly similar domain name.
An offshoot of this form of cybersquatting involves using a businesss name for phishing. In this scenario, a hacker will register the domain and send out emails that appear to be from a legitimate business or organization. Once unsuspecting consumers click on links within the email, they are sent to a bogus page designed to gather passwords and other sensitive information.
In February 2021, this form of cyber security threat happened to the Maryland Department of Transportation. Thousands of Maryland vehicle owners received emails and text messages that appeared to be from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. The messages steered unsuspecting users to a fake site, claiming that personal information was needed to comply with REAL ID requirements. In reality, the page was created by scammers trying to get access to the users private and personal information.
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Domain Name Theft Is On The Rise
In the past several weeks, I have witnessed several domain names that I can confirm were, in fact, stolen from their owners. These valuable domain names were stolen, and as of writing this post, none of them have been recovered and returned to their owners:
- Perl.com stolen around Jan 27 2021
- Neurologist.com stolen around Jan 27 2021
- Chip.com stolen around Jan 27, 2021
- Patterns.com stolen around December 8, 2020
- Piracy.com stolen around December 8, 2020
All of these domain names were stolen by a domain name thief. They typically gained access to the domain name registrar account involved and then transferred the domain names to another domain name registrar. In some cases, they will change the ownership record so that it shows that the domain name is under privacy, and the contact details are hidden. Then, once they transfer the domain name to another domain name registrar, they will un-hide the domain name ownership details and put the old owner details in place of the private details. That way it looks like they original owner still owns the domain name, but the domain name is in the thiefs account. In all of the cases listed above, the domain name thief has tried to sell the domain names for about 10 percent of what they are actually worth. Theyll list them on websites such as Afternic.com and Sedo.com.
Uncovering Secrets With Dns
Every domain has DNS info that is public. You can browse this on many sites but I like to use leafdns.com. DNS is what points domain services to different servers like pointing your email to Google and your website to Bluehost. This may not tell you who owns your domain but it can tell you HOW your domain is being used which may be an important step in recovering your website files if youve lost those in addition to the domain. I often use this when Im on a call and a prospect doesnt even know where their site is hosted. It makes me look really smart!
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For Those Who Signed Up With Their Web Host Themselves
If you are one of the people who actually followedmy guide faithfullyand only got a designer after you’ve personally signed up for a domain name and a web host, and you’re payingthe bills directly to your registrar and web host, you probably don’t need to do the things mentioned in this articleto regain control of your website.
Even if your web developer has changed the password for your web hosting accountto lock you out, you can get it back. Simply contact your web host and explain the situation. You may have to verifythat you’re the real owner, but that’s usually quite easy to do if you’re their customer on recordand are paying the bills directly to them. Your web host will probably just change the password to a new one of yourchoosing, and you’ll have regained control of your site.
Of course if your web host and your web designer are one and the same, this won’t work for you.
What Are The Best Ways To Address Cybersquatting Being Committed In Another Country
If you are dealing with a cybersquatter outside the U.S., UDRP arbitration may be advisable. Through the World Intellectual Property Organizations Arbitration and Mediation Center, the dispute can be resolved regardless of where the parties are located in the world.
Generally, U.S. law cannot be applied to foreign defendants unless they have at least minimum contacts with the United States. Establishing jurisdiction would only add more complexity and costs to ACPA litigation .
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Regain Access To My Domain Or My Godaddy Account
Submit a request to regain access to your domain or your account if you:
- Lost access to the email address listed in your account.
- Couldnt validate your account ownership with a GoDaddy Guide.
- Dont have access to the account with your domain and youre listed as the registrant.
Note: If you have access to the email address associated with your account but can’t sign in, try resetting your password.
- If you’re trying to get access to your account, list all domains associated with your account.
- If you’re requesting access to a domain, enter an email address different than the one associated with your domain.
- If you select Yes, enter Your Company Name and upload a government-issued document for company identification.