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Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered?

The post Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered? appeared first on HostGator Blog . Think your business is too small to be targeted by hackers? Think again. Last year, 43% of all reported data breaches affected small businesses —and the costs of recovering from a breach are high enough to force many small businesses to close. So, if you’ve recently launched your SMB website or are getting ready to launch, make sure you’ve got these 8 cybersecurity basics nailed down. 1. Domain Privacy There are so many things to love about the internet, but spammers, identity thieves, and stalkers are not among them. You can protect yourself with a domain privacy plan that shields your name, email, mailing address, and phone number from people who look up your site in the ICANN’s Whois database.  2. SSL Certificate An SSL certificate is a must-have if you run an eCommerce store or collect visitor information on your site. That’s because an SSL certificate proves that any data your visitors send to your site is encrypted, so hackers can’t see it while it’s in transit. (You can read a more detailed SSL explanation here.) SSL certificates also keep visitors from seeing a browser warning that your site may not be secure. Plus, they may also help your site rank better in search results. 3. Automatic Site Backups If your business website site is hacked, or if an update crashes it, you need a way to get up and running again fast so you don’t miss out on customers. Get an automatic site backup service like CodeGuard , and you can quickly restore the most recent uncorrupted version of your site if something goes wrong. Make sure that whichever service you choose runs daily backups, so you don’t have to go back to an out-of-date site version in case of a crash.  4. Automatic Malware Scans and Removals Thanks to cybercriminals armed with botnets and malicious code, all sites are continuously at risk for malware injections that can steal data and let criminals take over sites. This means site owners need to monitor their sites closely for attacks. And the only practical way to do this is with automatic scans. A site-scanning tool like SiteLock gives you daily protection from new malware and botnet attacks. SiteLock also seeks out vulnerabilities on your site, so you can fix them before hackers exploit them. 5. Automatic Domain Renewals Domain registrations don’t last forever. At some point—anywhere between one and 5 years from when you first sign up–you’ll need to renew. If you don’t, you can lose control of your business domain name, and anyone who comes along and buys up your expired domain may be able to access the email accounts on it. That could open you and your customers up to data theft and fraud. The best way to prevent this is to enable automatic renewals, either when you register your domains or during your next renewal. You may also be able to switch to automatic renewals now by logging into your domain registration account and adjusting your billing preferences. (HostGator customers, here’s how you can renew your domain registration.) 6. Automatic WordPress, Plugin and Theme Updates On the internet, you have to stay up to date. That includes WordPress software and the plugins, themes, and addons you choose for your SMB site. Why not stick with the old versions if they’re working for you? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is security.  Some updates are designed to patch flaws that hackers have shown they can exploit. So, when updates are announced, you need to install them right away. But updates don’t always come out on a schedule, and if you have a large site with lots of plugins, updating manually can be a hassle that’s too easy to postpone. The solution is to set WordPress and everything else on your site—themes, plugins, etc.—to update automatically. You can do this within most apps, or you can use a WordPress security plugin like Easy Updates Manager to handle it all for you. 7. Seriously Secure Passwords One of the simplest ways to protect your SMB website is to use a unique, secure WordPress password that would-be hackers are unlikely to guess. Make sure that any employees or contractors who have access to your site use secure, unique passwords, too.  You might think this goes without saying, but even in 2019, too many people are still using passwords like 123456 , monkey, and blink182. 8. Site Login Protection Login forms on your site make it easy for customers to sign into their accounts with your store or business. These forms also create potential weak spots where attackers can break in. In simple terms, a bot-powered brute force attack can try thousands of possible login credentials to try to get past a login form. If they find a way in, they can unleash malware, ransomware, or other mayhem to disrupt your business. To keep bad actors and botnet attacks from experimenting with logins until they find a way in, add some layers of protection to your sign-in forms.  One option is to limit the number of login attempts a user can make in one session. For example, after three failed attempts, the user is locked out of trying again until they contact your tech support team for more guidance. This lets legitimate customers get the help they need and prevents bot-powered brute force logins. Another option is one you probably see every day. Ask visitors to prove they’re not a robot when they sign in with a reCAPTCHA tool. The Contact Form 7 plugin lets you enable reCAPTCHA , or you can install a different reCAPTCHA plugin for the forms on your site. Yes, it’s an extra step for your site visitors, but one that can keep your visitors and your business safe from bot-powered data theft. Now that you know the cybersecurity basics, are you ready to set up your site?  HostGator’s Managed WordPress Hosting plans come with CodeGuard, SiteLock, and SSL certificates for free and make it easy to buy domain privacy services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Use a Domain Name Checker to Check Domain Availability

