your website be stolen?
Can your website be stolen?
Many individuals and businesses have a web site but
few understand their rights to the ownership of that site, or their
responsibility to maintain that ownership. I bring this up because
of a call I received last week from an individual whose website
They went on the Internet the other day to look at
their website and something completely different appeared. Someone
else was using their name and promoting a completely different product
than the original owners had. In this example, no crime was committed.
I will explain.
When you create a website, there are three costs involved. The
first is the purchase of your domain name or URL as it is sometimes
referred. This is the unique address you type into the browser to
find your site such as www.yourname.com or www.buymystuff.net.
These can be purchased from hundreds of sites on the Internet and
are not that expensive. You can purchase these for a minimum of
one year and for multiple years if desired. Once purchased, your
domain need to be “pointed to” the physical computer
that your website will reside on.
The second cost involved is the purchase of the hosting package.
This is the money you pay to rent a space on one of the thousands
of web servers located all over the world. There are free hosting
packages available but they have their disadvantages and I won’t
go into that here.
Most people host their site on an ISP (Internet Service Provider)
that is in their geographical area although there is no reason not
to host on a server half way around the world, if it is a good,
inexpensive, and reliable hosting server.
The third cost is to have your website created and maintained by
a website designer of your choosing. Many people like to do this
part themselves and there are many programs and books out there
to help you create your own website.
Many times the customer will have a website designer take care
of all three steps for them and just pay one fee. The web designer
sends your website from his computer where he/she created it up
to the server and can take care of all the details regarding #1
and #2 above.
Here is where you need to be a good consumer and know a little
more about the process.
You are the owner of your domain name and the owner of your website.
Although most people grant their website designer or website administrator
the power to control all of this, and although most people do not
understand the technicalities of domains and hosting packages, you
should still have all the details readily available.
If you have a business website and delegated any of the work involved
in setting it up to another person, you should still maintain complete
control over its future.
Whether you or someone else purchases the domain name for your
website (the www.yourname.com), make certain that you have the contact
details from the company it was purchased from, and the corresponding
username and password to access control over the domain's use.
Most importantly, make sure you are listed as the registered owner
of the website, not the person or company that is creating your
website for you. All registered domains have four contact individuals
listed on the Internet.
Your web administrator can be listed as the technical contact or
the administrative contact but you need to be listed as the registered
owner. This way, if any changes are made to the status of the domain,
you are informed as well, and you should be notified when the domain
name is about to expire.
This is how my friends’ website was “stolen”.
He was not listed as the owner, and the design company that was
listed as the owner went out of business. When the domain name expired
(remember, you purchase these for a limited time and then have to
renew), the owner did not know it and that particular domain name
became available for anyone else to purchase – legally.
Thus, my friends website was not really stolen. He was the victim
About the Author
George McKee writes
a twice-monthly, computer and Internet related article in the Algarve
Resident, a newspaper for the English speaking residents of the
Algarve region of Portugal. He also operates, with his business
partner, http://www.grafica-link.com, a web hosting and design firm
in southern Portugal. He can be contacted at email@example.com
or at his little corner of the website http://www.graficalink.com/bytedoctor.htm