Articles Archives - CusterAgency

Making Cloud Security Experience As Safe And Sound And Secure As Possible

Posted by | Articles, Uncategorized | No Comments

Has your business adopted cloud computing yet? The private investigators in Boise see several benefits and drawbacks to this new technology. The benefits revolve around how fast IT delivery can be, the increase in productivity, financial streamlining and that it can keep any business running like a tight ship. The disadvantages stem from the challenges related to security of the sheer volume of information that can be kept in and pulled from the cloud. With multiple vendors and specific departments needing accessibility to some parts of the cloud and not others, the technology can become a Chief Information Security Officer’s worst nightmare.

The Need For Better Visibility

Because of the multi-layered needs of cloud users, many businesses have adopted different cloud formations. The private investigators in Boise state that private, public cloud and hybrid network technologies are one way to split the workload. However, the challenge still exists on visibility. Cloud-based workloads are harder to actual ‘see’ than those contained on a physical network. One way to control the cloud activity is through data governance. In other words, knowing where information is stored, where it is being shared and what cloud services are being used by the company. Without visibility it is impossible to enforce policies and control risk factors.

Compliance Issues

The private investigators in Boise also see compliance as another issue related to cloud storage and use. For example, questions to be asked when a company shifts all data files to the cloud environment should include the following:

  • Where exactly is the data going to be stored?
  • Who will be responsible for tracking and watching the data?
  • Who can see the data and can access/visibility be controlled in-house?
  • What is the security level of the cloud format being used?
  • Has the data been securely configured prior to movement?

The type of data can vary from personal information to payment data and intellectual property. Each of these contains their own standards in storage in order to be compliant.

Controlling The Situation

CISOs have such a complex IT environment to sort out in today’s world. It includes multiple endpoints that fluctuate constantly as a result of different mobile devices and desktops. Hybrid environments are as challenging but somewhat easier to control once security configurations in the cloud are made. The biggest part of the puzzle of securing cloud storage comes directly from the company using the technology. They need to control who has access to what which will eliminate a lot of unauthorized access, sharing and reducing risk at the same time.

Ask The Private Investigators in Boise

Not sure whether or not your cloud service is secure enough or that you have enough control over it? Advice from the private investigators in Boise can help. Be aware of what is stored and shared and by whom. A secure system is only as secure as the people who use it for the purpose it was designed. For more advice contact Custer Agency today.

10 Tips For Protecting Your Identity Both Online and Offline

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

The private investigators in Boise say identity theft continues to be an active crime. With thanks to new technology and tech savvy thieves, it is becoming more important daily to protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. The good news is that you can take several steps to reduce the risk of your personal information getting into the wrong hands. Here are a few:

1 – Shred It, Don’t Throw It Away

Important documents that you no longer need should not be crumbled up and tossed with the trash. Although thieves don’t typically root through garbage anymore, you do risk having personal information gathered. A good way to avoid this is with a personal shredder, which will destroy the paperwork before you dispose of it.

2 – Lock Your Mailbox

If you have mail delivered to a box at the end of your driveway or sidewalk, replace your mailbox with one that can be locked. Check your mail frequently and for letters containing sensitive data, opt for those to be delivered to a post office so you can pick them up personally.

3 – Leave Government Documents At Home

The private investigators in Boise say passports, birth certificates and social security cards should not be with you unless you require them for that day. For the rest of the time these important identity documents should be stored in a secure location in your home.

4 – Use Antivirus And Spyware Software

With computer use increasing daily one of the best ways to protect your online information is by using antivirus and spyware programs. Even if you have to pay a small annual fee it is worth it to protect your data from hackers.

5 – Passwords

The private investigators in Boise suggest changing your passwords often. This will give you a layer of security if you keep changing them every six months. Just be sure to not use the same password for all your online accounts.

6 – Watch Where You Shop

If you spend a fair amount of time online shopping, keep your shopping habits to sites that are secure. You can tell when one is if a small ‘padlock’ icon appears in the address window at the top of your computer screen. If you don’t see the padlock, do not offer personal information including your credit card.

7 – Cool It On Social Media

Another timely tip from the private investigators in Boise is to reduce the amount of personal information you share in social media sites. There’s nothing wrong with sharing and posting it’s just that you need to be aware of what you share. Posting photos of credit cards, driver’s licenses and such is not a good idea.

