Over the last few months we have seen several examples of the need for companies and their boards to take cybercrime seriously.
From the WannaCry malware to electoral meddling, to reports that banks are no longer refunding money to customers caught out by hackers and scammers, cybersecurity has rarely been out of the news. A detailed review of what company directors, IT and HR teams should be doing to protect themselves was covered in a seminar we ran in June: a summary is available here.
Brand owners are often overlooked in the important role they play in the fight against hackers and scammers. Many scams are perpetrated through websites and email addresses that look familiar, whereas in fact they have been created by fraudsters to dupe consumers into believing they are communicating with a legitimate company instead of a fraudster. Brand owners are able to take action quickly against domain names and email addresses used in such scams, almost anywhere in the world, by commencing actions such as a UDRP complaint. The World Intellectual Property Organization reports that in 2016 the top areas of commerce for UDRP complaints included banking and finance, internet and IT, and biotech and pharmaceuticals. By challenging fraud in these areas, at their own cost, brand owners make a valuable contribution to the prevention of cybercrime and to making the internet a safer place to conduct business.
As the GDPR draws closer, however, we have listened to various bodies and individuals state that information about who has registered a fraudulent domain name (which is currently relied on by brand owners to challenge the misuse of their names in the perpetration of fraud), must now be withdrawn from the public record. If this were to happen, it would become significantly harder for brand owners to take this action: the police and other agencies would then be left to liaise with their international counterparts to track down and eventually take action against criminals, during which time the fraud and the scam will most likely continue unabated. No-one should be happy with that outcome.