How 1 Mistake Can Shut Down Your Domain (& Cost Your Business $100K+)

In Knowledge Base Blog by Robert ConibearLeave a Comment

— “Shawn — our website is offline…”

How 1 Mistake Can Shut Down Your Domain— “We can’t even access email.”

….the desperation in the caller’s voice was palpable.

“If this goes on for much longer, it’s gonna cost us $100K. We’re a small operation; we can’t sustain that kinda loss.”

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It’s the business owner’s nightmare scenario: a domain disappearing offline. 

One full week without email. Seven days, no website.

Two events that virtually shut down an entire operation for what must have felt like an eternity, ultimately costing a company over one-hundred thousand dollars.

The reason….?

A busy manager had forgotten to respond to an ICANN request to verify his contact information: a momentary lapse that almost sunk the ship.

Do You Own a Domain Name? Here’s Why You Must Keep Your Contact Information Up-to-Date.

Business owners have a lot on their plate.

A jam-packed calendar, an overloaded inbox: most days, an email will arrive that’s deemed as low-priority – so you drag it to a ‘Reply Later’ folder… 

Then, you forget to respond at all.

The issue is: these apparently minor messages can often be more important than they first seem.

Truth be told, now could be the perfect time to check those forgotten inbox folders — as if you’ve received an email reminder from your domain name registrar, asking you to review or update your personal contact information, you need to respond immediately.

  • Forget the fact the email may look so long it’s near-impossible to decipher;
  • Do not be fooled by contents that look unimportant with heaps of redundant information.

The short story is: you must not ignore this email.

For if you do — that is: if you fail to verify the information linked to your domain name — you could suffer the same costly plight as our panicked caller.

Here are the reasons why.

Expiring Domain Name

Every registered domain name has an expiration date. And as this date approaches, your host will let you know: typically, via email.

If your contact information is outdated, you’ll never receive the warning. And if your domain name then expires, you could lose access to your website, your email, the lot. 

Worse, it will take considerable time (not to mention money) to bring your business back online — assuming recovery is possible at all.

Domain Update Notifications

A domain expiration warning is just one of the notifications you should want to see. To protect your business, you’ll also need to receive alerts every time someone makes a change related to your domain.

As if you receive such alerts, you can validate and confirm the update; or, take the necessary steps should a bad actor gain unauthorized access to your domain.

Don’t be surprised if a hacker tries to take over your domain or lock you out of your account — and if your contact information is correct, you’ll receive a warning the moment an attack is detected, so you can act immediately to block the threat.

What Happens If Your Information Is Incorrect?

There are two main reasons your information may be incorrect. 

  1. Either you purposefully share the wrong details, or
  2. You forget to update them following a change in your circumstances.

No matter the cause…. 

If you fail to give the correct contact information, your domain registrar has the right to suspend or cancel your domain name registration.

But the story doesn’t end there.

If you simply fail to respond to a direct request from your registrar to confirm your details, you could still see your account taken offline indefinitely.

No ‘what ifs’ no ‘buts’: if your domain host does not receive a prompt response, they are within their rights to suspend your account, regardless of the consequences to your business.

And if you don’t believe a registrar will act as such and without further warning — take heed of the call we shared at the start of this article as proof of their willingness to wreak havoc.

How To Keep Your Domain Contact Information Up-to-date

First-and-foremost, your contact information includes every last detail related to your business.

  • Email addresses
  • Postal addresses
  • Registered addresses
  • Phone numbers

If you change anything, contact your registrar immediately and share the latest details. And please note — ICANN is not able to modify information on your behalf.

It is up to you to do so. And while registrars are obliged by law to send an annual reminder to verify your current contact information: do not wait for the reminder before notifying them of a change.

If there’s an update, share the new contact information immediately. 

You will avoid preventable disruption, and possibly save your business hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in doing so.

What To Do If You Don’t Receive A Reminder

If your domain registrar fails to send you a reminder to update your contact information, you can email ICANN at compliance@icann.org and let them know this is the case. 

Alternatively, if you have received an email reminder, but you’re concerned it may be an email phishing attempt, then contact your registrar directly to confirm the validity of the message before you fill in any personal details.

After all, it can be extremely costly to ignore cybersecurity threats

However, as our client found out — failing to respond to a reminder regarding your WHOIS information could be just as expensive for your business.

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