8 – Wifi Security

Public wifi signals are all around us but are they secure? Even if you use public wifi on a regular basis, it is wise to not submit passwords, personal information or login data when using a public signal. This is where many hackers lurk.

9 – Monitor Accounts

One more way to protect yourself, according to the private investigators in Boise is to keep regular checks on your online accounts. Banks and online companies are getting better at blocking unauthorized sign ins but you must remember to sign out of programs to prevent someone from gaining access just by picking up one of your devices and walking away with it.

10 – Contact the Private Investigators In Boise

At Custer Agency we can give you advice on how to better protect your identity online and off. We can provide you with information on what sources to use and which ones to avoid. Let the experience our private investigators in Boise have work in your favor and give you peace of mind.

How Technology Has Changed The Way Private Investigators Work

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

How Technology Has Changed The Way Private Investigators Work

The private investigators in Boise have always concentrated on field work which puts a detective out of the office and tracking information leads. However, thanks to new technology such as the internet, many investigators conduct their searches online. But if you had to guess what the split was between field work and online investigations, what would you think it would be?

Well, there are several variables but basically speaking, the average detective will spend half of his time in the field and the rest online. This does depend on the kind of investigation being conducted. An example where technology has shifted the workload is in record checks. Now that the majority of records accessed for investigative purposes are online, libraries and dark, dingy storage facilities housing decades of paper files are not necessarily where a PI will spend days.

For a better picture of the kinds of work the private investigators in Boise do, let’s break it down into two different categories.

Online Investigations

An online investigation for the purpose of this example is anything that a detective would have once done in person but can accomplish now through the internet. The top three online investigation types in 2016 were:

1 – Record Checks and Retrieval – up to 87% of this work was conducted online

2 – Background Investigations (Personal, Financial) – up to 79% online

3 – Locate A Person (Missing, Lost Relative, etc.) – up to 76% online

On Location Investigations

An on location investigation would be a case where a detective is conducting work in the field, away from the office and not on a computer. The top three on location investigation types in 2016 were:

1 – Infidelity (requiring personal interviews, photography, etc.) – up to 87% in the field

2 – Post-Relationship (Custody, Alimony) – up to 73% conducted on location

3 – Harassment – up to 63% on location

Trust The Private Investigators In Boise

Of course, there are crimes that have developed as a result of the new technology that require almost exclusive online investigative techniques such as catfishing and social media investigations. On the other hand, security and witness interviewing would be almost exclusively field work. Regardless of what your requirements are, Custer Agency can help. Contact the private investigators in Boise today for more information.

 

8 Ways To Beef Up Your Home’s Internet Security

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

Your home internet system can be a gold mine for a hacker seeking information from you. The private investigators in Boise know how much personal information can be hidden on the average laptop, desktop or tablet. To help you better protect your person data, here are some tips:

There are essentially two places you can tighten up security in your home internet system. The ‘front door’ to access your network is the router. The second place is the actual devices that contain your information. Let’s break both down and look at how you can take control of each so you don’t become a victim of identity theft.

1 – Router – Change The Default Admin Password

Default admin passwords are easily found on the internet. In order to stop instant access to your router, go to its configuration page and look for where the default password it listed. Often it is as easy as ‘admin’ or something similar. The private investigators in Boise say that by changing it to something else, you will be the only person able to change the settings that can be accessed from the same page.

2 – Router – Disable Remote Management

The nifty thing about remote management is that if you are not at home and need to access your computer, you can. It also means skillful hackers can as well. If your router has this feature, disable it. If you have to call support to do this, do it.

3 – Router – Change SSID

The SSID identifies your network. If you were looking for a local network on your device, the name that shows up on screen is the SSID. Default SSIDs include such things as ‘dlink’ or ‘linksys’ but by changing yours you can more or less hide your network in a neighborhood of networks.

4 – Router – Enable Network Encryption

When you enable encryption to your network (normally identified as WEP, WAP or WAP2) you change your network to a password only accessible system. Be sure to choose a password that includes digits, upper and lower case letters and if possible, punctuation marks to make guessing even more difficult.

5 – Router – Filter MAC Addresses

The MAC address is a unique ID for a specific device, like a fingerprint. You can configure your router to only allow access to the MAC addresses of the devices used in your home by family. This eliminates outside devices from joining. You will need to configure to add new devices when your family acquires one.

6 – Devices – Protect Against Viruses

Antivirus protection is essential even on smartphones and other handheld devices. Download the latest antivirus program and be sure to keep it current. The private investigators in Boise say updating regularly provides some extra protection.

