Nov 16, 2021 - by Elisa Cooper
Trisha Ytuarte brings nearly a decade of domain-specific experience to her role as Senior Client Success Manager at GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD). She helps organizations consolidate their domain name portfolios and transfer them to GoDaddy. Trisha’s work often entails creating transfer plans and updating name servers to make sure that those transitions happen seamlessly. She also handles daily requests like registering domains, configuring DNS records, and assisting with SSL certificates.
Below is an interview with Trisha and Matt Serlin, Head of Client Success and Operations who have worked together many years. Trisha shares her insights on the challenges of managing domain portfolios, security concerns and solutions, the impact of COVID on domains and creative approaches to TLDs.
Matt Serlin: How do you help clients clean up domain portfolios that are cluttered or outdated?
Trisha Ytuarte: Our GCD client success team and Brandsight platform help clients make the most of their domain portfolios, and this often involves some cleanup. Companies rarely use all the domains they are paying to maintain. Of course, some of their domains are defensive registrations, but there are often domains they no longer need. My team assists clients in determining where their domains are pointing. We assist them in recognizing which domains are serving them well and which are not. Recently, I did a “cleanout” for a very large client and we found many ways to optimize their portfolio. We want clients to shine in front of their management team. If they look good, we do too.
Matt: What do you feel are the greatest challenges with domains?
Trisha: Surprisingly, one of the biggest issues that keeps coming up lately is billing. Companies used to just pay for all the domains as a company cost, but now their accounts payable departments want to attribute those domain costs to different business units.
A common problem is that the company does not always know who in the organization purchased the domains. I had a client recently go through the exercise of reaching out to different department heads and business units until they had a responsible party listed for every single domain. Then, they determined whether that business unit should keep the domain or let it go. Now, when invoices come in for domain costs, they know which department should be billed.
This is a big project, so not many companies take it on, but we are seeing more clients retain GCD and the Brandsight technology platform to help them with this effort.
Matt: What is a blind spot that many domain professionals miss?
Trisha: When companies are looking to let go of domains, this process can become messy if they forget to check with all stakeholders before removing them from their portfolios. A client may determine that no one is using a domain and it doesn’t point to anything and conclude that it can be dropped. However, if they had probed further, they may have discovered that the domain is used for VPN or there may be email addresses attached to it. And once the company sells a domain, they may have a tough time getting it back. Therefore, it’s essential to check with all relevant departments such as IT, legal, marketing, branding and possibly others to make sure the domains are not in use before allowing them to lapse.
Matt: How have security concerns changed in recent years?
Trisha: There has definitely been an increase in security awareness and combining human and technology resources helps domain professionals to monitor and enforce security. Bad actors are using homophones – similar sounding words – to spoof and misdirect traffic from legitimate domains. We help clients be creative about combating this kind of activity.
Matt: How do you handle SSL Certificates for clients?
Trisha: As “behind the scenes” products, SSL certificates can be intimidating. We translate them into everyday language so that clients can understand and engage in the process. All internet users use SSLs daily, perhaps without realizing it. Since SSL certificates prove that the domain is secure, they are essential to establish trust between the consumer and the domain.
Matt: What has been the biggest effect of the COVID pandemic on domains?
Trisha: Due to the pandemic, many people are still working from home even now. Working remotely, they are more isolated and sometimes more vulnerable to attacks from bad actors. The pandemic has also given some bad actors more spare time to create sneaky social engineering scams. Social engineering attackers try to infiltrate systems and exfiltrate data by posing as someone with an urgent or desperate request for help or information.
The scenario for social engineering is typically that a scammer calls up a legitimate company pretending to be a responsible, authorized person. They tell a story of panic and desperation, hoping that their false story will get them past the company’s usual safeguards and security policies. We help educate clients on detecting social engineering tactics so they will recognize these attacks for the frauds they are and not engage or divulge information to the perpetrators. The more employees can adhere to the policies designed to protect them, the safer and less exposed to risk they are.
As part of GCD’s relationships with clients, we provide default policies they can customize for their domain security needs. Policy may stipulate that only authorized people can access domain information. The domain registrar should also have policies requiring people to prove authorization with pin numbers and passwords before obtaining information or access. GCD recommends using both a technology-based and human version of multi-factor authentication before giving out any domain-related data.
Matt: In your decade of experience with domains, what are the most clever or unconventional uses of domain TLDs you have seen?
Trisha: I have seen companies cleverly use ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) as part of their domains. For example .co is a ccTLD for Colombia, but most people thought it as an alternative to .com. I have also seen .us used for domains like “vote.us” where the “.us” has a double meaning of United States and “us”, the first-person plural. Creative uses for country codes are my favorite domains.
Bringing with her 20 years of marketing experience, Elisa Cooper joined the company in 2017 to lead the organization’s marketing strategy and execution. A domain name industry veteran, Elisa has worked closely with many Fortune 1000 companies in assisting with domain and brand protection policy development and has spoken and written extensively on these topics.