In 2013, thousands of users of X (then known as Twitter) were bemused or horrified to various degrees to see that profile images and cover images of several users had been updated to Syrian-themed imagery. On investigation, it turned out that Twitter’s domains and DNS were attacked and used to redirect users to a phishing website. This website was used to steal the Twitter login credentials of over 250,000 users.
No business can afford to put its sensitive intellectual property or customer information at risk due to vulnerabilities in its domain name management practices or the variety of other cybersecurity risk surfaces that exist in every organization today.
Securing the business in cyberspace
Enterprise cybersecurity is the practice of protecting an organization’s systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks through risk assessments, security controls, and well-defined incident response plans. No enterprise cybersecurity effort is complete without extensive plans to secure the digital footprint of the organization.
Your domain name is part of the foundation of your digital footprint. This is as true for a small business or start up looking to make waves, as it is for a multinational organization looking to improve its cybersecurity risk profile.
Domain names are the digital identities of all the products and brands that make up a business. It’s the address customers, investors, employees and just about anyone uses to find your websites, email, and other online services. As such, it’s essential to protect your domain names from unauthorized access and misuse.
Domain name security is the practice of implementing measures to protect your domain name from cyber threats. This includes things like using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, limiting access, and keeping your domain registration information up to date.
Why domain name security is crucial for large businesses
First, cyber-attacks are continuously evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated – and domain names, as the face of brands online, are a prime target for attackers.
Second, domain names are often used in phishing attacks. In a phishing attack, attackers send fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to be from a legitimate source. The goal is to trick the recipient into clicking on a malicious link or entering sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
Third, domain names can be used to spread malware. When a user visits a malicious website, malware can be downloaded to their computer without their knowledge or consent. This malware can then be used to steal data, damage the computer, or launch further attacks.
For enterprise-scale businesses, the risks associated with domain name vulnerabilities are even more significant. If a large enterprise’s domain name is compromised, the consequences could include:
- Financial liability and losses: If attackers redirect traffic from the enterprise’s website to a malicious website, customers could be tricked into making fraudulent purchases or entering their financial information into a phishing form. This could lead to significant financial losses for the enterprise, with potential for severe legal repercussions stemming from a patchwork of legislations across different jurisdictions that place the onus of identity theft and fraud on different stakeholders.
- Damage to reputation: If a large enterprise’s domain name is used to send spam or phishing emails, or to launch denial-of-service attacks, the enterprise’s reputation could be irreparably harmed. It is also possible that the threat actor is motivated by ideologies or even simply anarchy, which could result in the brand assets being used to promote abusive or illegal messages, causing lost customers, tarnished brand image and a severe impact on revenue.
- Compliance violations: Many large enterprises are subject to industry regulations, and data privacy laws that require them to protect their customers’ data. If a large enterprise’s domain name is compromised and customer data is stolen, the enterprise could be in violation of these laws and regulations. This could lead to fines, penalties, and other legal consequences. The GDPR in the European Union and the CCPA in California are just two examples, and various jurisdictions are only now catching up to these with their own versions of legislation to impose consequences for lax security practices by businesses that deal with sensitive data.
How to implement domain name security measures for large enterprises
Large enterprises should implement a comprehensive domain name security strategy to protect their domain names from cyber threats. This strategy should include the following measures:
- Use strong passwords and enable two-factor authentication for all domain name accounts.
- Keep domain name registration information up to date.
- Use a reputable corporate domain name registrar.
- Enable domain name locking.
- Implement DNS security measures.
- Use email authentication protocols.
- Implement SSL security measures.
- Monitor domain names for unauthorized changes.
- Scan your domain name portfolio for potential vulnerabilities.
- Have a plan in place to respond to domain name security incidents.
Additional considerations for large enterprises
In addition to the general domain name security measures listed above, large enterprises may also need to consider the following:
- Using an enterprise domain name management solution: A professional managed domain names partner can provide a white-glove service that guarantees industry-leading domain name security protections such as domain registry locks, renewal fail-safes, domain name monitoring, domain hijacking protection and brand protection.
- Segmenting domain names: Large enterprises often have multiple domain names, each for a different business unit and/or purpose (e.g., corporate website, e-commerce website, marketing website). It is a good practice to segment domain names and implement different security measures for each segment, based on the priority and potential impact of a compromise on business and brand outcomes. An enterprise domain management team can help you audit, segment and consolidate your domain portfolio to minimize risks.
- Educating employees about domain name security. Employees are one of the weakest links in the cybersecurity chain, and that is simply because of the phenomenon of social engineering. It is important to educate employees about domain name security risks and best practices.
Domain name security is crucial for large enterprises in today’s digital landscape. By implementing these measures, large enterprises can help to protect their domain names from cyber threats and reduce the risk of serious consequences.
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This is the first article in Webnames Corporate’s new Enterprise Cybersecurity 101 series with a focus on domain name, DNS and SSL protection. Check back in coming weeks to learn more about cybersecurity risks to your organization through the rest of this series and get tips on how to mitigate risks through expert advice and process automation that is both reliable and cost-effective.