7 – Devices – File Sharing

The private investigators in Boise say that file sharing within your network makes for some easy work being passed between family members. However, it also allows for fast retrieval of personal data by someone who has gained access to your network. If you do not require file sharing, you can disable this at the source.

8 – Devices – Shut It Off

When you are not using your computers or router for an extended period of time, during a vacation away from home as an example, power down everything. This should include computers, phones and routers. This removes any possibility of a hacker entering your system when you are not at home.

Trust The Private Investigators In Boise

The internet has changed the way we communicate and shop. It also has opened up a whole new channel for thieves to capture personal information. To protect your privacy, use these tips provided by the private investigators in Boise at Custer Agency. For more information on internet security, call them today.

 

Common Con Jobs

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

If you have ever been tempted by the lure of making money quickly, chances are you have had exposure to a con job. The private investigators in Boise have spent a great deal of time investigating several different schemes that fall under the category of fraud investigation services. To be safe from getting caught up in a fraudulent offer, there are a number of signs to watch out for. They include, but are not limited to the following:

1 – You’re A Lucky Winner

The way this con operates is that a letter, email or phone call is received indicating you have just won the lottery. The hook here is that in order to claim the prize, you must first provide personal details either online or on the phone. The lottery is often ‘staged’ to be in a foreign country or in the name of a non-existent charity. Once you provide the requested information you do not receive the cash prize as you’ve given away personal data that can be used in identity theft.

2 – Going Through The Roof

This particular con comes from an offer of extremely cheap home improvement services that can be roof repairs or any other renovation project. The scammers will request an upfront partial payment or suggest you file an insurance claim. After the payment is received a poorly executed repair ensues and then they disappear. This leaves you with addition work required on your home to repair the scammers repair and your insurance provider puts you on a black list.

3 – Rich Nigerian Prince Needs Help

Here is a very common con that has touched the lives of many people you already know. A member of royalty or of significant stature in a foreign country makes contact with you. It was a common fax machine scam before email, but now it’s as common there. The ‘Prince’ needs to transfer a huge amount of money into your bank account just to ‘hold’ for a period of time. All they need to know in order to do this is your banking information. The private investigators in Boise don’t have to tell you what can happen to you if you fall for this one, do they?

Don’t Get Scammed, Call The Private Investigators in Boise

Custer Agency has seen all kinds of games designed to separate you from your hard earned cash. Don’t get sucked into a con job. Watch for the signs as most of them follow similar patterns. For fraud investigation services, give the private investigators in Boise a call at Custer Agency today.

Tips To Catching A Cheating Spouse

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

Betrayal tends to have a larger impact when the source of it is your spouse or significant other. The private investigators in Boise can help you gather the right evidence in the case of an infidelity lawsuit. But before you start to jump to conclusions, you really need to do some of your own homework. Here are a few tips on how to catch a cheating spouse.

1 – Stay Within The Law

Even if you have strong suspicions that something is happening behind your back, you still have to respect the privacy of the people you suspect. In fact, if you violate this and things go sideways for you, you could end up in court as a result. Any tips you’ve seen on TV or in the internet ranging from hacking phones and bugging vehicles is just illegal and can end up costing you a lot more than your marriage.

2 – Monitor Their Phone

While still staying within the law, you can learn things by checking for any changes in phone activity without violating their privacy. Such clues include your spouse leaving the room to take some phone calls; your spouse taking their phone with them everywhere even sleeping with it and; a PIN that you once knew that has been changed. If the phone has caller ID and you can still access it, do a quick scroll and see if there are numbers you don’t recognize. You can do a search of the sources of those phone numbers later.

3 – Computer History

Provided your spouse has not learned how to delete the browser history from a family computer, which you have legal access to, you can always look at the records of the pages and websites they have visited. Dating sites, social media pages and other uncommon sites visited could yield a clue or two. If they frequently erase the browser history, this could also mean something is going on.

4 – Record Activities

The private investigators in Boise agree that if you document your spouse’s activities such as visits to the ATM, trips and unexpected absences from home or work, you may be able to identify a pattern.

Call the Private Investigators in Boise

Custer Agency has experience in researching the activities of a cheating spouse. This is why you should conduct some of your own investigating before you contact the private investigators in Boise. Sometimes the unexplained activities that appear to point to cheating may be something completely different such as a personal family problem or even an addiction. This is why you must be certain before you seek legal advice. For more tips call Custer Agency today.

