Monthly Archives: October 2015

Personal Brand Management

Personal Brand Management

We are all vulnerable to an online attack on our reputations; these attacks may present themselves in different forms but the more exposure we get, the greater the chance it may happen. A person with nothing to lose is not a typical target, more often than not the people who are being targeted are successful professionals whose reputations are a valuable asset. Frequently I am asked to consult at the point of crisis and over the years I have had countless conversations with individuals who spent years building up credible profiles and reputations offline only to be caught off guard online.

When in the eye of the storm it’s often difficult to see a way out, but there are steps one can take to minimise risk and prepare. Here are my simple tips to improve your personal brand management and pre-empt problems:

Monitor

Trawling through the internet attempting to find personal mentions in press articles, social media profiles and blogs can be a difficult and time consuming task. There could potentially be entire conversations taking place online about yourself which you might never see. This is why it’s important to have an effective listening tool in place which automatically alerts you to any specific mentions of your name.

Google Alerts is a free service that produces a list of search results, based on criteria provided by you, and delivers those links straight to your e-mail account. This service has a number of uses, but can also be utilised to monitor the web for specific information about you or your company. https://www.google.co.uk/alerts

 Landscape grab

One of the most common methods an individual might use to orchestrate an online reputational attack is via a keyword rich domain. A keyword rich domain is one which includes the name of an individual or company, for instance www.tonymcchrystal.co.uk. These types of keyword rich domain names tend to rank highly in search engines for personal search terms, often appearing on page 1 with little technical support; my personal website has an automatic number 3 ranking in the top 10 search results for the term ‘Tony McChrystal’. If one or more of these domains were to fall into the wrong hands considerable damage can be inflicted. I have also seen multiple instances of domain squatting and attempts to ransom the domains to the associated individuals.  A high profile example of this was the case of Richard Branson.

To combat this, make sure you register your top ranking domains:

Myname.com

Myname.org

Myname.net

Myname.co.uk

And so on…

Social Media Presence

Today’s online user increasingly refers to social media for information regarding products, services and individuals.  What drives this is the need for real information from real people instantly. If you do not have a voice on such platforms, the online user will navigate to third party profiles for this information; these profiles could potentially be displaying negative information which you have no control over.

A verified official profile will always rank top of any searches conducted on social media. As the top search result this will naturally attract more traffic, this way you can have a form of control over what content your audience are being presented with.

twitter

Parody accounts are commonplace on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Such accounts can be taken down by the relevant administrators, but in order for this to happen, you need to know they exist. By using your own official account you more likely to come across them and administrators are more likely to address enquiries promptly and favourably if the take down request is coming from an established verified profile.

Content creation

Once you have control over these assets, they then need to be populated with accurate and interesting content. By promoting these sites and profiles you are adding relevance to them, which in turn will increase their authority. Creating and optimising trusted assets enables you have a vehicle to communicate to potential customers, investors, partners or journalists.

Page 1 of Google is your shop window. The more assets you own or control on that page, the more control you have over your reputation. By proactively managing your online presence you are at the same time building sufficient preventative strength in your search results to protect any future unwelcome content.

TalkTalk Cyber Attack

TalkTalk Cyber Attack:    ReputationDefender top 5 tips to keep your data safe.

 

Last week communications provider TalkTalk came forward to admit a cyber attack on its website could have led to the theft of private data from it’s UK customer base.   The company’s website and computer systems have been compromised three times in just eight months, putting the personal details of up to four million UK customers at risk.  The data in question hadn’t been encrypted, arguably not a legal requirement, but one could argue TalkTalk’s data ethics would have led them to encrypt client data, safeguarding against further cyber attack.

Talk Talk isn’t sure which customers details have been stolen so they cannot look to isolate the problem or identify the customers most at risk. Although TalkTalk have admitted the breach, they are confident the data taken is not enough to cause direct theft from bank accounts or credit cards.    However, lists of customers’ details are understood to be circulating around the dark web, where the following customer information will be currently be up for sale to the highest bidder;

  • Customer names and postal addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • TalkTalk account information
  • Partial credit card details
  • Bank account numbers and sort codes

Unfortunately once this data makes its way onto the dark web it can be passed among criminal gangs for years .We  have  already seen reports of phishing and telephone scams where the victims have received phone calls from the perpetrators armed with their personal TalkTalk account details and have been tricked into handing over their bank details.

There are of course some precautions Talk Talk customers should be taking at this moment in time.

Tony McChrystal, ReputationDefender EMEA Director offer his top 5 tips to help keep your online data safe.

1: Beware of scam calls.

As we have already discussed the scammers need further information to gain access to your bank details. Be cautious of any telephone calls claiming to be from TalkTalk, under no circumstances share any private information.

TalkTalk have this week said it never asks customers to give their full passwords or Pin codes over the telephone.

2: Be careful of emails too.

Using basic design software, scammers can mock up and send very convincing emails that look very official but are actually attackers trying to gather your personal information.

They may even refer to the cyberattack scandal in an attempt to appear genuine.

Again do not share any personal information click on a link or open an attachment. Criminals can set up corporate looking websites to obtain your trust and harvest your account details.

3: Monitor your bank account.

Check your bank account regularly; keep an eye for any unfamiliar looking transactions irrelevant of the amount. Even a £1 transaction could potentially be a risk.

4: Passwords

Talk Talk are advising all customers to change their account passwords as soon as possible.

If like many others you recycle your password across multiple accounts it is just as important to change these.  Attackers may have harvested usernames, email addresses and passwords from TalkTalk which could let them unlock other services such as your email.

If you are in doubt contact Talk Talk directly to verify any recent communication.

5: Talk to a privacy specialist

ReputationDefender find where your data is in the darkest recesses of the Internet and make sure it’s removed and protected for the future. Patented technology supported by a Privacy expert provide unparalled Digital Privacy Protection.

The benefits of online banking and online account management are there for all to see but unfortunately this convenience comes with a real risk, it’s the responsibility of our service providers to manage that risk as best they can but by following the above tips we can also help ourselves.