Perspectives

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Reputation ransomware - beware business 'directories'

Reputation ransomware - beware business 'directories'

In an internet age, regular reviews of your company's digital footprint and how it may have been appropriated by bots scraping your content is important to do on a regular basis. Sites seeking to mash ransomware with customer reviews are now popping up. The way it works is your information is scraped from your site or social media pages and then a page created for your company.  Reviewers can then post whatever they choose about your company.  You are required to log into the site and 'claim' your listing.  In some instances, you may be charged to transform your 'free' listing into some kind of service-based listing - for example, premium accounts have the additional options they can take when a negative review is posted. In many instances, the identities of the reviewers are obscured so that it is impossible to tell whether the reviewer is a real person or not, or an employee of the review site.  An additional danger is the site may be actively soliciting you to claim the listing with incorrect information and requiring additional information with the goal of data mining, identity theft or levying charges to your bank account.  Treat sites like these in the same way as you would treat spoofed emails from legitimate accounts you own such as your bank account and do not give them your information.


There are real sites and apps that have significant followings that carry reviews, like FourSquare, Yelp, Angie's List, and others, as well as directories such as theYellow Pages and Better Business Bureau - although the latter has also been tainted by pay to play press.  But beware of these so-called business directory listing sites that are popping up and mashing data to create what are effectively reputation ransomware sites. 

Recourse can be difficult.  Some of your options include writing an abuse email to the domain registrar of the company and or the hosting company for the business directory site. If you did not create the listing and they are claiming you did, you can report the site to your state's attorney general and the FBI.  In instances like these, one complaint may not be enough, but if multiple reports cross their inbox, they will investigate.

 

 

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

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