Thursday, April 07, 2011

So hard to protect oneself

Trickery: The Dreadnought Hoaxers, including Virginia Woolf (far left) and Horace de Vere Cole (far right) See Wikipedia for story

It's not easy to be spoof-proof
For us as individuals someone might play a joke on us once in a while
Might even say something nasty or silly online
However spare a thought for the poor corporations of the world who are increasingly vulnerable to hoaxers
Although big companies no doubt have various legal means to curb the activities of impostors once they have revealed themselves
It is difficult and expensive for them to do much to prevent hoaxes in the first place
Buying up all the plausible alternative addresses for your company’s official website would be expensive. 

A quick check on Network Solution revealed that all sorts of other variations are still available to be bought.

The number of website suffixes, and therefore the number of permutations that companies would need to register to defend their brands online, has been multiplying.
And that’s before we get on to social media.

BPGlobalPR, a bogus Twitter feed that mocks BP’s public-relations response to its Gulf of Mexico spill, has gained over 180,000 followers
About ten times as many as the company’s real Twitter account for America.

Surely the real Steve Jobs of Apple cannot be behind this Twitter account(despite its massive 333,000 followers) or this Facebook page.

The possibilities for spoofing seem endless.
So far most online corporate hoaxers seem relatively harmless.

They are doing nothing worse than satirising companies or just having a bit of fun.

But it is not hard to imagine more malign motives: creating a false rumour to profit from manipulating a firm’s share price, for example.

So, added to the emerging risk of having their corporate secrets WikiLeaked (or indeed having their websites attacked by hackers in retaliation for cutting their links with WikiLeaks), firms must also now be constantly on the lookout for online impostors.

Even if the pranksters’ motives are not malign, they can do companies and their brands a great deal of damage, in no time at all.

Now that we’re on internet time, a hoax can travel around the world before the truth has got its boots on.

And there’s no guarantee that all those who read or heard about a fake announcement will get to hear that it was in fact a hoax.
Pity the poor corporation indeed

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