In Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name?” As it turns out, quite a lot. Whether it is your own name, or that of your company, it is who you are and how you are known. Cybercriminals understand the power of a company’s name and also how easy it is to steal, which is why they will frequently try to gain control of it along with your digital properties, like your site and social media.
If they capture your name, they control your narrative.
How might they accomplish this?
- Counterfeit websites: If you don’t own your URL, the person who does can create a fraudulent site where visitors can be infected with malware or inadvertently share sensitive, personal information.
- Copyright piracy: Cybercriminals will illegally reproduce and disseminate your copyrighted materials.
- Trademark infringement: Bad guys can use your trademark to create deception or confusion about your brand or what your company does.
- Impersonation on social media: Social media can be an incredible tool to build your brand and connect with customers…until someone else does it for you and deceives customers into providing sensitive information.
How can I protect my brand?
- Purchase your company domain early. Even if you aren’t sure of the direction of our business, once you choose a name, buy the URL right away. Stories abound of companies and especially politicians who did not do this and regretted it (i.e., In 2015, someone purchased TedCruz.com and uploaded pro-Obama content).
- Acquire misspellings of your domain. Cybercriminals often purchase variations of domain names – called typo squatting – hoping to catch traffic that was intended for your site. (For example, WhiteHouse.com does not take you to the White House website, but to an election betting site.)
- Purchase alternate domains. Depending on the nature of your business, you may not want your brand name associated with sex sites. While it may never enter your mind, you may want to purchase your domain name with the TLD .xxx so no one else can in the future and sully your good name. (TLD = top-level domain or the last three letters at the end of a web address, such as .com, .org, etc.)
- Focus on the elements of your brand to reinforce trust. Increase trust in the eyes of your customers by using a professional email address that matches your domain name.