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British businesses at risk of brand damage online

British businesses at risk of brand damage online

British businesses are at major risk of brand damage online because of poor domain name registration practices, the Cyberdaq report from domain name management specialist NetNames reveals. Leading UK brands are 24 per cent less protected online than their German rivals.

The Cyberdaq report analyses how well protected the top 30 listed brands from the FTSE 100, DowJones, CAC 40, DAX 30, IBEX 35 and OMX 20 are online both domestically and internationally.

German efficiency, Spanish siesta

The Cyberdaq report reveals that German companies have been better than their European counterparts at securing their brands online – but still, on average, 33 per cent of top German brands are not secured online.

British and American firms fare even worse with their brands only 50 per cent secure online, leaving themselves wide open to attack from cybersquatters. France and Denmark also performed better than the UK and the USA, both with only 40 per cent of their brands open to attack online. The top 30 companies from the Spanish IBEX revealed the weakest results – only a third of their web addresses had been registered by company officials.

The report also underlined French and German companies high regard for domestic online brand security. Both countries seem conscious of threats at home as well as abroad - 90 per cent of .fr addresses featuring French company names had been registered by officials, whilst all of the top 30 German brands had covered their country-specific domain.

British businesses have proved less competent however, failing to secure their brands from cybersquatters and domain name speculators – less than a fifth of UK companies taking this domain suffix seriously when it comes to their most valuable brands.

Internet brands go much further than .com

The Cyberdaq report reveals that the majority of companies fail to think about protecting their brands beyond the .com and national domain name suffix (eg .fr for French companies). While 82 per cent of all companies have secured their .com brand, only a third have registered their .info brand.

Failing to register these domains has in the past proved a favoured route in for cybersquatters. Even Conservative Party leader David Cameron’s fell into the trap when he launched his WebCameron blog, failing to secure which was promptly cybersquatted by UKIP.

Although there are a number of other elements to be considered when it comes to online brand protection, domain names should be a key part of any company’s over-arching online protection strategy. 

By not covering their entire domain name portfolio, companies are leaving themselves open to attack from cybersquatters, who are profiting from these brands lack of online protection. Cybersquatters register domain names relating to these brands, often posting lucrative Google-style pay-per-click advertising to make money from people stumbling across their sites looking for official information.

Chief Operating Officer for NetNames, Jonathan Robinson, commented, “The threat from cybersquatters and online speculators is well known, yet so many businesses continue to take a myopic view of their online brand protection.

"The Cyberdaq report reveals that a frightening number of multinational brands from leading world markets remain largely at risk from cybersquatters and online speculators."

He added, "The recent launch of the new .asia domain is a further warning to companies to consider their online brand protection strategies and avoid putting themselves at unnecessary risk via neglected registrations.”

League table

Cyberdaq 2007 ranked countries according to their leading companies online brand protection levels as follows:

1. Germany       66 per cent secure

2. Denmark       60 per cent secure

3. France           57 per cent secure

4. UK                42 per cent secure

5. USA              41 per cent secure

6. Spain            33 per cent secure

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