In 2014, Internet users who were used to seeing .COM or .ORG websites are starting to also see things like .CLOTHING and .GURU. In fact, the Internet will expand to over a thousand of these new gTLDs that users will have to navigate online.
Brands – whether or not they applied for a .BRAND of their own – will find themselves on a level playing field. The most secure, innovative, and exciting places online will be up for grabs. But as brands and entrepreneurs try new ways to deliver content to Internet users, consumers will be navigating potentially dangerous territories.
Cybersquatters register domain names containing brand names, or typos of brand names, to take advantage of consumers’ trust in those brands and consumers’ confusion when they land on a cybersquatted page – they do it now in extensions like .COM and .INFO, and they are already starting to do so new extensions as well.
According to recent research, 1 out of 20 Internet users know nothing about new gTLDs. However, with just a small amount of information, comfort with new extensions rose by 11%. Consumer education is a major tool for protecting brands and their consumers from bad actors who could take advantage of Internet user confusion.
- Educating them about the new gTLD program and what to look for: they can start here.
- Maintaining clear and consistent branding and naming conventions across your domain name portfolio.
- Defensively registering domain names that your consumers are likely to visit.
- Keeping track of popular scams and provide that information to your consumers.
- Having a clear place for customer service, where consumers can report suspicious activity on potentially cybersquatted sites.
- Coordinate with law enforcement – contact the Internet Crime Complain Center to let them know your consumers are being misled by a cybersquatted site: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.