In this article, we explore what domain privacy protection is and why it matters. 

You’re busy securing your domain. It’s the name you’ve always wanted, so you’re super excited. Then, you notice the option to add domain privacy protection. Wait…  say what, now? Domain privacy protection? 

Well, domain privacy protection is just what it says on the tin: it keeps your privacy safe by protecting your domain name. 

But how does it work? And do you even need it? 

In this article, we’re all over it. By the time you get to the end of this snazzy guide, you’ll know how to get privacy protection for your domain and the glowing benefits of it. First, though, we’ve got to start at the beginning. The basics.

What is Domain Privacy and Protection? 

Domain privacy protection (aka “domain name privacy protection”) is an add-on service that keeps your personal information safe from prying eyes. 

So, your contact details would normally pop up in public WHOIS records. But with our new friend privacy protection people will see your registrar’s details instead. They won’t know who you are, and they won’t be able to contact you directly. And you’re going to see soon enough why this is a huge deal. 

What’s the WHOIS directory, and what’s in it?

When you register a domain, your details go to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for verification. ICANN is very busy and has lots of jobs, including taking care of the domain name system (DNS). They’re almost like the government of the Internet, and you’d better believe domain registrars like OnlyDomains must follow their rules.

One of their rules is that domain ownership information must be available in the WHOIS directory to everyone in the world and their dog (but even with that access, dogs are sadly uninterested in domains). This includes the name and contact details of anyone who registers a domain. 

The WHOIS directory tells the public “who is” the owner of a domain name. The original plan was to crack down on fraud, trademark infringements, and other bad behaviour. But the downside is it leaves domain owners vulnerable to fraud and other nastiness. If you’re a marketer, criminal, or other unsavoury character, personal data can be big bucks. 

What is a WHOIS lookup?

A WHOIS lookup is a vital feature of the WHOIS directory that tells you:

  • Who a domain belongs to
  • How to contact them
  • When they registered the domain
  • When their registration expires
  • Which registrar manages the domain
  • And other important information

ICANN has a free WHOIS lookup service on its website. But you can find WHOIS lookups on heaps of other registrars and third-party websites, including us. It’s as easy as typing a domain name into the search box, clicking “Search”, and voilà. 

Do I Really Need Domain Privacy Protection? 

You’re probably already clued up on the importance of domain names. They’re how people find your website. But once you’ve found one, do you need domain protection, or is it just a marketing ploy by crafty registrars?

No one’s saying you have to have it. But we think domain privacy is worth your time. 

Ask yourself: “Do I really want anyone in the world to be able to see who I am, where I live, and what my email address and phone number are?” If the answer is “No,” then domain privacy protection makes sense. 

And no, we know what you’re thinking. Yes, you: the ones who are wondering if you can get around ICANN by using fake details to register a domain. Party’s over. You can’t. ICANN verifies the information you give, so if it’s false, they’ll cancel your registration. Ouch.

On the other hand, since the wonder of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ICANN has had to put together a Temporary Specification for global TLDs. Basically, this means that they can’t display registrants’ details in WHOIS records without their say-so. 

So, you don’t need domain privacy protection after all, right? 

Well, the key here is that it’s temporary and still developing. Registrars also have a certain amount of say over whether to apply the Temporary Specification to everyone or just EU citizens. 

In other words, it’s best to get your own protection. 

Can everyone see my information? Yikes

Without domain privacy and protection, the amount of personal information people can see about you depends on the type of domain you have (global, country code, or sponsored) and your registrar’s policies. But the worst-case scenario is that everyone can view your:

  • Full name 
  • Email address 
  • Home address 
  • Phone number 

That includes criminals. Eek.

Is Domain Protection Worth It? Five Benefits That Should Make You Snap It Up Right Now

Still asking yourself whether domain privacy protection is worth it? We haven’t given up yet. Check out these five reasons why you should rush out and get it. 

