Many British businesses are at risk of brand damage on the internet because of poor domain name registration and protection practices, according to the latest Cyberdaq report from domain name specialist NetNames.
Many of the UK's leading brands were found by NetNames to be 24% less protected on the internet than their German counterparts. The Cyberdaq analysis examined the top 30 brands from the FTSE 100, DowJones, CAC 40, DAX 30, IBEX 35 and OMX 20.
German efficiency, Spanish siesta?
The Cyberdaq report noted that German companies have been better than their other European counterparts at securing their brands online although, on average, 33% of top German brands are still not properly secured online. British and American firms fared worse with their brands being only 50% secure, leaving themselves wide open to attack from cyber-squatters (unscrupulous people or organisations who 'hi-jack' company names and variants for their own profit, or to maliciously damage a brand).
France and Denmark also performed better than the UK and the USA, both with only 40% of their brands being open to attack in this way. The top 30 companies from the Spanish IBEX revealed the weakest results, with only one-third of their web addresses having actually been registered by company officials.
The Cyberdaq report showed that French and German companies have the highest regard for online brand security within their own territory. Both countries are conscious of threats at home as well as abroad, with 90% of .FR web addresses having been registered by the appropriate company's officials, and 100% of the top 30 German brands having registered their proper country-specific domain name.
British businesses proved less thorough, however, generally failing to secure the easily-overlooked .org.uk domain name variants, with less than one-fifth of UK companies taking this particular domain suffix seriously when it comes to internet brand protection.
More than just a dot-com
The Cyberdaq report found that the majority of companies fail to think about protecting their brands beyond the .COM and national domain name suffix (e.g. .FR in France or .CO.UK in the UK). For example, while 82% of all companies have secured their .COM brand, only one-third have registered the corresponding .INFO name.
Although there are a number of other elements to be considered when it comes to online brand protection, NetNames warns that domain names should be a key part of every company's brand protection strategy.
Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer for NetNames, said: "The threat from cyber squatters and online speculators is well known, and yet many businesses continue to take a myopic view of online brand protection. The Cyberdaq report revealed that a frightening number of multinational brands from leading world markets remain largely at risk. The recent launch of the .ASIA domain type is a further danger, and companies should consider their brand protection strategies and avoid putting themselves at unnecessary risk via neglected domain types."