The Science Behind Eyewitness Identification

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

Eyewitness identification is not a reliable as you may think. The private investigators in Boise see this on a regular basis particularly when police line ups are used to identify a suspect in a crime. The eyewitnesses are more likely to misidentify someone than actually identify the guilty party. It has become such a problem that studies have been conducted to try to determine what needs to be done to increase the reliability of eyewitness identification.

Proper Instructions Are Necessary

One of the key findings was that the instructions provided to eyewitnesses must be clear. The tendency for identification based on whoever looks most like the suspect in relation to the rest of the people in the line up produces several false positives. The way this can be remedied is when an eyewitness is viewing a line up for the first time is by instructing them that the true suspect may not even be in the line up. This alone relaxes eyewitnesses who feel pressured to identify someone even if they are not 100-percent positive themselves.

Using Double-Blind Procedures

Another method of eyewitness identification supported by the private investigators in Boise is known as double-blind. This is where neither the eyewitness nor the person administering the line up process knows who the suspect is. If the lineup administrator was aware of the suspect’s identity they could, even unintentionally, provide clues to the eyewitness though body language, facial expressions and even verbally. When double-blind procedures are used, studies show the contamination of the process risk is greatly reduced.

Timing Of Statements

Eyewitness memories tend to be more accurate the sooner a statement is gathered from the time of initial identification. By using proper identification procedures and questioning early in the timeline of a crime produces much more reliable data in order to properly identify a suspect. In other words, the more time that passes between initial identification and the statement procedure, the less likely the eyewitness will remember certain details. Witnesses are more confident in their recollection of details when they are still fresh in their mind and this contributes to the accuracy of early statement gathering.

Count On The Private Investigators In Boise at Custer Agency

At Custer Agency, we understand the science behind eyewitness identification and utilize the proper questioning techniques to increase reliability. For more information on how the private investigators in Boise can help with your eyewitness identification information, call us today.

All About Social Media Investigations

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

The challenge facing private investigators in Boise with social media investigations goes far beyond the simple screenshot. In fact, a screenshot may be enough proof for you but there is a whole lot more evidence required if a court case uses social media information.

The key behind the successful use of data collected from such sites as Facebook and MySpace is being able to properly authenticate the information. This takes on a completely different layer of information which does not appear in a screenshot. In fact, a screenshot does not include any of the information known as metadata. In other words, it just scratches the surface.

The Kinds Of Metadata Collected

As the private investigators in Boise will explain to you that while a screenshot is some kind of evidence, it is nothing more than an electronic capture of content. The forms of metadata required to properly authenticate a photo or other piece of information pulled from a social media feed include but are not limited to the following:

  • URLs of links that are included in the original online posting
  • The unique ID of the thread the original message appears in
  • The platform plus applications used in creating the original post
  • The total number of post comments that appear related to the original

Provided all of these pieces of the metadata puzzle have been properly collected and preserved, they can work together with other kinds of evidence, including non-digital, to authenticate a post. Without the proper tools and knowledge of metadata, evidence collected may not stand up in court so it is essential that social media investigations are conducted thoroughly.

The Right Tools Make The Difference

Just like a carpenter will tell you, without the correct tool for the job, there is going to be a problem concerning quality of craftsmanship. The same can be said about social media investigations. However, the tools necessary for gathering digital metadata have been developed in recent years. The private investigators in Boise know how to use these tools when required.

For More Information Contact Custer Agency

Are you in need of better evidence related to a matter where social media contains the information that can help with your case? Call the private investigators in Boise at Custer Agency for assistance. They have experience in this relatively new form of evidence gathering and can locate and preserve the metadata you will need to use as evidence in your case.

The Online Disinhibition Effect, and What It Means for Online Reputation Management

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

by Dylan Evans (ACE, CEH, CHFI, A+, Network+), Digital Forensic Investigator for Custer Agency Inc.


When was the last time somebody a total stranger walked up to your face and spat in your eye while simultaneously insulting your life choices? Maybe they punched you in the stomach afterward, and then spraypainted an angry caricature of your face on your car window for good measure?