  1. It gives you control over your personal data

First of all, getting domain protection gives you control over your data. You won’t rely on ICANN or anyone else to keep your details private. And that’s a big deal.

If your information is there for all to see, criminals can use it to take advantage of you. Identity theft is a massive headache these days, and not only for you. Imagine if a scammer impersonated you and your customers believed them. And they convince them to part with their hard-earned money. Empty wallets and a damaged reputation for your business. Nightmare scenario.

Some firms are even dodgy enough to scrape publicly available data and sell it to third parties. Very cheeky. You could end up being bombarded with marketing emails trying to sell you the latest bum-lift treatment (even though you’re a man of 70, but hey, we’re not judging here) or even blackmailed by a criminal. Get the picture?

  1. It helps prevent domain hijacking 

Ok, domain hijacking. This is when a criminal uses your details to trick your registrar into handing your domain over to them. They could then sell it, use it to take advantage of your customers, launch phishing attacks, extort you一the list goes on.  

But, hurrah. Domain privacy protection can prevent this. It won’t be a piece of cake for criminals to get their hands on your details, making it harder for them to hijack your domain. 

For a fee, some registrars also offer full domain protection. This includes identity verification for domain transfers. They’ll also let you know straight away if someone tries to change your registration details. Sweet.  

  1. It can stop hacking and other malicious attacks 

We’re not out of the woods yet. It isn’t only domain hijacking you have to worry about. Hackers could also use your details to break into your email account and website. They could then install ransomware and malware to target you and your customers. They could even sell your information to competitors. These guys really are the worst.

You’ve probably heard about some of the high-profile hacks over the years where thousands of customers have had data stolen. This seriously damages trust and puts your customers in danger. But with a private domain, it’s harder for hackers to do. 

  1. It can reduce spam, nuisance calls, and scams

If your phone number and email address are available worldwide, dodgy people can use them to hassle you with nuisance calls and emails. No one wants to be bothered at home, and it could make it harder for the actual calls and emails you want to reach you. Some spam emails also have viruses. What a treat.

Criminals could also use your details to scam you. For example, they could pretend to be your registrar and say your auto-renewal payment didn’t go through. They could then convince you to give them that all-sensitive banking information. Trust us, these guys are awake 24/7 dreaming up new ways to get to you.

  1. It can protect you from stalking and harassment 

Last but not least, protecting your domain can keep you safe from stalking and harassment, including physical and cyberstalking. You don’t have to be Kylie Jenner to be a victim of this.

Say someone has a grudge against you. They could just turn up at your house, and flood you with harassing letters, phone calls, and emails. Burglars and other criminals could also target you. Letters and calls and emails, oh my.

Ok, I’m In. How Does Domain Privacy Protection Work?

When you register a domain, you have to provide certain personal details, including your full name, address, phone number, and email. With domain privacy, people won’t see this information in a WHOIS lookup. Instead, they’ll see “REDACTED FOR PRIVACY.” Your registrar will also show their email address instead of yours. Nice.

If anyone wants to contact you, they’ve got to get past your registrar first. They won’t be able to see your details themselves. But they’ll still be able to see when the domain was registered and when that registration will expire.

Some domain privacy protection plans have extra security measures, like two-factor authentication and identity verification. You could also get extra time to renew an expired domain. 

How Do I Get Domain Privacy? A Step-By-Step Guide

It’s pretty straightforward to get domain privacy protection. Most registrars offer it, and you can get it during and after domain registration. 

Here’s how.

Get domain privacy protection when registering a domain

This is the best time to get privacy protection, as it means you’re covered from day one. These are the steps involved in private domain registration (they may differ depending on registrars).

