Closing your business isn’t something you have likely planned toward. We want our businesses to go on and thrive forever. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “more than 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years”.
If you do have to close up, our advice is to keep your domain name. We advise this for two reasons. First, it is low cost. But, more importantly, if you just let your domain registration expire, it could end up in the wrong hands and your personal and professional data could be hacked.
Take the hypothetical example that Aussie cyber security consultant Gabor Szathmari shares in his recent blog. If a law firm abandons a domain name (due to winding up, acquisition, etc) anyone can acquire the name when it becomes available again. A cyber-criminal could acquire it, find out all the email addresses that use to be associated with it, and then use this information to access former Gmail accounts, including sensitive emails from past clients and financial information; perform password resets, and gain access to Dropbox accounts, LinkedIn profiles, and so on. The criminal may gain the same level of access to these accounts as employees and the IT administrator. Not to mention the fact that a hacker could start acting on behalf of the former registrant, even reactivating old websites and trading as the former business. All by registering an expired domain name.
So, how can you prevent this happening to your domain name and data?
1. Keep Up Your Domain Name Registration
You now have the option of registering a .au domain name for 1-5 years, so consider registering if for 5 years so that you have control over it. Be mindful of the eligibility policy around registering a .au domain name, though. If you no longer have an active ABN you may not be eligible to renew.
2. Change Email Addresses
If you choose to let the domain expire as per the .au domain lifecycle, do a stocktake of which applications are associated with your domain name email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) and change them to your current email address.
You should also unsubscribe from email notifications, inform contacts to update their address book with your new details, and use two-factor authentication (which requires you to enter a code that is sent to you by SMS or via an app).
By following these tips, you’ll be reducing the risk of being hacked and having your personal and private data exposed and misused.
Want to know if your preferred domain name is available and where you can register it? Check here.