If you’re like most people, this situation isn’t something that happens very often (if it’s a common occurrence, my heart goes out to you and I suggest taking up martial arts lessons), but on the internet that is a different picture altogether. We live in a world where “cyberbullying” leads to teenage suicides, poor Google and Yelp ratings can lead to total business shutdown, and as in the case of Justine Sacco, a single tweet can end a career and completely ruin a person’s reputation for the rest of their life. As innocent and pointless as social media may seem, the fact remains that our modern society is chained to it by the throat. It’s a near-impossibility to walk a block down the road and not see “Like Us on Facebook” or the Twitter icon on everything from park benches to milk cartons.

Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management

Spend two minutes reading the comments section of any given YouTube video, and one thing becomes clear: the internet is not a nice place. The seemingly endless wellspring of vitriol and negativity that pours out of the web like a backed up toilet seems to be at odds with the behavior expected from a civilized society. Why, then, is there such a harsh juxtaposition between people’s public behavior and how they act online? To quote Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

Dr. John Suler, Professor of Psychology at Rider University, is one of the world’s foremost experts in this phenomenon, which he has dubbed the “Online Disinhibition Effect.” As he identifies in his 2004 titular paper, people’s behavior online is the result of lowered inhibitions due to a high degree of perceived anonymity that is not present in real face-to-face interactions. [1]

“There’s a large crowd and you can act out in front of it without paying any personal price to your reputation,” says Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor at New York University who studies social and economic effects of Internet technologies, and this “creates conditions most likely to draw out the typical Internet user’s worst impulses.” [2] Clearly, this type of environment can lead to discussions and outward expressions of a person’s most deeply-buried rage that would not manifest in real face-to-face interactions.

Dr. Suler identifies six key components to the “online disinhibition effect:” dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. More simply, a person in the throes of online disinhibition feels that their audience doesn’t know them and can’t see them. They feel that, given the post-and-respond nature of internet discussions, they can leave the conversation whenever they want, and because of the impersonal nature of the situation they tend to feel like it’s more “in their head” and game-like than a real human interaction. The behavior is finally cemented by the internet being largely unregulated, with a lack of central authority and overall consequences for a user’s actions.

In a nutshell, the particular nuances of internet communication – specifically the combination of perceived anonymity and the removal of the perception that the other people in the conversation are real human beings – leads to a perfect storm of conditions that tends to bring out the worst in people. Internet trolls see it like a video game; they pop in, spray some offensive virtual graffiti, and disappear back into the real world and their real lives, almost like they’re controlling a game character instead of representing themselves as a person. Likewise, the people they offend are perceived as mere background elements of an artificial world, not as living breathing people.

If the internet existed like it 1990s – in a space almost entirely separate from the real world, occupied by a fringe minority of the population– this wouldn’t be so bad, but unfortunately, that is far from our modern reality. Nearly every person, business, and object is connected to the internet, and as we have explored, lives can be permanently ruined in 140 characters or less. Like a terrifying cybernetic elephant, the internet never forgets.

So what does all of this mean for businesses, especially regarding online reputation management? Simple: be aware of the threat, and be cautious. We live in an interesting time where online content can have serious, long-reaching real world effects – good and bad – for individuals and business entities while simultaneously dealing with the fact that the very users creating that content express themselves as if they’re merely playing a game.

There is nothing stopping an angry customer, disgruntled employee, or scorned ex from starting a false rumor campaign and getting their social media followers behind it. If you think this doesn’t happen on a daily basis, think again. Businesses have been ruined by simple misunderstandings that turned into Facebook rants, and with the advent of “sharing”, those rants are given the opportunity to live forever online. Social media users just click “like,” “share,” and move on with their day, but with every click the false rumors replicates, spreading like cancer across the internet.

Consider the following case, which happened right here in Boise: A local small business was hiring for a position, and rejected a particular applicant’s resume. That applicant was so offended that he started a Facebook page for a fictitious class-action lawsuit against the business, claiming that their services caused damage to their customers’ property. The angry applicant took things further and created several fake Facebook pages for the business employees, and proceeded to send angry and threatening messages to the business’s real customers. One of those customers was so offended that he took a screenshot of the message, posted it on his Facebook timeline, and called for a boycott of the business.

That post was subsequently shared over one thousand times. The rumors spread so far, one of the local news stations volunteered to do a story on all the alleged damages caused by the business and the owner’s “offensive outbursts,” without ever bothering to validate the source of that information.

The real business owner had no idea this whole situation was happening until a news crew showed up outside his office.

What I have described is, unfortunately, a growing problem, and a prime example of the real world consequences that can result from online disinhibition. When a person feels they are safely anonymous and they have an audience, the smallest bit of anger can be amplified to a terrifying magnitude.

