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Why Domain Names Are Crucial for Both Cybersecurity and Branding

Registering a domain name is an integral part of a company’s early and ongoing branding and strategy. Its creation is one of the first steps towards creating a digital identity.

The possibilities in creating domain names are almost endless. There are billions of letter and number combinations that can be used to create a domain. But at the same time, there is less and less opportunity to

Add to this that there are an estimated 341.7 million domain name registrations as of Q4 2021 and it means that many combinations are likely already taken — making the opportunity to stand out even harder. This also means choosing a domain has never been more important.

But there is also a second, equally important consideration here — the need to ensure you can protect your business and customers online. The astronomical number of possible domain names not only complicates creating your digital identity, but it also multiplies the possibilities for bad actors to use almost identical domain names to perpetuate phishing attacks and potentially causing significant hits to your digital reputation and revenue.

Choosing the right domain is therefore crucial to creating recognisable, stand-out, and instant branding. And selecting a domain that provides protection against online threats and phishing risk solutions will ensure that you can best protect that brand, your customers and your staff. All while creating a solid digital identity and reputation.

The domain name landscape — going beyond TLDs

It is essential that a company can effectively brand itself online. A domain is a key aspect of that branding — and thus has to be instantly recognisable and convey the right meaning. When it comes to domain branding, companies are increasingly looking after the dot to better achieve differentiation.

Since they were first introduced in 1984, Top-Level Domains (TLDs) — essentially everything to the right of the dot in a domain name — are a central component of the internet. Along with a company’s branding, they are also a crucial component of the online brand. 

Historically, the options for more effective branding in TLDs has been rather limited. But for just over a decade now, a new type of TLDs has been seeing greater adoption — especially by SMEs and startups wanting greater brand recognition. Introduced by ICANN in 2012, new TLDs, such as .LTD, .Live, or .Studio, allow for greater expression and thus instant brand recognition with a descriptive domain name.

For example, these descriptive domains can be an exact word-match for the name of the company, such as the website that you are reading this article on, Threat.Technology. Or, it can be a signifier of what the company does or sells — such as an email provider using a “.email” to make it obvious who and what they are, even to those who haven’t heard of them before. These types of domains not only provide greater brand recognition, but also can have a positive impact on search engine optimisation (SEO).

For young companies in particular, there is a significant benefit in choosing a descriptive domain when it comes to securing partners and financial investors. Looking at the startups that have raised funds in recent years, we see that many are those that choose to stand out with a descriptive domain. This shows that efficient branding carries greater investor confidence — and could help in securing more financing.

Protecting your domain to protect your brand identity

In this digital-first era, having a reliable and secure digital fingerprint is a necessity.

With 76% of businesses reporting being a victim of a phishing attack in the past year, companies of any size and at every stage of their journey must look to solutions to automate the protection of their digital identity. For homograph attacks in particular, companies can use their unique domain as a key pillar of a proactive security strategy.

Homograph attacks see hackers using a company’s own domain against them by registering a lookalike domain name to trick internet users into clicking malicious links. This can erode trust in your business and brand and allows hackers to breach defences to steal the site’s or customer’s data.

These types of attacks can be difficult to remain constantly vigilant against, especially considering there are potentially billions of homographic variations possible through similar-looking characters from other alphabets. The key therefore lies in the ability to automate this protection.

When a business registers its domain name in an Identity Digital TLD, the security algorithm calculates all commonly known homographic variations of your domain name and prevents them from being registered by any potential bad actor. This allows businesses to build an authentic online identity, knowing that your customers and staff are protected from homograph phishing attacks.

Embedding the right approach to branding and security

When it comes to your online presence, branding and security must go hand-in-hand.

If this is done correctly from the start, then it is easier to be set up for success. But even if your company is well-established, these concerns still need to be addressed. Fortunately, you can have both at the same time through a unique domain name and automated domain name protection.

Working with the right partner is key to achieving this efficiently. A good partner will ensure that a company does not have to over-invest in ongoing protection — allowing them to focus on other business-critical operations — while having a comprehensive selection of unique domains available to ensure they can further brand recognition and SEO goals.

Many companies are waking up to the fact they can have the best of both worlds — those yet to do so must move quickly to gain the advantage, or risk losing out.

Author

Brian Lonergan

Senior Director of Product at Identity Digital

Identity Digital Inc. simplifies and connects the online world with domain names and related technologies to empower people to build, market, and own their authentic digital identities. With the world’s largest portfolio of nearly 300 TLDs such as .live, .technology, and .restaurant, Identity Digital operates around 25 million domains on its innovative registry services platform. In addition, Identity Digital enables customers to discover, register, support and use high-quality domain names with its registrar, Name.com. Headquartered in Bellevue, WA, and with offices worldwide, Identity Digital is a global company with approximately 250 employees. For more information, please visit identity.digital.

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