You build a great brand over 20 years and all it takes is two days to destroy it, on the Net. That's what some cyber criminals do for a living, and their services are not expensive compared to the value that competitors or enemies get in return.
Recently, a leading Indian property developer in India launched a mega housing project. The developer advertised on the internet and attracted buyers online as the company planned to sell more than 50% of their property to overseas buyers.
When potential customers started searching the site to know more about the projects, they were directed to blog sites, which spoke of the problems in their existing projects, and included images and videos. Subsequently their competitors used these blogs to advertise their own properties.
An investigation found that these blogs were hosted on servers based abroad and it was difficult for a local Indian company to go against them. Cases were filed in the US and Germany using privacy laws, which resulted in removal of the blogs. But the damage had already been done.
Cyber defamation is a growing tool in brand wars in the business world. Government agencies, celebrities and politicians too use these services. It is an organized racket and anyone can hire these racketeers for a price.
"Cyber defamation attacks and their counter defences assume paramount importance in today's fragile economic age," says Satheesh G Nair, MD (Apac) of Stickman Consulting, a cyber crime investigation firm. He says that in a country that is as socio-culturally varied as India, even the integrity of the nation can suffer on account of cyber defamation. "The ban on bulk SMSes and check on networking sites prior to the recent Ayodhya verdict is a current demonstration of how cyber defamation is of paramount importance," he says.
There is a growing awareness among corporates about this trend. Nair says it is hard to take preventive measures. However, some remedial measures can be taken. For example, the company can find out about attempts to defame it before others take note of it. "Be informed about what competitors/customers/enemies are talking about you before someone else tells you," Nair says. Cyber detectives can help in this.