The post How to Use a Domain Name Checker to Check Domain Availability appeared first on HostGator Blog . Finding the perfect domain name for your new website can be a little tricky. Not only do you need a domain that perfectly represents your website, but you need to ensure it’s short, catchy, memorable, and actually available. Luckily, there’s a number of tools that’ll help you not only uncover the perfect domain name, but also ensure it’s available. Below you’ll learn how to find the right domain name for your website, and how to use a domain name checker to help speed up the process of locking down your dream domain. Finding the Right Domain Name There’s a lot that goes into a domain name. Your domain needs to succinctly sum up what your site is about while being catchy and easy to remember. Your domain will define your brand and be the first thing that visitors see. As a result, your domain will create either a good or bad impression of your website. Here are some tips for finding the best possible domain name for your new website: 1. Connect Your Brand to Your Domain Name You want your domain name to be a differentiator. Having a unique domain name will always be better than a generic domain that sounds all-too-similar to competing sites. When you’re launching a brand, chances are you’re doing something different than the competition. Make sure that your domain name reflects this. For example, think of sites like Google, DropBox, Zillow, Facebook. All of these sites have unique and memorable names. Whether you’re creating new words from scratch or combining two unrelated words, one thing is for sure: they stick in your mind. 2. Keep the Character Count Low As a general rule, the shorter the domain name, the better . It might be very difficult to find a shorter domain name as most of these were purchased a long time ago. But, you still might be able to find a unique word or combination of words that are still available. When in doubt, go for something memorable over something long. Think about when you’re telling your friend about a website. For example, they’re more likely to remember catgram.com over picturesthatiloveaboutcats.com. 3. Make Your Domain Easy to Pronounce Your domain name needs to be easy to remember, and part of that is making it easy to pronounce. When someone thinks about your domain name, they shouldn’t have to look it up in a dictionary to get the spelling right. You want to make it easy for other people to pass on your domain name, whether that’s written or spoken. 4. Avoid Numbers, Hyphens, and Other Characters A memorable site name can go a long way towards helping your site gain traction. One quick way to make things more difficult is by adding hyphens or numbers to your domain name. Hyphens not only make it more difficult to pass on your domain, but it’ll probably lead to a lot of misspellings and people not being able to find your site. For example, what’s easier to remember and type into your browser? C-N-N.com or CNN.com. Or how about Face-book.com, or Facebook.com? The same goes for numbers. Adding numbers to your domain can come across as spammy and much more difficult to pass on. What’s a Domain Name Checker? Domain name checkers are tools that help you to determine if a domain name is still available . Often, these tools can also suggest other related domain names, along with presenting other domain name extensions that might be available under your chosen domain name. There are also other related domain finder tools that are more focused on helping you generate unique domain names, while at the same time searching for availability. Domain Name Checker Overview There are a myriad of different domain name checkers you can use to see if a given domain is available for purchase. Most domain name registrars will have these tools built into their domain search tools. After all, it’ll be impossible to buy a domain if it isn’t actually available. However, you might also come across domains that have been previously purchased or are currently owned by another party. Still, you can purchase these domains, but expect to pay a great deal more than a fresh domain. Here’s a breakdown of a few different domain name checkers you can use: 1. HostGator Domains HostGator Domains is not only a domain name registrar, but it’ll tell you which domains are available, and even offer suggestions for similar domains. With this domain name checker you can quickly see if your domain of choice is available and get it registered right away. Plus, you can pick up quality web hosting at the same time and start building your new site right away. 2. LeanDomainSearch LeanDomainSearch is another pretty helpful domain lookup tool. All you have to do is enter a keyword that you want to build your domain around, and this tool will do the rest. If you’re stumped for ideas then this tool will help you get started. For example, here’s a sample search for the word ‘house’. From that simple word, we’ve got over 400 different domains to look at and draw inspiration from. 3. DomainHole DomainHole is a search tool that allows you to find a very specific type of domain. Whether you’re looking for a new domain or an aged domain for SEO or other purposes, this tool is worth exploring. You’ll be able to search for expired, expiring, or dropped domains, plus with the extensive search filters you’ll be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. 4. Knowem Knowem should be used in conjunction with another domain checker tool, but it’s still just as valuable. If you’re going to be creating social media profiles for your new website, then this tool will check to see what social media profiles are available. Even if you aren’t going to be using social media right away, it can be helpful to still grab any existing social media handles for future use. What to Do if a Domain Isn’t Available? Let’s say you’ve found the perfect domain name, but when you run it through a domain name checker, it comes up as unavailable . This doesn’t mean that your search should end there. In some cases, you might be able to place a bid on the domain or even pick up a different domain name extension. Here are these two options in a little more depth: 1. Placing a Domain Name Bid Sometimes the domain you want will already be owned by someone else. If the domain isn’t being used for an existing website or application, then you can usually get in touch with the owner and place a bid on the domain. For example, here’s the website of a domain name that someone else owns. You have the option to reach out and purchase the domain. Keep in mind that the owner might not always respond, or they might want more than you’re willing to spend. Generally, when you place a bid you’ll be spending a couple of hundred bucks at the very minimum. Sometimes these domains will run up into multiple thousands of dollars. For example, take a look at some of these domains offered on Sedo . Overall, the price of domains will go up the simpler they are. You’d be hard pressed to find a single word domain of a dictionary word for less than a few grand. If you’re placing a bid on a domain name, expect a little negotiation back and forth until you land on the selling price. 2. Choosing a Different Domain Name Extension The most common domain name extensions are .com, .org, and .net. But, that doesn’t mean your search should end, just because these extensions aren’t available. In some cases, a different domain extension might even work better, but overall it depends on the type of site you’re running. When considering a different domain name extension, keep the following questions in mind: Does the extension I want belong to an existing website? If I choose another extension will it work with my brand? Can I get a different extension that doesn’t feel like spam? Is the new extension memorable? Overall, if the domain is taken by a website that’s currently live on the internet, then you’ll want to choose a new domain name. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of copyright infringement and run into all kinds of legal issues. This headache isn’t worth it, and your time is better spent coming up with a new domain. However, if your first choice domain name extension is taken, but isn’t being used for a website you could get away with using another extension. For example, I really wanted a domain name, but the .com was already taken but wasn’t being used for anything at all, so I went with the .net version. This allows you to start building your site if you’re absolutely attached to a given domain name, while in time you can acquire any other extensions with the profits from your new site. How to Register a Domain Name Once you’ve found the perfect domain name that’s actually available, then it’s time for the easy part. Registering your domain. If you were using the HostGator Domains tool to search for the availability of a domain, then you’re already halfway there. Just, add your domain to your cart, and complete the checkout steps. Here’s a brief walkthrough just in case: 1. Navigate to HostGator Domains Here you can enter your domain name that you want to purchase. You can enter your domain with or without your desired extension. 2. Input Your Domain First, input your domain name and click ‘Search’. If the domain name is available, then you’ll get the message ‘Congratulations, Your Domain is Available!” This will automatically add your domain to your cart, and all you have to do is click ‘Continue to Cart’ and complete your purchase. 3. Select Your Terms When you register a domain name you’re going to have a lot of different options to choose from. For example, you can add things like domain privacy . You’ll also select the term for which you want to register your domain. Overall, the cheapest option will always be to register your domain for the longest term offered. You’ll be spending more up front, but the monthly rate will typically be much lower than paying a yearly fee and having to renew every single year. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about accidentally letting your domain lapse. Get Started with Domain Name Checkers Hopefully, you have a better idea of what to look for in new domain name for your site, plus how to use a domain name checker to actually see if your dream domain is available. Getting a domain name isn’t a process you’ll want to rush. Spend some time with the domain name checkers above until you find a great domain that speaks to the core of what your site’s about, while remaining memorable and catchy. Then, when you’re ready, you can register your domain right here at HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Transfer a Domain

The post How to Transfer a Domain appeared first on HostGator Blog . There are a multitude of reasons you’ll want to transfer your domain. Maybe you’ve sold a domain, or bought one for a gift? Or, you could be unsatisfied with your current registrar and are looking to migrate? Whether you’re transferring ownership of your domain or migrating to a new registrar, there are certain steps you’ll need to follow. Although it might seem fairly technical, this process exists for a reason—to help ensure that your domain remains in the right hands. Below we look at the things to look for in a new domain name registrar, as well as the processes you need to follow to transfer a domain name to a new registrar, or another party entirely. Why Transfer a Domain? As you learned in the introduction, there are plenty of reasons you might want to transfer a domain name. The most common is because you’re frustrated with your current registrar. Maybe the yearly renewal rate is too expensive? Or, you’re looking for a registrar with more features? For example, by using a domain name registrar like HostGator you can group your domain name and hosting all under one roof. This simplifies the technical steps of setting up your website, as well as the number of invoices you’ll have to remember to renew. There’s nothing worse than letting an important domain lapse because you forget to check in and missed the renewal date. Or, you could have sold a domain , or bought a domain for a friend. In this scenario, you’ll be switching the ownership of the domain along with transferring the domain to their registrar of choice. Whatever your reason we’ll walk you through both processes in the final section below. If you’re not in the market for a new registrar yourself, then feel free to skip to the final section of this post. What to Look for in a New Domain Registrar If you’re transferring your domain because you’re dissatisfied with your current domain name registrar, then you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to make the same mistake twice. Which means you’ll want to make sure your new registrar is high-quality and won’t lead to the same headaches you’re currently experiencing. Here are a few key things to look for as you search for the perfect domain name registrar: 1. Total Feature Set Every registrar will have different features. Some registrars will only offer domain name purchase and management, while others will provide an entire suite of different services. Common features include domain name management , renewal, transfer, and domain privacy protection via WHOIS. However, other registrars will also offer bundled website hosting, website builders, email management and a lot more. If you want your hosting and domain name management all under one roof, then you’ll need a registrar that also offers hosting. Plus, you’ll need to make sure that the host is also very high quality. Make a list of what non-negotiable features you need in a registrar and compare this with the feature set of the registrar you want to switch to. 2. User Friendliness There’s no point in transferring registrars if it’s going to be very difficult to use. You’ll want it to be very easy to manage your domain names, purchase a new domain name , switch over the nameservers to your host, add privacy protection, and a lot more. The last thing you want is to have to spend hours setting up your domain names, just because the platform isn’t easy to use. For this reason, it can be helpful to look for a domain registrar that’s oriented towards beginners, as generally it’ll be much easier to navigate and will use less confusing terminology. Also, look out for tutorials, blog posts, and other helpful information that’ll help save you time and set up your domains the right way. 3. Customer Support You might not need to use customer support all the time, but when you do, you’ll want them to be responsive and helpful. When you’re having issues with your domain name, or any of the associated services, you’ll want a support team that can help you out as fast as possible. For example, if your domain is currently offline for some reason, you’ll want support to be able to quickly resolve this issue. It can be helpful to get in touch with customer support before you decide to move registrars. This will help you get a feel for the quality and responsiveness of the support team before you migrate. Also, make sure they provide the support channels that you prefer to use, whether that’s live chat or phone. At HostGator, we offer 24/7 Live Chat and phone support every day of the year. 4. Domain Protection When using a registrar you’ll want to make sure that your domains are secure and there are features in place to help protect your purchase. For example, is WHOIS privacy protection included free of charge? Will you be notified before your domain name expires ? Are there additional privacy and protection services you can purchase? Beyond protecting your purchase and ensuring that your domain will always remain in your possession (as long as you want it), you’ll want to make sure there are features that allow for the safe transfer of your domain name. Here are a few domain transfer features to look for: Authorization codes. These codes help to ensure that whoever is transferring your domain has permission to do so. Transfer locks. These help to ensure that your domain name can never be transferred to another party without your permission. Transfer confirmation emails. These emails will require authentication to make sure that you’re transferring the domain to the right party. 5. Overall Price Finally, you’ll want to consider the price of the new registrar. Price is important, but it shouldn’t be the main factor in deciding to pick a new registrar. Choosing based upon price alone can leave you with a low-quality registrar that’ll end up being detrimental to your website as a whole. When examining the price of a new registrar make sure you consider any additional fees. Some registrars will include services for free that others will charge an add-on fee for. Some registrars will have very low introductory rates but jump up tremendously when it’s time to renew. Find a domain registrar within your budget, but don’t let price be the sole determining factor in your selection. How to Transfer a Domain The general process for transferring a domain will be similar no matter what registrar you’re using. Below we’ll show you how to transfer a domain, whether you’re migrating to a new registrar, or you’re moving your domain to another party. 