Domain Name Poaching & Your Business

This is what is called Domain Name Front Running (DNFR) and is a pretty underhanded tactic.

One of the biggest decisions when getting your business online is deciding on the domain name. Many a beginning online entrepreneur may just type in URL’s into their browser or at their usual domain registrar to see if it is taken. Then after some searching, they find the right one and as luck would have it, the domain is available to be registered. Guess what, that perfect domain you found free from use is about to be scooped up. Unfortunately, if the budding business owner isn’t quick enough that perfect domain is going to be bought and setup to be resold at a higher price before you have a chance to even blink.

What kind of shenanigans is this? This is what is called Domain Name Front Running (DNFR) and is a pretty underhanded tactic. There are few reasons why this would take place:

  1. To extort money from the person who originally intended to register the name by making them pay to get it.
  2. To steal the idea of the business from the person who originally intended to register the name.
  3. To block or disrupt the business or project of the person who originally intended to register the name.
  4. To utilize the traffic that the name generates.

So where did this come from? Back before ICANN, in 2009, made changes to how large-scale registrar’s handled domain name returns. Companies like GoDaddy and their like could buy up mass amounts of domains, which is called tasting, with the intent to sell off the domains at a larger profit. Each domain sold this way would see the price increase from $6 USD to $10USD shoot up to $50 USD or more (Some domains can go for as much as $10,000 USD). ICANN made this business practice much less appealing since after a certain percentage of domains are returned by the registrar, they take on further charges for each registration then on.

So, what should a person do to keep this from happening? Certainly, you wouldn’t want to do the following:

  • Use smaller search engines that are prone to sell any possible data to generate revenue,
  • Use browser plugins or extensions that send data through third-party systems, and
  • Use WHOIS lookup services that are not trusted.

Finally, there is also just typing into the browser that can be a problem. Non-existent Domain (NXD) Data is a response the DNS system tells the asking computer if resolution on an IP address fails because the domain doesn’t exist. In layman terms, you searched for the domain by typing it into your browser like you would any other website, it comes back as nothing there, this data is then saved by the ISP which can be sold off to companies that run DNFR businesses or sell the data to other DNFR establishments.

Luckily there are some options to make use of to avoid this kind of headache. Use of ICANN’s InterNIC allows one to do a WHOIS search without any worry that a registrar is looking at your searches. The other option is finding a company that doesn’t support this sort of business model. Cherry Host could be that logical choice.

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