November 17, 2008

Protecting Your Brand Online: Is There Another You on the Internet?

There's a great article by Richard Stiennon over at the ThreatChaos blog about the potential for Twitter being used to attack brands. Washington Post's Brian Krebs also talks about claiming your space on these social networking sites. If you are worried about protecting your company's or YOUR brand go read these articles.

I, for one, have been working on Internet brand protection for the past year or so. From my name to the organizations I help run I've been registering domain names and setting up accounts on various websites; all in an effort to try to protect the brand. It's time consuming and expensive and I still have much work to do.

There are a TON of social networking sites: see this great Wiki page listing various sites along with information such as the focus of the site. And the big problem with this is that they don't validate the creator. I could set up a profile using the name George W Bush with no problem. Well, that is until the Secret Service show up at my house. doh. Worse, sometimes they don't even index on the profile name allowing an evil twin attack to occur. It would take you days to set up profiles on all of these sites and honestly I don't feel you need to do this. Focus in on the popular sites and the sites that are appropriate for your brand. For example if you aren't into or brand doesn't relate to fantasy or sci-fi than you don't need to register on Elftown. However, you might want to consider which is an online city guide where people rate businesses in their neighborhood. Yelp even offers a page for business owners to monitor your business page.

Even though anyone can impersonate you there are some measures you can take to help protect yourself and your brand. So the areas that I recommend you consider in your online protection strategy are:
  • Domain Names
  • Social Networking Sites
  • Email Addresses

Domain Names
  • Of course!
  • at a minimum
Social Networking Sites
Email Addresses
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
There are plenty of other sites that you should create profiles on but use these as a starting point.

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