Part 1: Domain names pawns in digital fraud
It is in the morning, 11 October 2013. A press release about a hyped Swedish tech company is released by a trustworthy news agency, and within seventeen minutes said company’s market capitalization has increased by almost 50% – corresponding to roughly 1,5 billion SEK. It is just that the press release is fake.
In 2018, The Telegraph wrote about a Scottish bank that won a domain dispute over a .co.uk domain against a Chinese cybersquatter. The cybersquatter had noticed that the bank had submitted a trademark application and had in connection to this registered the domain name. A deciding fact that in the end led to the bank winning the dispute was the fact that the squatter had contacted the bank and offered them to purchase the domain name for £100,000. If the squatter had not done this, it would have been much more vexing to access the domain name, as names are registered on a first-come-first-serve basis without a preliminary examination.
During the 2018 spring, a Swedish municipality was paid particular attention in media. The reason was that a domain name almost identical to theirs was used to distribute pornographic content.
In February 2020, SVT Nyheter reported an incident linked to the Swedish police authority. Many emails to an unknown recipient have been sent incorrectly for three years, in the belief that they have been emailed to the Swedish police authority. In fact, all of these e-mails were received by an individual, who has registered a domain name with a spelling similar to polisen.se. This is a scenario that could easily have been avoided at an early stage with the right domain strategy and domain monitoring.
(Do you want more examples from reality? Have a look here)
The common denominator in all the examples above, collected from real life, is that domain names have been used as a tool for committing fraud or infringement. The effects can be dire and may entail for example a loss of confidence for the brand and a decrease in sales.
As a company, there is a lot to gain from ensuring that your domain management is strategic, secure, and monitors how your brand is being used online. Good brand reputation, as is well known, is good for business.
Three important pieces of advice for protecting your company against domain name infringement.
- Make sure you have the right domain name. Domain names are registered without preliminary examination, on a first-come-first-serve basis. As there today are over 1,000 different top-level domains, companies need to have a strategy for which domains should be protected. By holding the right domains (e.g. it is recommended to be in control of the regional domains for the countries in which you are operate) you reduce the risk of someone else using your name in a manner than could hurt your brand.
- Monitor domain registrations containing your name and/or brand. By monitoring related domain registrations of prioritized words, you can catch domains that risk being used in bad faith early on. Domain monitoring is an important complement to registering domains, and helps companies protect their name online cost-efficiently. Today, most companies are in need of some sort of monitoring, regardless of size and sector.
- Educate your personnel. Educate your personnel on how different types of fraud can occur online. By creating an internal awareness, the possibility of catching fraud early on increases. Make sure to have developed internal processes regarding how to act in risky situations – and have all employees be acquainted with them. It is also good to have routines regarding how you manage your IP resources to ensure that everything is managed in an efficient and secure manner.
Read more about our Domain Monitoring service here!
If you suspect that you or your company have been victim of fraud, or if you want our experts to develop a proactive strategy for preventive purposes, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at +46 40 – 613 09 00.
We’ve posted Part 2: The Art of Acting Before too Much Damage is Done, read it here!