It is evident for everyone that the digital space has gained enormous traction over the years, particularly as we all have become increasingly digitally reliant. This ongoing digital trend is unlikely to slow down in the near future; rather it continues to present new, and sometimes, unexpected obstacles along its journey. Brand owners and customers alike are using the digital space on a day-to-day basis for a range of purposes; e.g. shopping, to socialize or to gather information. However, through experiences as a Brand Protection provider it appears that the true capabilities of the digital space remain unknown. With the digital space being so fast-paced and ever-evolving, this has elevated the importance placed on the need for effective online brand protection.
Domain names play a fundamental role in the digital landscape. Millions of domain names are registered each year, increasing the risk that those domains get in the wrong hands and pose prominent threats to brand owners and their customers. Learning more about online brand protection becomes a necessity for brands if they want to protect their customers in the online space.
Online brand protection is the process of safeguarding a brand's assets and reputation on the internet. This includes monitoring for unauthorized use of a brand's intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyrights, and managing the brand's online reputation by mitigating harmful activity that could damage customers’ experience with the brand.
A domain name is a unique identifier for a website. It serves as an address that allows people to find and access a website on the internet. Domain names are a vital part of the internet because they enable users to easily remember and access specific websites, rather than having to enter a long string of numbers (called an IP address) to access a site.
For example, if you want to access the website for our company Safenames, you can type "safenames.net" into your web browser rather than remembering and entering the Safenames server's IP address. This makes it much easier for people to navigate the internet and access the websites they need.
When you consider what a domain name is and its main functions, domain names essentially act as the "chief navigational tool of the internet". In practice, domain names are often the first point of contact that consumers have with a brand online. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to choose domain names that accurately reflect their brand and are easy for consumers to remember. Equally, businesses need to be wary of domain names specifically chosen by fraudsters which can be used to target their business and their customer base. This is why having an appropriate online brand protection strategy should be a priority for brands.
Abusive domain names are domain names that are registered with the intention of confusing or misleading consumers, often by using a brand's name or a slight variation of it. This poses a significant problem for brand owners from a reputational standpoint and customers as they can be easily misled. The number of cases concerning abusive or fraudulent domain names is increasing yearly and at a fast pace. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in 2022 alone, 5,764 cybersquatting cases were filed, representing a 12.35% increase from the previous year. Considering the relative ease in which a domain name can be registered (the process takes a few minutes), the minimal cost involved, the ability to be wholly unidentifiable, and ultimately having a global reach, these are all factors that make domain name registrations a very attractive avenue for bad actors who are looking to carry out malicious activities.
Domain names pose a wide range of threats; narrowing it down to just three was undoubtedly tricky. Mind you; the digital landscape is constantly evolving, so if you ask me the same question one month down the line, my answer could be different. Based on our expertise and experience of the digital space, it is recommended brand owners need to be aware of the top three threats of 2023.
Brand Protection Analyst