Date of release: Monday, April 14, 2014

Countering Brandjacking in the Digital Age A new book aimed at helping businesses protect themselves from online attack has been co-authored by a University of Greenwich academic.

Countering Brandjacking in the Digital Age offers practical advice for small and medium-sized business owners on how to protect their brand.

Simeon Keates, Professor in Engineering at the university, says: “A company’s brand is everything. The internet gives companies the opportunity to increase brand recognition, and with it business. But there is also the chance for unscrupulous individuals to attack these brands, be it for personal gain, illicit purposes or malice.

“Cybersquatting, where someone registers a domain name with the aim of selling it back to the company or redirecting people to alternative products, is a big problem. For example, some people specialise in trying to guess the names of the next New Star Wars movies and register them as domains. Others may have inside information.

 “Brand risk is greatest for smaller operations who produce premium products, such as headphone or audio equipment manufacturers. A slight tweak of the website name could send people to a different site which sells counterfeit versions of the goods but for similar prices. Smaller companies typically don’t have the capacity or expertise to protect against this so in the book we’ve pointed out what they should be looking out for and protecting against.” 

Countering Brandjacking in the Digital Age came about when Simeon was teaching at IT University of Copenhagen. His co-author, Christopher Hofman, had established the European Domain Centre in 2003 after he recognised the coming explosion of variants on domain names and the resulting dangers when trying to protect brands online.

Until now there have been 22 generic top-level domains (gTLDs), of which .com and .net are most common. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) manages gTLDs and is releasing wide-ranging new domain names which can incorporate things such as location, .london, or an area of business, such as .coffee. Over 1,000 are expected to be launched this year.

“Each new technology or social media brings a new threat,” adds Simeon. “People need to adopt a safety first approach in dealing with anything in the media or online.”

The book details how to protect a brand’s reputation and value. It draws on examples of best practice in the fields of risk management, interaction design and engineering design. It contains many real-world examples and interviews with a number of brand owning organisations ranging from small companies to large multinationals.

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Story by Public Relations