Business leaders must focus on many things every day. There are legal and compliance issues, personnel issues, product development issues, and much more. But in the era of Snowden vs. the NSA, Wikileaks, and a myriad of data breaches, who protects your corporate digital footprint?
There may be someone in your marketing or IT department who conducts regular web monitoring with either Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts (or even better, with both) on your company name or main brand name, but is there a report generated from the results? If yes, who sees the report, and what action is taken if something negative is found?
What happens when someone infringes on your company name, brand name, or tagline? Does your business have a procedure in place? Which department is responsible for taking action?
While most discussions center on hacking into and stealing your most sensitive information for fraudulent purposes, there is another issue that doesn’t garner the same level of attention: the issue of assuring the accuracy of your digital footprint.
According to Wikipedia, a “digital footprint” is defined as the “trail left by an entity’s interactions in a digital environment including its usage of TV, mobile phone, Internet, mobile web, and other devices…A digital footprint may include the recording of activities such as system login and logouts, visits to a web-page, accessed or created files, or emails and chat messages. Social networking sites record activities of individuals, and this usage of social media and roaming services captures data that includes interests, social groups, behaviors, and location. This data can be gathered and analyzed without a user’s awareness.”
Let’s not forget about cybersquatting, when someone with a nefarious intent reserves your company name and either holds it for ransom (translation: they demand an exorbitant amount of money to sell the URL to you) or they prefer to hold onto the URL and not sell it all. Even worse, they create an inappropriate site. Think of the site that’s similar to the URL of the White House – you’re asking for trouble if you click on it (note, the correct site is http://www.whitehouse.gov).
It’s critical to reserve your company and brand names – and all other permutations you can think of – across all major social media sites. That way, you won’t have to worry about waking up one morning with surprising news about your brand on some outlier social site with crazy details about your brand – that are totally false. Also, purchase all URLs that end in .com, .org., .net, as well as other suffixes with your company and brand name.
Visit these sites to check your company name or major brand name: http://knowem.com or http://namechk.com. Don’t forget to also check out and consider purchasing altered or frequently misspelled versions of your company name or brand. Above all, regularly monitor your digital footprint.
What’s your plan to protect your corporate digital footprint?
Source for this post:
Wikipedia: Digital Footprint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_footprint
Image Credit: digitalart via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.