Cyberclinic: Help! Someone has hijacked my homepage

Having just lost control of my domain name, can you advise how to avoid cybersquatters?

Domain names, the core part of the web and e-mail addresses that we type every day, are big business. Competition for memorable ones is strong, and even competition for ones that are a hamfisted mistype away from being memorable is pretty feverish. As per the column concerning web hosting a few weeks ago, it's clear that the process of registering and hanging on to a domain is shrouded in mystery for many - and where there's mystery, there's usually a few people getting ripped off.

The first sound piece of advice comes from Jim Player: "Don't automatically buy domain names from your ISP, or your web-hosting provider. If your relationship with them sours, they could be at risk." Indeed, it has recently taken me a year to get full control of a domain name I registered some years ago; in the end my impatience with the company in question forced me to cough up a completely unnecessary "transferring fee".

The lesson is clear: go with a seller that offers direct and transparent access to all the settings related to your domain name - renewal, transfers and hosting. Shop around, and seek recommendations; easydns.com and dreamhost.com are two US-based services with a no-nonsense approach.

It's a cut-throat, first-come-first-served world, and Jayne Brookes points out - from her own bitter experience - that you should keep that domain idea to yourself. "Then, if you find that it's available, just buy it. It should only cost between £5 and £15 for one year, and you can bet that if you don't buy it today, someone else will tomorrow."

Of course, there are unscrupulous types who register domains in the hope of levering more money out of people they know will pay up - the dreaded cybersquatters - but they're not the kind of people you should be doing business with. If that domain name is central to your business plan, consider changing the plan. If you believe you have a legal right to the name, the registrar of the domain will have a dispute resolution department - but the process will inevitably involve lengthy legal wrangling.

Once you've bought the domain, remember that you have merely hired it from the registry. Paul Lomax from Fibranet, whose freeparking.co.uk domain service is highly rated, has a word of advice for keeping hold of your domain purchase; simply don't forget to renew it. "The easiest way to lose a domain is to change your e-mail address and forget to tell the registrar. We try to help by reminding people to keep their details updated, and ironically we get a handful of customers complaining that they don't want junk mail from us! You can't win."

Diagnosis required

Next week's question comes from Al Blackmore:

"I've watched hours of material on YouTube, but I'd like to get involved as a producer of content, rather than a passive consumer. What are the procedures and pitfalls?" Any comments, and new questions for the Cyberclinic, should be e-mailed to cyberclinic@independent.co.uk.

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice