Nearly every company in the modern era has a website. This site, sometimes called a web application, functions as the information center for the business. Keeping your website active is critical for ensuring that your customers and prospects can access the information they need. Maintaining a website also creates brand presence and strong search engine optimization (SEO), which helps businesses to build trust and credibility in their industry.

Every website has a top-level domain (the URL that people use to access the website) that is registered with a domain name registrar. The registrar routes your website's machine-readable IP address to the human-readable domain name using a Domain Name System (DNS). Using a top-level domain (TLD) improves your users' ability to access your site since they won't need to memorize the string of numbers that comprise your IP address. Your TLD also protects your IP address from IP-related risk exposure.

To support your customers with on-demand service and to protect your brand value, you should track your domain as an asset and ensure that you are aware of any potential risks or issues that could impact customer usage, like an upcoming domain expiry date.

Common Domain Expiration Risks

Once you have registered your domain with a reliable domain name registrar, you will need to maintain your registration after the term duration. It's important to keep track of your domain's registration status so that your site remains available to users and does not expire. Some domain registrars offer multi-year terms or automatic renewal.

You can use a continuous monitoring tool like UpGuard BreachSight to automate your domain asset management. BreachSight identifies vulnerabilities in your external attack surface and other risks impacting your domains, including domain expiration.

UpGuard BreachSight notifies you of the following findings related to your domain's expiration:

  • Domain expires soon
  • Domain expired

Domains must be renewed within specified intervals to maintain ownership of the name, otherwise your ownership expires and the domain name becomes available to others. If you receive the Domain expires soon notification, you can renew your domain registration to maintain site access and protect your brand ownership. If you receive the Domain expired notification, you should take immediate action to renew your domain and configure auto-renewal for future expirations. Most domain registrars offer a 30-day grace period for the domain owner to renew an expired domain name before it becomes available to third parties.

If your domain is inactive or otherwise pending with your registrar, BreachSight will notify you with these risk findings:

  • Domain flagged as inactive
  • Domain pending deletion
  • Domain pending restoration

If your registered domain includes an [.rt-script]Inactive[.rt-script] status code, it does not have name servers associated and will not be publicly accessible on the internet. In this case, create nameserver (NS) records that connect your domain to the appropriate IP address.

For domains that are pending deletion or restoration, you may need to contact your registrar about the status code as it pertains to your domain registration. A [.rt-script]pendingDelete[.rt-script] code means that your domain will be available for public purchase within a few days. A [.rt-script]pendingRestore code[.rt-script] means that you have requested restoration within the grace period for renewal and the registry is pending documentation to finalize the renewal.

In addition to domain expiration risks, UpGuard can also monitor typosquatting that targets variations of your domain name.

If you receive one of these domain findings, take action to resolve the issue.

How to Resolve Domain Expiration Findings

If your domain has expired or may expire soon, you should renew your domain as soon as possible. If your provider offers auto-renewal, you can enable that billing process to ensure that your site remains available to your users and prospective customers.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires that your domain registrar send two renewal reminders with the expiration date of your domain to the registrant email provided. A continuous monitoring tool like UpGuard BreachSight will also monitor your domain's proximity to expiration.

An accredited domain registrar typically offers a grace period after expiration during which time you can renew your domain without others being able to acquire your domain name. Ensure that you have updated your billing information to pay your renewal fee and avoid incurring additional fees.

If your domain has been deleted, an accredited registrar must provide a 30-day period during which time the domain may be restored (known as the redemption grace period). Restoration during the redemption grace period may be subject to redemption fees. After the five-day redemption period ends, the domain name becomes available for re-registration, whether by the initial registrant or a separate party, on a first-come first-served basis. Note that these rules apply to the ICANN regulations for top-level domains and do not apply to country code TLDs (ccTLDs).

To prevent your domain from lapsing, you can use an automated tool like BreachSight to remain aware of your assets and any upcoming expirations.

How UpGuard Can Help

The BreachSight Domains module is your hub for managing your domain assets. UpGuard automatically identifies and monitors your organization's domains, including both active and inactive domains.

Current UpGuard users can log in and access the Domains module to review their domains. You can filter the domains by a specific risk finding (such as the domain expiry checker), or search for individual notifications in your Risk Profile.

If you're not a current UpGuard user and you want to run an automated scan of your domains with BreachSight, sign up for a trial.

How to Renew Your Domain

Each domain registrar has a slightly different user experience so be sure that you check your specific registrar for the requisite renewal actions or other domain name registration needs. Your domain registrar should be accredited with ICANN. Navigate to the domain renewal area for the following commonly used domain registrars:

  • Squarespace offers an annual automatic renewal for domains that can be managed from the Domains area of your account.
  • Google Domains are being transferred to Squarespace.
  • GoDaddy offers an automatic renewal or a manual renewal that can be managed from your Domain Portfolio.
  • Bluehost domains can be renewed from the Renewal Center of your account.
  • HostGator domains can be managed from the Customer Portal with auto-renewal or manual renewal.
  • DNSimple domains are set up with auto-renewal by default but can also be renewed manually in the Domains section.

Enable auto-renewal and ensure that you have set up notification reminders about your domain's expiration date.

Renewal prices and registration fees also vary by the registrar. If you are dissatisfied with your registrar and prefer to change to a different one, you will need to disable your domain transfer lock, then initiate a transfer from the administrative interface of your new provider. You will need to verify the transfer with the appropriate confirmation activity.

If you make any changes to your name servers or wish to register a new domain, you will also need to update the domain's DNS records with your hosting provider. Each cloud service provider offers a unique portal for managing DNS records, and many providers offer a CLI or API method for updating your DNS records. Be sure to check your provider's documentation for guidance on how to update your DNS records and maintain uptime stability.

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