Beware of abandoned domain names in these turbulent times and as the global economy evolves


The COVID-19 epidemic has caused disruption around the world, for entire nations and their economies. Unfortunately, there will be side effects for businesses.

  • A number of brands will disappear from the streets and shelves, as companies that do not weather the storm will have to close their doors.
  • Companies that survive will likely focus more on their core markets, pulling brands out of higher risk and less profitable markets.
  • As vulnerable companies seek to stay afloat and stable brands seek a bargain, there will likely be an increase in mergers and acquisitions.

It is with this retraction or convergence of brands that cybercriminals will profit. A sad truth is that, whenever disaster strikes, cybercriminals are ready to capitalize on the emerging crisis for quick cash, and COVID-19 is no exception.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest an increase in cyber attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic – and the method of particular concern for branding, outsourcing or merging is that of abandoned domain names.

The reason is that abandoned corporate domain names carry a digital footprint of activity that can be exploited as an attack vector. The domain name, along with its Domain Name System (DNS), is the foundation of any business and brand, allowing access to websites, email, virtual private network (VPN) and possibly even to voice over IP. This is where the risk lies.

According to a recent article published by CSO Online, researchers attempted to understand the impact of the expiration of an old domain by re-registering expired domains of merged or acquired companies and by setting up mail servers. Soon after, researchers began to receive an influx of emails, including confidential information such as bank correspondence, invoices, sensitive legal documents, and LinkedIn® updates..

This shows that, without actually hacking into a company’s systems, a re-registered domain name not only gives the new registrant instant access to emails, but also the ability to reset passwords for accounts, including portals. management or financial, databases and social media. . This can expose a business to phishing attacks, data breaches, social engineering, etc.

It’s also possible to revert an old online store to accept new orders and payments without actually fulfilling them, and to resume email marketing accounts to run phishing campaigns. Many users reuse old passwords, and a single compromised account can lead to further breaches on other accounts.

So what’s the solution for brands changing as a result of COVID-19? How do you protect the assets of a brand deleted due to budget cuts, or those of a company that has just been acquired? Businesses face a dilemma: Are they keeping and renewing every domain name just for security, or are they shrinking their wallets at a time of tight budgets?

The first option of keeping or renewing each domain may seem like the safest option, but doesn’t help you meet the guideline to cut your budget. CSC’s Four-Step Holistic Digital Optimization Framework is designed to examine a client’s digital assets, including auditing (so you know what you own) and domain name portfolio rationalization for a better management and better return on investment.

Undertaking digital optimization alone is a challenge that many companies face. In a merger or acquisition, this challenge is compounded when different departments take over existing accounts or employees leave the company with their knowledge (and passwords). When a business is unaware of the full extent of its digital footprint, it risks abandoning the areas that matter, and therefore increases the risk of cyber attacks.

CSC’s methodology makes the whole process easier and allows us to overcome one of the biggest challenges: identifying the most vital areas of a business. CSC Security Center®, our proprietary tool based on advanced algorithms, helps identify the most vital areas, taking the guesswork out of the process, and ensuring that critical areas and those with a digital footprint are never abandoned.

Our digital optimization approach looks at a client’s trademark rights, the markets in which they operate, and even goes so far as to consider the ability to reclaim domains from third parties.

  1. This article originally appeared on Digital Brand Insider.


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