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How to securely register your domain name

How to securely register your domain name

14 rules to avoid legal issues when picking and registering a domain name for your company

Follow these simply 14 rules when picking a domain name for your new company and to avoid subsequent legal disputes over your domain name.

1: Carry out a fair amount of research

2: Think globally, not only locally

3: Search for various domain name extensions

4: Pick the right domain registrar

5: Consider hiring the services of a domain management agency

6: Consider who to share your domain management credentials with

7: Register your new domain name carefully

8: Choosing a strong password for your new domain name

9: Make sure you are entitled to hold the domain name extension

10: Provide a trusted and secure email address as your contact information

11: Register your new domain name for a maximum period of time allowed

12: Keep a separate record of all your domain names

13: Don’t rely on a grace period

14: Check your account registration and official Whois records

1: Carry out a fair amount of research

Choose your company’s domain name carefully. Check for any existing trademarks by carrying out research, or have this done professionally for you. Trademark databases from all over the world are available and are free online. If you infringe another company’s trademark, it could take years before you are discovered, and you might be forced to give away your domain name and lose all the business you have spent years to build.

2: Think globally, not only locally

You need to think globally about matters of intellectual property. Search the internet in different countries for your new company's desired name using Google Tools. Make sure you will not be infringing on anyone’s trademark in relation to the name or the goods and services that you plan to deliver.

3: Search for various domain name extensions

It is important to search for domain name extensions. By this, if your company is located in the UK, make sure you search for your domain name in other locations and extensions too. Once you have chosen a company name, search the availability of corresponding domain names.

If the desired domain name extension (ie. .com, .co.uk, .net and so on) is unavailable, choose a different company name and start the process all over again. You want to own all the main domain name exptensions, otherwise your customers will get confused.

4: Pick the right domain registrar

Open an account with a reputable reseller of domain names, preferably from the UK, and purchase the relevant domains yourself. Don't try to save a pound or so here and there. Some domain resellers have better security facilities than others, as well as higher-rated customer support. You might need every ounce of support if you ever need to recover your domain name following unauthorised changes.

5: Consider hiring the services of a domain management agency

If information technology is not your area of expertise, then instruct a reputable domain management agent to help you choose, purchase and manage your domain name portfolio. They will not allow third parties to access the domain name control panel.

They will support your web developer and your IT company with any changes that need to be made to the domain records without causing you any disruption. We recommend our own Secure Domain Transfer Mandate because the service is managed by a solicitor firm that is regulated and insured.

6: Consider who to share your domain management credentials with

If you decide to register the domain name yourself, then be prepared to give your domain login details to people such as your web designer, your IT support company, and your email provider. They will need to log in every now and then to set up the domain and make it work with your website and your IT. Remember, any one of them—or their employees— can change the ownership details of the domain, or worse, hijack the whole account.

So, if you manage the domain name yourself, do not forget to log in to your account immediately after your technical people have completed their tasks and change the access security settings. If after reading this step you still decide to purchase your domain yourself, then you need to read on.

7: Register your new domain name carefully

If you decide to register the domain yourself, do not delegate this task. The domain name is critical to your brand. Register your domain name yourself, then instruct a domain management company to manage your domain name portfolio for you. Choose a registrar for your new domain name carefully. Different registrars have different levels of security and different levels of customer support.

Someday you might need that support. For .co.uk domains, choose a registrar based in the UK. Do not necessarily choose the cheapest one, because small profit margins could ultimately lead to bad customer service. Judge the company by substance, and certainly not by their “special offer of the day”. Read the registrar reviews on domain name forums before choosing a registrar.

Pretend you have lost your login information, or that your domain account has been hacked or stolen by an employee. If this happens, you will need professional and experienced customer service.

8: Choosing a strong password for your new domain name

When setting up the account, choose a strong password and use to the maximum extent the security facility available with your registrar. Make it difficult for hackers to have access to your domain account. Use duel security settings and link your mobile telephone to your domain name account.

This will make sure that no login to your domain name can take place without your permission. This will further minimise the potential for your precious domain name being stolen.

9: Make sure you are entitled to hold the domain name extension

Some domain names are reserved for specific people and are not open for purchase to everyone. Those might be domain names that indicate that your business is located in a particular geographic location or that it provides a specific service to the public.

If you register a domain name that you are not entitled to, be prepared for it to one day be taken away from you. Make sure that you purchase a domain name extension to which you are entitled. For example .ca, .fr, .au, and many others might from time to time be reserved for certain people.

10: Provide a trusted and secure email address as your contact information

When providing your contact information, do not use a free Hotmail or Yahoo account. Doing so increases the likelihood that important renewal email reminders from your registrar will be thrown into your junk mail folder or simply bounced back, for many different reasons.

Also do not give as contact information the free email address that came with your broadband, such as myname@talktalk.co.uk or myname@02.co.uk . If and when you or a family member changes the broadband provider, or if you move homes, you will lose access to this email. This is a common error that can prove fatal to your domain.

11: Register your new domain name for a maximum period of time allowed

Register your new domain name for the maximum period allowed, normally 10 years.

Note a date two years hence to renew the domain name for a further period of 2 years. Do not rely on the registrar’s email reminders for renewal. These could be lost, forgotten, filtered as spam, or otherwise missed.

12: Keep a separate record of all your domain names

Keep a list of all your domain names and their respective registrars, and make a fresh copy of this list whenever there is any change.

This is in case you ever lose access to your domain name account. If you find yourselves party to a partnership dispute over domain names, you don’t want to have rely on the adverse party to tell you what domain names you might be entitled to.

13: Don’t rely on a grace period

If you have missed the renewal date of your domain name, you will be given 30 extra days as a grace period. After that, if you attempt to transfer the domain to a new registrar, you will lose it, and your website and possibly all your organisation’s email will effectively be shut down.

Make sure you never have to rely on the grace period for renewing your domain name because you can never know what might happen during those 30 days. Following the expiry of the grace period, expect a commercial domain name agent to purchase your now expired domain name.

They will try and sell it to you for an extortionate amount of money, which could as high as $50,000 for a domain name, which you could have renewed for £9.99. If you find yourself in this situation where you have to pay an extortionate sum of money to purchase back your domain name, take legal advice as soon as possible.

14: Check your account registration and official Whois records

After completing registration of the domain name, wait for a while and then check the Whois and Nominet records to make sure you entered all the information correctly.

Make sure your contact information is always accurately recorded on Whois and Nominet, and occasionally log in to your domain account to make sure everything is in order.

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