  1. Create an account with your registrar.
  2. Check the domain name you want is available. If it is, go to step three. If it isn’t, try another one.
  3. Add your domain to the cart and go to checkout. You should end up on the domain registration page. 
  4. Type your details into the fields and submit. Make sure they’re spot-on or ICANN could cancel your registration.
  5. Look for an option to add domain privacy, WHOIS privacy, or something like that. This will either be free or a paid add-on. There could also be different options. For example, basic (free) or full domain protection with extra security features. 
  6. Add your payment information and complete any other on-screen steps to wrap up your domain purchase. 

Add domain privacy protection to an existing domain

If you’ve already registered a domain, don’t panic. You can still add domain protection to keep your details safe. Search for it on your registrar’s website or contact their customer service team to ask what your options are and how to get it. 

If you’re with OnlyDomains, you can add privacy protection by following these four easy-peasy steps.

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Go to “My Registered Domains”.
  3. Click on your domain name.
  4. Under “WHOIS privacy,” click “Enable.”

If there’s no “Enable” button, it means your domain extension doesn’t support WHOIS privacy. Sadly, not all of them do. (You can check which domains support privacy protection here.)

How to Check If Your Domain Privacy Is Enabled: Is This Thing On?

One way to check if you have domain privacy protection is to do a WHOIS lookup. Type your domain name into the search bar and click “Search.” Then, scroll down and see if your name, street, phone number, and so on have “REDACTED FOR PRIVACY” next to them. If they do, your domain is private. Happy days.

If you’re with OnlyDomains, you can also head over to “My Registered Domains,” click on your domain name, and look to see if the “Enable” button under “WHOIS Privacy” is on.

So, How Much Does WHOIS Protection Cost? The Facts

The cost of privacy protection depends on the registrar and the type of protection you’re getting. Some registrars (like OnlyDomains) offer WHOIS protection for free. Others want to see your money. Some also offer free WHOIS privacy but charge for extra security features like identity verification.

But you can usually expect to pay between £0 and £15 per year. 

OnlyDomains Domain Privacy Service Gives You Robust Domain Privacy Protection to Stay Ahead of Threats

Privacy protection might not be your first thought when you buy a domain, but it’s crucial for keeping your personal data safe. Guess what? At OnlyDomains, you can get it for free. And that’s not all…

With over 900 global and local domain endings to choose from, we just know we’ll have the right domain name for you. Already have one? No worries; we offer domain transfer for up to 1,000 domains at once. We also provide a website builder, email address, WordPress hosting, and more. What more could you want?

For more information or to get started, check out our website. 

FAQs About Domain Privacy Protection

Which domain names support domain privacy?

Most domain name extensions support domain privacy, including popular ones like .com, .co, .info, and .org. Most country-code TLDs (like .uk or .us) don’t support it. This depends on the registrar, though. 

How much does domain privacy protection protect site owners?

Without domain privacy protection, you risk your details being out there for the world to see. This includes marketers, hackers, stalkers, burglars, and other nasty types. Domain privacy could protect you (and your customers) from threats like:

  • Domain hijacking
  • Website hacking and malware
  • Spam and nuisance calls
  • Scams, blackmail, extortion
  • Stalking and harassment

Privacy protection features for websites in a nutshell

Domain privacy protection will hide your details in WHOIS records. Some registrars also offer advanced privacy protection features like:

  • Identity verification (to fight domain hijacking)
  • Alerts when someone makes a critical change to your domain
  • Extra time to renew your domain if it accidentally expires
  • Blacklist monitoring and malware scanning
  • Two-factor authentication
  • SSL certificates

What are the benefits of blacklist monitoring and malware scanning?

If your website is blacklisted, it’s a bit like being on Santa’s naughty list. People will think you’re up to no good, meaning your reputation and site traffic will nosedive. Blacklist monitoring lets you check if your website is blacklisted so you can quickly put it right.

Why would your website be blacklisted? One reason is that it’s infected with malware. Luckily, malware scanning can come to the rescue. It monitors your site and alerts you the second it finds any malicious code (like viruses, spyware, and ransomware). You can then get rid of it before it does any serious damage. Phew.

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