PALM BEACH, FL – “Domain squatting” – AKA cybersquatting – and “brand hijacking” are two internet-based threats that present unique dangers to both businesses and end users, opening up some to cybersecurity threats and brand/trademark damage including potential phishing and malware attacks.
Domain squatting is registering or using a domain name to profit from a trademark belonging to a well-known brand, typically by registering a misspelled version of their URL to misdirect traffic that would ordinarily be going to their website.
In contrast, brand hijacking – also known as brand spoofing – is typically where an internet pirate disguises themselves as a well-known brand in order to erode and damage the credibility and trust in said brand amongst their customer base. This phenomenon has seen a large uptick in activity in recent years; in a 2022 report, 46 percent of businesses surveyed said that they had seen a significant jump in brand hijacking – and subsequent damage to their reputations – when compared to just the year before.
When it comes to domain squatting, the squatter (a domain owner with no true intent to to use a domain) either creates a website – sometimes similar – to that of a legitimate brand it seeks to lure, or merely sits on the domain in hopes that the target will attempt to purchase the domain from them for a large amount of money.
While domain squatting is more of a blatantly obvious issue, brand hijacking tends to be a bit more insidious, as it is attempting to hoodwink users into believing that they are interacting with a genuine brand through multiple means, including fake websites, phishing emails, and social media.
Domain squatting and brand hijacking can go hand in hand, with the perpetrator utilizing a squatted domain to create a counterfeit website for the purpose of hijacking a known brand, potentially damaging the brand’s reputation, manipulating or scamming their customers, and even eating into their profits.
There are numerous ways that businesses can protect themselves from domain squatting and brand hijacking, including keeping track of Domain Authority and Backlink Profiles; getting digitally certified; consistent brand monitoring; educating your audience on how to recognize authentic digital assets and fraudulent replicas; and taking swift and comprehensive legal action when such actions are warranted.
The report was released by Mimecast, a cybersecurity provider that helps organizations make email safer, restore trust and bolster cyber resilience.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®