Every day, criminals are abusing the good names of well-known companies. Nearly all large, high-profile firms nowadays do at least some of their business over the internet. And cybercriminals are taking advantage by setting up fake webshops, phishing and hijacking domain names. The crooks make use of WhatsApp, SMS (texting), telephone and other channels as well. It's sometimes frightening how much information they manage to get hold of. The crooks in the case described above knew the contacts' names and the firms' addresses, for example. They went to a lot of trouble to make themselves believable - an increasingly familiar trait of these scams.
Impact on brand value, reputation and earnings
As a company, of course you want to prevent criminals cashing in on your carefully constructed public image. An unpleasant experience with a fake webshop can persuade a customer to treat your promotional mail as junk or decide against visiting your real site. The risk is that customers stop trusting your brand. With serious implications for brand value, reputation and ultimately earnings. So what can you do to avoid getting stung by on-line brand abuse? To answer that question, we've developed a handy checklist.
On-line brand abuse risk reduction checklist
Step 1: Register your brand name
Brand name registration actually begins before you set up your company. For companies based in our part of the world, the place to go is the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP). BOIP is the official body for brand protection in the Benelux.
Step 2: Register your logo
As well as registering your brand name, it makes sense to register your logo and/or image brand. That can be done through BOIP as well. Then impersonators can't hitch a ride on your success without even breaking the law.
Step 3: Register your domain name in the regions where you plan to trade
It's a good idea to check in advance whether the domain name you want to use is available. If, for example, you think that you may go after the German market some day, registering the .de version of your domain name now may pay dividends later.
Step 4: Enforcement and crisis communication
Make sure that you have a procedure in place for responding to on-line brand abuse if it ever happens. That might involve, say, communication via various channels and getting your lawyer on the case. Who needs to do what to get an abusive domain name taken off line, for example? We'll soon be publishing a step-by-step plan you can follow if you ever do fall victim.
Step 5: Make sure people know what your domain name is
If people know your domain name, they won't as easily get taken in by lookalikes. So always give your domain name in full in your communications.
Step 6: Proactive monitoring
Our Domain Name Surveillance Service lets you watch out for your brand 24-7. As soon as anyone registers a domain name similar to your brand name or domain name, we'll alert you. You can also use the service to get an idea whether a suspect domain name is being use for phishing or malware. So you can quickly take appropriate action.
In short: it pays to get off on the right foot. Address the threat of brand abuse before your company is even up and running. If you'd like to know more about SIDN's Domain Name Surveillance Service, contact our Product Manager Pim Pastoors by calling +31 26 352 5500 of mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.