Why Domain Privacy Is Important
Maintaining your privacy is harder today than it’s ever been.
Keeping your personal information safe from strangers is a constant challenge, one you have to be vigilant about.
If you own a website though, there’s a good chance your information is out there where anyone can find it – unless you’ve chosen to invest in domain privacy.
What is Domain Privacy?
When you buy a domain name, part of the process is providing your contact information to the company you buy it from. They’re required to pass that information along to the ICANN WHOIS directory.
This is so that there’s a clear record of who owns each website on the web. If something posted on a website breaks a law, there needs to be a way to track down the owner. While there are practical reasons for this directory to exist, there’s obviously a downside to it as well.
Every website owner has the contact information they provide to their domain registration company plastered in a directory where everyone can see it. If you go through life trying to be careful who you provide your personal information to, you may be concerned to learn that just by starting a website that information is out there for anyone to see.
While you’re required to provide your information when you buy the domain, it’s not required that the information be easily accessible on the wide web. You can remove your contact information from the WHOIS directory without running afoul of the law by using a domain privacy service. People who search for your domain in the directory will still see you listed as owner and see an email address they can use to contact you – but they won’t see any other contact information, and the email address will be a proxy one that makes it possible to reach you, but isn’t your actual email address.
3 Reasons Domain Privacy is Worth It
Domain privacy isn’t free. While the cost is fairly low ($14.95 a year with HostGator), if you have limited money to spend, you’ll have to consider if domain privacy is something that’s worth the cost to you. If you’re on the fence, here are three benefits that make the cost well worth it for many website owners.
1. Protect your personal information.
How comfortable are you with the idea of random strangers knowing your address and phone number? Even if it’s a business address and phone number, rather than a personal one, that’s still probably where you spend a lot of your time each day. The possibility that anybody could figure out where to find you with a simple internet search is disconcerting for many people.
In addition to the general discomfort you might feel, there’s the very real risk of identity theft. Every piece of information about you that becomes easily accessible to thieves puts you a little more at risk of identity theft. With high-level businesses showing up in the news for data breaches with increasing frequency, there’s only so much you can do to fully protect yourself, but every little step you can take to make your personal information harder to find can reduce your risk.
2. Reduce spam.
We are all inundated with spam in so many areas of life. Phone calls from strange numbers. Emails from unknown sources shilling products you’d never buy. It seems hard to avoid it completely, but anytime your contact information goes out on the open web, spammers will find it. If your email address and phone number are easily accessible in a directory, you can count on more spam calls and emails because of it. Domain privacy offers you protection from spammers having one more place to find you.
3. Avoid scammers.
If there’s anything worse than spammers, it’s scammers. Internet scams are common and it’s another area where the more people know about you, the more likely you are to be targeted.
And the more information scammers have, the more convincing they can be. If they see your domain registration is about to expire, they can pose as your domain registration company and try to get you to pay them instead of your actual company.
Or they could go the other way and attempt domain hijacking by posing as you to your domain registration company to try to convince them to hand over the keys to your domain. That last part is hard to pull off, since companies have put procedures into place to make domain hijacking very difficult, but having access to your personal information along with details about your domain registration makes pulling off these kinds of scams that much easier.
How to Get Domain Privacy
If you’re ready to add one more level of privacy to your life and website, then investing in domain privacy is pretty simple. Check with your hosting company to see if they offer it as an add-on service. If you use HostGator, all you have to do is:
- Log into your Customer Portal.
- Click on the domain name you want to enable privacy for in order to open the Domain Overview section of the portal.
- Look for the word “Privacy.” You’ll see a red X next to it, indicating you haven’t bought it yet. Click on the word “Change” next to the X.
- Click on the option to select Private on the next page that comes up, and click “Save.”
If you think you want domain privacy, but aren’t sure yet if it’s worth the cost to you, keep an eye on the HostGator site in the coming days. We’ll have a lot of Black Friday deals available this year, including some that will sweeten the deal for adding domain privacy for your website.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.