MarkMonitor® has reported that the online abuse of leading brands rose in 2008. The report stated that 80% of the abusive sites in 2007 were still active in 2008. Cybersquatting continues to rank highest as the means for exploiting brands. MarkMonitor’s® Brandjacking Index investigates trends on how the most popular brands are abused online and the industries causing the most abuse. It appears that the companies most successful in fighting abuse defend their brand at the highest levels of management. It appears that the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom host the majority of brandjacking websites. Phishing has increased tremendously in the financial services, up 135%.
Cybersquatting continues as tool of choice for brandjackers.
•Cybersquatting rose 18 percent during 2008, making it the most perpetrated form of abuse for the second year in a row.
•A total of 440,584 instances of cybersquatting were identified in Q4, followed by 86,837 instances of false association and 33, 614 instances of pay-per-click abuse.
•Consistent and notable quarter-over-quarter growth in cybersquatting for two years demonstrates that brandjackers are increasingly leveraging trademarks as they make use of best practices in search engine optimization to divert traffic to illegitimate or unauthorized sites.
•Brandjackers are combining cybersquatting with other abuses, a practice called "blended abuse," to attack brand reputations.
Brandjackers increase focus on eCommerce and offensive content abuses to drive revenues.
•eCommerce abuse grew by 46 percent over 2008 and 13 percent over Q3 to a yearly high of 24,589 instances.
•Offensive content abuse grew by 21 percent over 2008 and 23 percent over Q3.
•Brandjackers increasingly leverage search engine optimization techniques for eCommerce and offensive content abuse to drive revenues.
Abuse across mainstream industry brands including apparel, automotive, high technology and media continues to rise.
•Abuses of apparel brands rose 28 percent in 2008. Other industries experienced notable growth in brand attacks in 2008 including automotive at 21 percent, high technology at 21 percent, and food and beverage at 17 percent.
•Abuse of media brands reached a yearly high of 43,832 instances, signifying an 11 percent increase in 2008.
•Phishing remains the top brand-related problem for financial institutions due to increasingly sophisticated methods and technology.
The United States, Germany and the United Kingdom continue to host the majority of brandjacking websites.
•While brand abuse is prevalent through the world, for the second year the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom are home to the majority of brandjacking websites.
•68 percent of websites that host brand abuse are hosted in the United States. Germany hosts 9 percent followed by the United Kingdom at 4 percent. Canada hosts 4 percent.
•English speaking countries account for 80 percent of the top 15 countries hosting brandjacking websites.
Phishers move into new verticals, become more targeted, and continue to scale operations.
•A total of 444 organizations were phished for the first time in 2008 as fraudsters continued to exploit opportunities to find new targets. Additionally, 422 organizations were phished in Q4 2008, an increase of 8 percent from Q3 2008 and 7 percent over the previous year.
•Phish attacks against "other" industries (non-auction, payment services, retail/service or financial brands) reached 11,000 in 2008, a 135 percent increase.
•Attacks against payment services brands increased 122 percent in the second half of the year. Attacks against financial services brands increased 51 percent in the second half of the year, a rise MarkMonitor attributes to the current economic crisis.
•Phish attacks against retail/service brands dropped 83 percent in 2008 and attacks against auction brands dropped 67 percent in the second half of the year.
•A total of 36 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.