MarkMonitor Year-in-Review Report Finds Online Abuse of Major Brands Was a Growth Industry for Fraud

By MarkMonitor

MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index™ confirms 80 percent of brand abuse sites remain in operation for more than a year and cybersquatting remains the tool of choice for Brandjackers.

MarkMonitor®, the global leader in enterprise brand protection, today released the company's latest Brandjacking Index™, which finds that online abuse of many of the world's leading brands rose in 2008. The report also reveals that 80 percent of abusive sites identified in 2007 were still active today, indicating brandholders must take a stronger stance against aggressive fraudsters.

For the second year, cybersquatting — the practice of abusing trademarks within the domain name system — continued to rank as brandjackers' tool of choice for exploiting reputable brands, growing by 18% in 2008. Brand abuse grew overall across mainstream industry brands including apparel, automotive, high technology and media. In addition, phishers expanded their targets in 2008, with 444 organizations phished for the first time.

"MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index: 2008 — The Year in Review" measures the effect of online threats to brands quarter-over-quarter throughout 2008. The Brandjacking Index investigates trends, including drilled-down analysis of how the most popular brands are abused online and the industries in which abuse is causing the most damage. The report examines how brandjacking tactics — such as cybersquatting, false association, pay-per-click (PPC) abuse, objectionable content, unauthorized sales channels and phishing — have changed over the past year.

"Online brand abuse has reached a critical phase during which new exploits are accelerating while older threats endure, causing real and tangible harm to corporate reputations, intellectual property, customer relations and revenue streams," said Irfan Salim, president and chief executive officer of MarkMonitor. "The good news is that brand holders have resources available to them to take action. The companies who are most successful in fighting abuse are those that make defending their brand a priority at the highest levels of management."

Cybersquatting continues as tool of choice for brandjackers.

Brandjackers increase focus on eCommerce and offensive content abuses to drive revenues.

Abuse across mainstream industry brands including apparel, automotive, high technology and media continues to rise.

The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom continue to host the majority of brandjacking websites.

Phishers move into new verticals, become more targeted, and continue to scale operations.

"Brandjackers are honing their techniques as they continue building their revenue on the good names of leading brands globally," said Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer of MarkMonitor. "That 80 percent of abuse sites identified in our study last year remain active today confirms that abuse is economically sustainable for fraudsters. We expect attacks to grow both internationally and in complexity, further increasing the threat to organizations' reputations and revenues."

The Brandjacking Index is an independent report produced by MarkMonitor that tracks and analyzes abuses of 30 brands from the Best Global Brands study by Interbrand. The cornerstone of the report is the volume of public data analyzed by MarkMonitor using the company's proprietary algorithms — no customer data or proprietary customer information is used to create the Brandjacking Index. MarkMonitor searches approximately 134 million public records daily for brand abuse in domain data as well as U.S. and international Patent and Trademark Office data.

The phishing data MarkMonitor analyzes is based on feeds from leading international Internet Service Providers (ISPs), email providers and other alliance partners. The company has scanned billions of web pages since November 2004 and processes up to 16 million unique suspected phishing emails daily.

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Domain Management, DNS Security, Domain Names, Internet Governance, Law, Spam, New TLDs, Web, Whois