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Selling Or Abandoning A Domain Name? Be Cautious

September 17, 2018

Before selling your domain name or letting it expire, there's some important things you should do first.

There may come a time when you decide you wish to sell your domain name or perhaps you're winding up your business, so your intention is to just let the registration lapse.

Cybersecurity expert Gabor Szathmari recently warned the latter in particular poses some security risks. While he was detailing the risks posed to law firms, the same sorts of issues can apply to other businesses.

For example, once your domain name expires, it may be registered by another party quite quickly. Any email that continues going to that address will wind up in a catch-all account and be accessible by the new registrant . Some of those communications may have sensitive details about your customers and suppliers, or about you. 

If the domain name is acquired by a malicious party, that person may also subsequently approach your contacts posing as you or use the information for other nefarious activities. Even if the party only has the name for a short time, a great deal of damage could potentially be done.

For this reason, if you do decide to let a name lapse, ensure all your customers/suppliers know well in advance the name and the email addresses associated with it will no longer be active. You should also check all accounts with third-party services that have an email address associated with the domain  (e.g. social media profiles, banking) are up to date with a new contact email address; otherwise another party may be able to access those accounts through password resets.

What's also a good idea is to maintain the registration for as long as you can even if you're not actively using the name, as that will allow you to identify and address residual issues. In the case of addresses, as long as you still have an active ABN associated with the registration, under .AU guidelines this is perfectly fine to do.

While the above is in relation to letting a domain name expire, much of it also applies if you intend selling a domain name.

It's well worth reading Mr. Szathmari's report to get a better sense of the ramifications of the issue of letting a domain name expire before properly decommissioning it.

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