DNS Control or Nothing

DNS control means everything to your online presence and I still see avoidable problems all the time. This just happened and I had to drop everything to warn everyone once again. As a domain owner, you need to control a couple things. Short of apocalypse, you need to know these things with absolute certainty.

  • your domain registrar
  • your contact points (phones and email) are current with your registrar
  • where your DNS controls are and how to access them

The first two items manage ownership of your domain name. Don’t give control to anyone you wouldn’t trust with your wallet or your kids. In particular, the second item, keeping your contact information current, will save you hours, if not days, trying to regain control of your name if you need to move or update something. For example, updating mail services or subscribing to online data feeds like an MLS plug-in for realtors. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking about moving your website to us (please do) you will need to keep that information current.

DNS control is the last part of that puzzle. All those directions, where the mail server is located, subdomains you use, sometime even site verifications may have to be done from your DNS records. It is absolutely the heart and soul of your online existence. On the other hand, like a set of keys, they get lost constantly.

Today’s incident involved a website that was once hosted by one of our resellers. The site doesn’t live on our servers anymore, but somehow my name came up. The name servers for the domain were with our technology partner CloudFlare. Security represents a major focus of the services from CloudFlare, we were not going to get much information there, and the email address used to control the account was lost. The simplest solution would be getting control of the CloudFlare account and updating the DNS records, but that’s not possible. Fortunately, the registrar was known to the person who called us.

They are going to have an interesting Memorial Day weekend. Hooking up a new email provider created this pre-weekend panic. The solution involves moving DNS control away from CloudFlare only to hook it all up again manually. I wish them luck.

Please, learn from this post. Share it with any friends who own a domain name and maybe we can save someone else from this fate.

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