1. Transfer a Domain to Another Registrar Moving your domain to a new registrar isn’t difficult, but there’s a series of steps you’ll have to complete. These steps exist in order to protect the domain that you own. But, if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, then here’s how you can transfer your domain to a new registrar. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to assume you’re moving your domain over to HostGator. Before we dive in there’s an important point to cover. You can only transfer a domain if it’s been in your possession for 60 days. If you’ve owned your domain for more than 60 days, then you’re good to go. If not, then bookmark this post and come back in 60 days. 1. Prepare for the Transfer The first thing you’ll need to do is disable the existing protection protocols and prepare your domain name for a transfer. If you want a smooth transfer process, then make sure you do the following: Update your nameservers to reflect your new host (if you’re also migrating your hosting ) Disable your WHOIS privacy protection, if it’s currently enabled Make sure that your domain contact information is up to date Unlock your domain name at your current registrar Obtain your EPP authorization code, you might have to reach out to your current registrar to obtain this Now, your domain is successfully prepared and ready for transfer. 2. Start the Domain Transfer Initiating the transfer process with HostGator is easy. Head over to the HostGator Transfer page and enter the domain name you want to transfer. This tool will then run through the pre-transfer checklist to make sure that you’ve satisfied all of the requirements. If there are any issues with the domain you want to transfer then these will be displayed in the pop-up box. If everything is good to go, then you’ll be able to complete the transfer. To finalize the transfer you’ll need to pay for a yearly registration at your new registrar. Since you’re using HostGator, just click the ‘Continue to Checkout’ button. Here you’ll enter your billing information and complete your purchase. Once you’ve submitted payment the transfer process will begin. 3. Verify the Domain Transfer To complete the domain transfer you’ll need to go through the email verification process to ensure you’re transferring the domain to the right person. Navigate to the email inbox for the email address that’s associated with the current domain. You should see a verification email. Here you’ll need to enter your EPP key or your authorization code. Once this has been verified the transfer process will be done. Now you just have to wait for the transfer process to finish. 2. Transfer a Domain to Another Party If you’re currently using HostGator for your domains and you want to transfer your domain to another third party, then following the steps below: 1. Unlock Your Domain and Prepare for Transfer In order to transfer your domain, you’ll need to prepare your domain for transfer. To do this navigate to your control panel and head over to the ‘Domains’ tab. Then, select the domain name you want to transfer and unlock the domain. Then, turn off privacy protection, if you have it enabled. If the person you’re transferring the domain to has another host enabled, then you’ll need to point the nameservers to the new host. But, if not, then you can leave the nameservers alone. Finally, you’ll need to obtain the EPP/Authorization Code from the ‘Transfer EPP’ tab. With all of this, you’re now ready to initiate the transfer. 2. Confirm the Third-Party Transfer The transfer will need to be initiated by the third party who’s accepting the domain name. This will be done from their own account on their registrar of choice. Once the transfer has been initiated you’ll need to log back into your Domain Manager and accept the transfer. To finalize the transfer you should receive a confirmation email that deals with identity confirmation and your EPP codes. Domain Transfer FAQ Hopefully, the above information covered the process in depth, but you still might have a few questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions related to a domain transfer. How long will the domain transfer process take? In total, the transfer should be completed in 5-7 days. This is the standard allotment, but usually, the domain will be switched over prior to that. But, if you have any issues, then it might take a bit longer to resolve everything. How long does it take to initiate a domain transfer? Preparing the domain and initiating the transfer shouldn’t take long at all. At most, it should take an hour or two. You should set aside some time to do the transfer without any interference. If you wait too long the security codes might expire, so you’ll want to everything at the same time. Can domain information be altered during a transfer? No. That’s why you’ll need to make sure all of the contact information, especially the contact email, is correct before you initiate the transfer. You can only change the domain contact information once the transfer is complete. If you need to change any domain information while the transfer is taking place you’ll need to get in touch with customer support. Ready to Transfer Your Domain? Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the domain transfer process and everything it takes to properly migrate a domain name. If you’re switching to a new domain registrar, then the information above should help point you in the right direction. Transfer your domain to HostGator today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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