Again, as far as online reputation management goes, the biggest takeaway is to be aware and to be cautious. A little-misplaced anger can go a long way, so don’t take the threat of trolls lightly. At the same time, the worst thing that a business could do is purposely avoid the internet altogether in an attempt to hide from the vitriolic fringe. No matter what, if you upset somebody they will take it online. Instead of just letting rumors and rage freely poison your reputation, why not be present to provide a counterargument?

How do you do that? Stay engaged with your online audience. Whatever business you’re in, be transparent, be open, and make your dedication to integrity obvious. Having a community of positive supporters behind you can easily drown out the screaming of an online troll, but if you aren’t engaging with your audience, the only voice that will be heard is the offended one.

To quote Napoleon Bonaparte, “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” By regularly engaging with your online audience and truly listening to them as individuals, a business creates a community of supporters that can drown out even the most fervent of trolls.

And if you’re responding to someone online, try to remember they’re a real person. Don’t virtually punch them in the face, because you might give them a serious headache in the real world.

[1] – Suler, John (2004). “The Online Disinhibition Effect”. CyberPsychology & Behavior 7 (3): 321–326. doi:10.1089/1094931041291295. Retrieved 10 March 2013.

[2] – Doig, Will (February 26, 2008). “Homophobosphere”. The Advocate (1002). Retrieved January 24, 2010.

Protect more than data — protect your firm’s identity

Posted by | Articles | No Comments

Data Protection

In this column, we often discuss various means for businesses to protect their own assets. For small businesses especially, it might be easy to imagine assets only as tangible entities: money, employees, equipment and so forth.

But what about protecting the intangible? Even the smallest businesses are storing data digitally. In a greater sense, they are participating in a digital marketplace with websites and social media. And let’s look beyond data. What about protecting a business’s identity itself?

To answer this question, we met with Brad Frazer, a Boise attorney, a partner at Hawley Troxell Attorneys and Counselors, and an expert in all matters related to intellectual property and Internet law. He identified four categories of intellectual property: copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

These categories are often confused and misunderstood by business owners, but they are really quite simple to understand.

  • Copyrights give the owner the legal right to exclusive use and distribution.
  • A patent is a set of exclusive rights legally granted in exchange for public disclosure of an invention.
  • Trademarks include logos, brands, labels, signatures, packaging and any other graphical representation of goods or services that can be legally protected.
  • Finally, trade secrets refer to methods, formulas, and procedures that are not available to the general public.

Each of these categories constitutes a business’s identity, yet when most small business owners think of protecting the intangible assets, they think only as far as the data stored on their computers. It’s easy to conceptualize an Excel file containing customer data, or a set of emails stored on an external server. But protecting intellectual property is essential for businesses of every size. Remember, if your business is using the Internet, it is really competing in a global marketplace, and that makes it essential to legally protect your intellectual property.

This protection goes far beyond merely filing trademark and copyright applications. Social media and websites have changed the game when it comes to protecting your brand or business. Anybody with an Internet connection and a handful of change can log on to GoDaddy or Register.com and register a domain name that isn’t in use. (A domain is simply an Internet identifier, such as “custeragency.com,” “nasa.gov,” or “idahostatesman.com.”)

So what happens when somebody decides to take the name of your third-generation family business, register it as a domain and start hosting porn on it? Would that be good for your business identity? What if your biggest competitor grabs it instead?

During our interview, Mr. Frazer gave us some solid advice about registering domain names and social media accounts: “If you don’t, somebody else will.” To extrapolate, he recommends securing at least 20 domains around each trademark held by your business and creating an account on the top 10 social media sites for each trademark.

Creating such a large online presence for each trademark allows legal recourse in the event of intellectual property theft. There really is no excuse for a business to ignore these steps. It might seem like a lot of work, but in reality, it is about an afternoon’s worth of creating free accounts.

Domains are exceptionally cheap, so registering 20 domains might cost a business from $40 to $400 depending on whether the business took advantage of online coupons. Either way, it’s a microscopic investment in preventing someone else from appropriating your company’s identity.

In our next article, we will continue the discussion of intellectual property as it applies to small and medium-sized businesses. In the meantime, take a look at your business’s own online presence. If it’s underwhelming, the least you can do is spend an hour registering social media accounts. Remember: “If you don’t, somebody else will.”

This article originally appeared on the IdahoStatesman website.