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Protect your online brand identity

Who has control of your brand?

A cautionary tale…

I’ve been working over the weekend assisting a firm who are in the middle of a distressing situation.

An employee has left his role within the firm but has now decided to conduct himself in a less than professional manner – to put it mildly.

This person worked in an IT capacity and part of his responsibilities involved the setting up of the hosting account for the company website as well as multiple domain registrations.

Unfortunately, the company has only now been made aware that both the hosting account and the domain registrations have all been set-up under the personal name of this ex-employee.

Access to the website CMS has now been restricted by this ex-employee as part of what can only described as a ransom demand before he is willing to hand over control of the hosting account and domains to the rightful owner, the company.

Access to the website CMS has now been restricted by this ex-employee as part of what can only described as a ransom demand before he is willing to hand over control of the hosting account and domains to the rightful owner, the company.

The figure being requested before control of these brand assets will be handed over to the company is in the order of a 6-figure sum.

While there are dispute resolution processes and legal options available, it will all take a certain amount of time and it’s hard to know at this point how this will all play out.

So a note to all business owners:

  1. Check whether your company name or the business owner’s personal name is listed as the Registrant of all company domain names.
  2. Check whether any hosting accounts used for your business website, emails or domain names are in the name of the company or the business owner.
  3. Check that you have access to any admin accounts used by your site, eg Shopify logins, and know what email accounts are listed for admin and billing purposes.

Aside from any bad faith situations such as the current one outlined above, we have seen more innocent situations where the admin email account was not known and domain or hosting renewal email notifications were being missed leading to domains accidentally expiring.

Your domain name is one of your most key company assets.

Losing control of it seriously impacts almost all of your online activity including website, email and every link to a product or blog content ever shared on other sites or on social media.

Treat control of these assets as you would control access to your premises or to your bank accounts.

To arrange a chat with any of our team on any concerns you may have about protecting your brand, please reach out to us on [email protected] and we’ll be happy to assist.

Mark