Study Says US Hosts Most Brand Abuse

Corporate identity protection provider MarkMonitor ( announced on Monday it has released its annual report, "MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index: 2008 - The Year in Review" which reveals that online abuse of many of the world's leading brands increased significantly in 2008.

The United States continued to lead the rest of the world in the number of branjacked sites it hosts, with 36 percent of phish sites, followed by the Russian Federation, Republic of Korea and France.

The report measures the effect of online threats to brands quarter-over-quarter throughout 2008, as well as investigates these brand abuse trends and the industries they affect.

The report examines how brandjacking tactics - such as cybersquatting, false association, pay-per-click abuse, objectionable content, unauthorized sales channels and phishing - have changed over the past year.

The report reveals that 80 percent of abusive sites found in 2007 are still active today, reaffirming the notion that brandholders must build a stronger defence against these fraudsters.

For the second consecutive year, cybersquatting was found to be most widely used technique for exploiting reputable brands, showing an 18 percent increase in 2008.

Brand abuse in overall across mainstream industry brands including apparel, automotive, high technology and media continued to grow in 2008, showing an increase of 28 percent over the previous year.

Meanwhile, phishers expanded their targets in 2008, with 444 organizations phished for the first time.

With its increasingly sophisticated methods and technology, the tactic continues to be the top brand-related issue for financial institutions.

Phish attacks against other industries, including non-auction, payment services, retail/service or financial brands, increased by 135 percent in 2008 to reach 11,000 sites.

Conversely, phish attacks against retail/service brands decreased by 83 percent in 2008, while attacks against auction brands dropped 67 percent in the second half of the year.

Thirty-six percent of phish sites were hosted in the United States in 2008, followed by the Russian Federation, Republic of Korea and France each at 6 percent, and Germany at 4 percent.

"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," says Irfan Salim, president and CEO 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."

Brandjackers focused more on e-commerce and offensive content abuses to drive revenues, with ecommerce abuse increased by 46 percent over 2008 and 13 percent over the third quarter to a yearly high of 24,589 instances.

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

The Brandjacking Index is an independent report generated by MarkMonitor that tracks and analyzes abuses of 30 brands from the Best Global Brands study by Interbrand.

MarkMonitor searches about 134 million public records daily for brand abuse in domain data as well as US and international Patent and Trademark Office data.

The phishing data MarkMonitor analyzes is based on feeds from international Internet service providers, email providers and other alliance partners.

According to the press release, MarkMonitor has scanned "billions of web pages since November 2004 and processes up to 16 million unique suspected phishing emails daily."

In October, MarkMonitor announced it released its Top Level Domain Advisory Services to assist brandholders in developing customized brand strategies in response to ICANN's expansion of top level domains.

No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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