You’ve worked through the branding process, coming out on the other end with a hard-earned, spot-on brand.
You’ll want to immediately follow-up with the legal process of trademarking and/or copyrighting.
Once you’ve accomplished that, you’ve begun the extremely important process of protecting your brand from infringers and thieves. There’s still, however, an entirely different category of foes to be aware of and protect your brand from—the invaders.
The Low-Down on Brand Invaders
As a society, we’re extremely aware of identity thieves. They target individuals, steal their sensitive information, go on a spending craze or auction off their social security numbers. When it happens, it’s draining and crippling.
Your brand is your organization’s identity and it can be compromised as well. Anyone who tries to do so is a brand invader.
You might be thinking, “I trademarked and copyrighted. What could possibly go wrong?” A whole lot actually.
What Brand Invaders Target
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of arenas brand invaders target:
- Website logins
- Domain name logins
- Domain name variations
- Hosting logins
- Brand financial logins and info
- Social media logins
- Dropbox or Google Drive logins
These might be areas you haven’t quite considered yet, but each could compromise a valuable part of your brand. A compromised website could be the worst thing to ever happen to a brand.
Same with a compromised domain URL, which could then lock you out and point to another website in exchange for a ransom.
A compromised hosting situation could lead to thousands upon thousands of third-party uploaded files hiding deep within your URL.
Yes, these things happen, but you can prevent them.
Here are some street-smart ways to protect your brand from invaders.
#1: Bolster Your Passwords and Password Policies
The most common password that Americans utilize is oddly enough 1234. Roughly 13% of passwords are that. For a hacker trying to gain entry to something, especially your website backed, that will be one of the first attempts they make. After all, they have more than a 1/10 chance of it being your password.
- Is that your password to something (anything)? Go change it right now.
A little quiz for you. Of the below options, which do you think is the most secure password?
You might of been tempted to select option number two. It’s the most complicated on the surface. In reality, however, it’s not much more secure than option one.
That’s an overgeneralized example, but the bottom line is this—the longer the password, the better. In this case, option three is the best. It’s fairly memorable as well. If you’re going to give it a try I couldn’t recommend enough that you go for:
- Length (longer is better)
- Complexity (mix of caps and symbols)
Don’t Be Tempted to Create Passwords Solely for Memory
We’re tempted to create passwords solely for memory. It’s lazy to be honest. Design them for security. There are countless programs that encrypt and store your complicated passwords somewhere for you to access. Go that route instead.
We track the brute-force attempt passwords that hackers are utilizing. They go in patterns of using the most straightforward and memorable strings. The top ones are:
Keep the Passwords in the Right Hands
For your website, your social media and other assets, only provide logins and passwords for those that need access. No one extraneous should have their hands on that kind of sensitive information.
Create Leveled Logins
Wherever possible, create tiered logins. Your website shouldn’t have 10 administrators with full access. I’d recommend only having one or two of those. The rest of users should only have access to what they truly need.
That way, if they’re compromised, someone doesn’t use their account to delete and lock out every other user. Yes, I’ve seen it happen.
#2: Be Cautious of Public Wifi
Public wifi is everywhere nowadays. The airport, the coffee shop, the subway.
Public wifi has opened our computers to a world of invaders. The barrier to entry on hacking wifi isn’t that big any longer, especially the public, open sourced wifi spots. A hacker can kick themselves in and monitor the transmission of information. Guess what? That’s your logins and they’re ripe for the picking.
No joke—back in the day I saw a colleague’s client’s website get uploaded with 10,000 pages of Karma Sutra blog posts and pages. My colleague noticed because suddenly Google flagged the website as being potentially hacked. Whoops.
How did this happen? The CEO logged into a few of their secure platforms (website, hosting) on a public wifi in a coffee shop. Hacker was standing by (probably some dude sipping coffee in the same coffee shop) and stole that info to reverse it into an attack.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you must use public wifi, and there are definitely reasons, then be sure to equip your computer and/or browser with a VPN. A VPN encrypts all of your transmissions and data going in or out of your computer, even over public wifi.
Bring Your Own Hotspot
I’ve always participated in BYOH—bring your own hotspot. I love hanging out in the hip local coffee joint or the accessing wifi in the airport. I don’t use their wifi though—I utilize the hotspot built into my phone. That gives me control and privacy on my own device, rather than plunging my information into the public streams.
Enforce and Educate Your Team About Best Wifi Practices
You’re only as strong as your weakest link. Be sure to educate and enforce policies about safe wifi practices. Require your team uses a VPN in public places. Encourage hotspot usage over public wifi.
#3: Practice Safe Wifi at the Office
Same goes for the office. The most vulnerable routers, even password protected ones, are the routers that are outdated and running on past operating softwares.
My recommendation? Request a new, up-to-date router at least once a year. It will keep your internet working flawlessly and keep you on the cutting edge of updates.
#4: Purchase the Logical Domain URL Variations for Your Organization
At the time of writing this post, the 2016 presidential race is going on.
You might recall a story where https://jebbush.com/ was getting auto-directed to Donald Trump’s website. A simple oversight by the Jeb Bush campaign that led to a lot of people ending up at Trump’s website. Not a good move or look for the Bush camp.
This happens to the everyday organization as well. Maybe it isn’t just the domain URL that makes a lot of sense—often times its the domain extension (.com, .co, .org). I’ve seen many .org websites go to purchase the .com as a safety precaution, but the time they hit the market to purchase a troll has already done so and is ransoming it for thousands of dollars.
Out of the gate, it might hurt a bit to spend the extra money, but it will be worth it—buy those variations and keep them on lock down.
#5: Don’t Use Bargain Hosting Packages
We live in the era of “bargain” hosting. These big, cheap hosts have much of the world convinced that you can get a whole lot for a little.
Case and point—that $3/month hosting? You’re getting what you’re paying for—no security and inconsistent speed levels.
Bottom Line: Use Some Street Smarts to Protect Yourself from Brand Invaders
The morale of the story is this—protecting yourself from brand invaders goes beyond the classic channels. With some street-smarts, however, you can keep your brand out of trouble.
What are some street-smart ways you keep your brand secure? Sound off below.