The Internet, The Wild West and Reality

If you were to say slanderous things about someone, would this cause problems for you?  What if you didn’t say it but everyone believes it was you?  The Internet can make this happen, so what will you do about it?

The relative anonymity provided by the Internet has caused all kinds of sick and twisted people to come out to play.  These people still generally lurk in the corners but every so often one actually comes into the light.  What can these people do to you when they are located someone else?  A fair bit more than you might realize.

Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting can be a huge issue, especially for businesses.  Did you remember to check if your domain name was available when you registered your business?  Afterwards did you remember to actually acquire your domain name to make sure no-one could purchase it in the meantime and dilute your brand?  Grabbing your domain name seems to have gotten enough press that a fair number of businesses are thinking about the web when setting up their companies.

When you purchase your dot com, spend some time deciding if it is worthwhile also purchasing all the related domains as well.  Dot net, dot org, and some country specific domains are often good purchases as well.  This will keep random people from holding your business hostage.  Domain squatting may be “banned” but it still happens and the rules are vague enough that it could take years and possibly court time before getting your domain back.  In the meantime someone could easily make you look like a fool by pretending to be you online.

Hacking

This has been getting more press time lately.  If you do not remember to setup strong passwords on your accounts it can be rather simple for an attacker to gain access.  Once done an attacker can steal your personal information, change your password, and pretend to be you.  The damage done in only a few hours could take weeks or years to undo.  You may be thinking about your bank accounts here and that can be very important, but I’m talking about your virtual persona.  Who you are on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc can be an open and inviting target to an attacker.

Getting access can give an attacker lists of people to spam.  It can also give them all the information they might need to completely steal your identity.  Protect this information because your identity is worth at least as much as the money in your bank account.

Spoofing

Here is the easiest way for an attacker to get you.  They simply create an account on Facebook or a similar where you haven’t joined and pretend to be you.  Again this can provide plenty of easy targets for them.  If you are someone with respect and authority the attacker could also be fleecing money and basically trading your good name for a quick buck.

All of these attack options are relatively easy for an attacker and under regulated.  This means that an attacker can destroy as much as they want and the legal system really cannot do anything to stop them.  What you can do is become more informed.  Your reputation is valuable, don’t let someone take that from you.

2 thoughts on “The Internet, The Wild West and Reality”

  1. It’s unfortunate, but it does happen. You would think people with the smarts to access technology to hurt others would rather profit from their abilities, but some have had such bad experiences they’re willing to take the time to slander businesses and individuals. While you can’t stop them from trying, you can definitely take some of the steps suggested in your post to protect yourself and your brand. Great post!

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