Domain Slamming: What it is, How to Protect Yourself - Definitions and Explanations
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Okay, so if you canít avoid domain slamming that way, how can you protect yourself? Before I get to that, let me define a few terms (if you already know what these mean, just treat it as a review):
- A registrar offers domain name services. Reputable ones are registered with ICANN; if you have a problem with any registrar, you can file a complaint with ICANN.
- A registrant is the person who owns a domain name. If you arenít listed in the WHOIS database as the registrant for your domain name, legally youíre not the owner. (Incidentally, some less-than-reputable registrars list themselves as the owners of domain names rather than the person whoís actually paying for it; make sure you know your registrarís policies).
- A gaining registrar is the registrar to whom a domain name is being transferred.
- A losing registrar is the registrar from whom a domain name is being transferred.
- The administrative contact is the person at your company who makes updates and changes to the record concerning your domain name as necessary. This is often the registrant himself, but it doesnít have to be (especially if the registrant is not comfortable with the domain name registration process). In an online business, itís likely to be the chief technical officer.
- The technical contact handles the domain name servers where your domain is stored or hosted. This could be someone at your web hosting company.
- The billing contact is the person who is contacted when the domain name needs to be renewed, and handles other billing issues.
Now that the definitions are out of the way, letís take a quick look at how domain name transfers work. The current transfer process was put into effect by ICANN in November of 2004. Only the administrative contact and the registrant have the authority to approve or deny a transfer request. There is a standardized form of authorization (FOA) available at ICANNís web site that is supposed to be used for the transfer process; either a physical or an electronic copy is permissible, but the gaining registrar is supposed to confirm the identity of the person making the transfer (and if they use a paper version of the form, itís supposed to be signed by either the administrative contact or the registrant). The thing is, if the transfer is via email, all the gaining registrar needs to obtain is ďConsent from an individual or entity that has an email address matching the Transfer Contact email address.Ē
Now the losing registrar can independently confirm whether the registrant really wants to transfer the domain, but it isnít obligated to do so. It is obligated to send an FOA to the registrant or administrative contact within 24 hours of receiving the transfer request from the gaining registrar. But hereís the scary part: if the losing registrar does nothing, OR if it sends you the FOA but you do nothing, the transfer request goes through. Thatís the default mode; youíd think it would be the other way, with nothing happening if you donít do anything, but thatís not the way it works. Also, you donít have very long to respond to it if you receive an FOA. You can read all the details of ICANNís domain name transfer policy for yourself. You might want to read it slowly; itís not very long, but itís written in legalese (though itís fairly clear for what it is).
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