Are Cyber ‘Brand-Jackers’ Targeting Your Brands?

‘Brand-jacking’ poses a real and growing threat to brands in every sector, according to a report issued yesterday by MarkMonitor, a global company offering brand protection services.

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Hmmm, you say, that’s akin to a home alarm system company releasing a report saying home burglaries are on the rise – of course, that’s what they’re going to find. Still, the findings are interesting to any company, organization or person with a brand to protect. (That’s pretty much everybody.)

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Cybersquatting is far-and-away the most common form of brand abuse identified. Cyber-squatting is the unauthorized use of a trademarked name or phrase in a domain that is used to point to a website that isn’t owned by the trademark holder. MarkMonitor found more than 286,000 instances of cybersquatting for the 25 brands it studied—an average of 11,400 instances each.

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“Phishing” is a popular scam in which thousands of unsuspecting consumers are sent e-mails that appear to come from their financial insitution informing them of the need to change a savings account or creditcard password right away. It is the gullible consumer who gets bilked out of his savings, but phishing is also a major problem for banks and brokerages losing customers’ business. Phishing incidents increased 104 percent in the first quarter this year versus the same period in 2006, MarkMonitor says.

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Consumer confusion is contruting to the rise in phishing. “We believe a lot of it is due to the confusion people have over the introduction of new security methods that banks introduce,” Dan Hubbard, vice-president of security research at Websense, said in a Business Week interview. “Plus, there’s been a lot of mergers and acquisitions of different banks. The customer is dealing with a new entity and that creates some confusion that phishers can use to their advantage.”

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Like other corporate adversaries, brand jackers are getting new-media savvy.

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“Brand holders face a double whammy – not only is the volume of these abuses significant, but abusers are becoming alarmingly savvy marketers,” explains Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer for MarkMonitor. “Brand abusers are employing online marketing techniques such as search engine optimization to siphon traffic from reputable sites. Our analysis identifies cybersquatting as a driver leading to other abuses that further degrade brand value, customer loyalty and revenues.”

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- Jon Harmon

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P.S.  Bad-writing Nominee:

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MarkMonitor’s news release, written by its agency Edelman, is a case study in “burying the lead.” C’mon. Edelman, you know better. The lead isn’t “today MM released its first brand-jacking index.” Feature the most interesting findings of the study in the lead, then detail the study itself in the second graph. Edelman’s release is just lazy writing. Don’t force journalists to hunt through paragraph after paragraph looking for the news; make it easy for them!

 

Comments

  1. Te Smith says:

    Thx for the feedback, Jon. We had a bit of debate over the headline for the release and, since this was our first Brandjacking Index, we decided to ‘state the obvious’ in the headline.
    I’m sure we’ll be doing something different for the next Brandjacking Index!

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