A healthy brand image is critical for any business that wishes to succeed, especially amid the ever-increasing number of cyber threats and fierce competitors one may face. And as part of maintaining that image, keeping a threat-free domain can help a lot in today’s online landscape.
Why is that the case? For many brands, their Internet domain names are essentially synonyms for their brand names. Just take Facebook[.]com or amazon[.]com as examples. Tampering with these organizations’ domain names is just like tampering with, for example, the brands’ logos. However, as domain names also play a technical role in providing digital accessibility, they are even more prone to unwanted activity.
So, how can you protect your domain name at the same time as your brand? Tools like Brand Monitor can help. Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case. First off, though, let’s better draw the distinction between “brand monitoring” and “domain brand monitoring.”
What Is Domain Brand Monitoring?
Brand monitoring used to just refer to the practice of tracking online channels and platforms to gauge an organization’s brand performance, reception, and overall online presence. Amid the ever-expanding threat landscape, however, brand monitoring now includes keeping one’s domain free from all ties to malicious activity.
That has given rise to domain brand monitoring, which is not surprising given the fact that any company that succumbs to a domain-related attack or infringement automatically tarnishes its brand’s reputation.
Why Is Domain Brand Monitoring Important?
As has been established, a company’s domain is synonymous with its brand and, therefore, reputation. Any form of negativity tied to an organization’s domain, such as being tagged “malicious” on a threat database, can damage its standing with customers and stakeholders, both existing and potential.
Suppose a company’s domain has been dubbed a phishing site on a threat intelligence source like PhishTank, for instance. In that case, many organizations and individuals, through their installed security solutions, will not be able to access it. As a result, if the entities that the company does business with cannot access its website, it means that it automatically loses customers and thus revenue.
Even browsers can immediately warn users who wish to visit the site by displaying an alert like this:
In this specific case, the domain secure-web[.]us has been tagged a phishing site by PhishTank as of 1 May 2021.
Imagine if one of your customers gets warned about your website in the same manner. It’s most likely that the client would not want to do business with your company.
The more popular a brand is, the more likely its name can get dragged through the mud. Microsoft and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are only two examples of organizations whose brands were hijacked by cybersquatters. Sadly, individuals can suffer the same fate, too. We’ve seen celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton become cybersquatting victims as well.
How Can Brand Monitor Help Business Owners?
Brand Monitor is a domain brand monitoring tool that allows entrepreneurs not only to keep tabs on competitors but, more importantly, to stay cyber threat-free and thus keep customers safe and happy. It specifically helps business owners:
One of the ways by which organizations earn their customers’ trust is by providing high-quality products or services. At present, that also means dealing with counterfeiters that prey on their brand popularity online.
Brand Monitor can help users identify website hosts that may be selling fake versions of their products or services. By keying in their brand names into the brand monitoring tool for tracking, users can scan the Internet for domains that host sites that sell counterfeits. They can report these to the proper authorities for action.
Catch Trademark Infringers
Apart from counterfeiters, online business owners also need protection against trademark infringers. Much like the untoward effects that fake goods and services can cause a company, a brand dragged through the mud with disreputable websites can face the same unwanted consequences. What if those sites were mistaken for yours? Worse, what if visiting them lands your customers on malware hosts or phishing sites?
Brand Monitor allows users to track newly registered and recently dropped domains that look very similar to theirs. By activating the tool’s Typos feature, entrepreneurs can easily monitor look-alike domains for signs of malicious activity that can tarnish their reputation.
Protect Against Brand Hijacking
The more popular a brand is, the more prone it is to hijacking as well. While some hijackers may merely wish to direct traffic to spoofed domains, others may have something more damaging in mind.
Brand Monitor enables business owners to track domains that may have ties to more sinister brandjacking attacks. Similarly, they can use the tool to obtain a list of copycat domains that they can purchase as an anti-typosquatting measure. Big companies like Google and Apple practice this approach. Typing apple[.]store on your browser, for instance, would redirect you to the official Apple website apple[.]com. The same thing happens when you type the misspelled domain google[.]com. You’d get directed to Google’s official website google[.]com.
Brand monitoring also helps business owners protect their brands from phishers and other cybercriminals. We know that phishers often mimic the most popular brands to lure victims into downloading malicious spam attachments or clicking links to malware-hosting sites. To do that, they register domain names that victims can easily mistake for those belonging to their favorite brands. Once hooked, victims end up handing their personally identifiable information (PII), including payment credentials, to eagerly waiting cybercriminals.
Brand Monitor allows users to monitor newly added domains that contain specific keywords or their branding terms, which may end up as hosts to phishing pages. Not only can the tool protect their brands from nefarious attacks but also their customers’ data.
Monitor the Competition
Business owners have it tough. While the latest technological advancements do ease operations, they also increase competition. As such, entrepreneurs must invest in tools that help them monitor their competitors.
Brand Monitor can help business owners track if their counterparts have new products or services in the works. With it, they can spot new domain registrations that may indicate upcoming product or service launches or mergers. They can also add relevant keywords or competing brands to their trackers to get clues on novel marketing initiatives that may impact their business operations. This brand monitoring tool can also send notifications to inform business owners of any changes on their monitored brands so they can readily come up with marketing strategies that will help them stay on top of their competition.
Cybersquatting is typically the first step in spamming, phishing, and other malware-enabled attacks. While they say “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” that is not the case when it comes to cybersquatting.
Cybersquatters can have many intentions in mind. Some often buy look-alikes of very popular domains and then try to get brand owners to pay huge sums for them. You can look up infamous cybersquatters like John Zuccarini and Alf Temme online to see how much harm they brought to the owners of the sites they mimicked and abused.
Others have more nefarious intentions in mind, such as using the domain look-alikes for cyber attacks like phishing and business email compromise (BEC). If you look up famous BEC cases, you’re likely to find brands like Toyota, Ubiquiti Networks, and Save the Children among the many victims to date. These companies lost huge amounts to their respective BEC attackers.
Domain monitoring tool Brand Monitor has a Typos feature that can help your business avoid the same perils. You can create a tracker for all your trademarks and get alerted each time a domain with them or their misspelled variants comes online.
Domain Brand Monitoring in Action
To see Brand Monitor at work, let us investigate how many potential infringers or typosquatters may be riding on the popularity of Fortune 500 top 1 company Amazon. Follow the three steps below, and you’re done.
- Access the Brand Monitor dashboard. Click the Advanced tab. Key in the term or brand you want to monitor in the Search term(s) field. Toggle the Typos button on for more results. Click the Add to monitoring button. You will immediately get notified about the number of misspelled variants of the term that will be added to your tracker. In this specific case, we learned that 182 misspelled variants of the term “Amazon” were added to the tracker.
- Wait 24 hours to get the results. During our experiment, after one day, Brand Monitor saw 428 newly registered potential look-alike domains and 165 of existing ones dropped.
- The next step would be to analyze the domain names. If you’re looking up your own brand and none of the domains belong to you, you can file a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) complaint against their owners with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) or buy them so they cannot be used for malicious purposes as part of your cybersecurity strategy.
In sum, business owners who want to make sure their brands are well-received online should invest in domain brand monitoring tools like Brand Monitor. Domain brand monitoring protects against counterfeiting, trademark infringement, brand hijacking, phishing, and more—making it a critical ingredient for success amid an ever-growing threat landscape. On top of that, users can keep tabs on the competition as well.