Why has the drone industry such a bad online reputation?

The more disruptive the technological advances in our society, the more involved are their online reputation. This has happened to the steam engine, nuclear power, the Internet, and it has also happened to the drones during the current decade. When we talk about drones, it is impossible not to think about Star Wars and those epic battles waged by armies of machines, but in reality, the drones are not simply reduced to their military use. In fact, these unmanned machines have been particularly useful in rescuing lost or seriously injured hikers in hard-to-reach areas, as well as in the control of destructive forest fires, and in data collection in nuclear accidents, such as Fukushima, a few years ago. These are some of the thousands of non-military uses of drones, however, no matter how incredible they are, the public is not able to dissociate these remote-controlled crafts from the well-known images of bombings in Iraq or Syria, as well as the espionage activities for war. This is one of the main reasons for the bad online reputation of this industry.

So far, most drones for civilian use are small and – apparently – inoffensive. Although most were built for recreational use by buyers, many of them are used daily for data collection (for example, to measure the boundaries of an extensive property, to measure glacier displacement, to observe volcanic activity, among others.) But despite the technological advantages offered by drones, the market for these products has not been exploited to its full potential, and this is due to the unfavorable opinions of many people on the Internet about the risks to public safety, and the ease with which privacy (both physical and online) can be affected.

Media scandals are common. DJI, the world’s leading drone manufacturer, has been embroiled in an online reputation crisis due to a computer security breach. Because, among other reasons, some terrorist groups have been using drones from this company to execute their actions of espionage and bombing, DJI has taken control measures. Since this year, this Chinese company has developed a software update that forces users to indicate the geographical areas that they want to fly before using the drones; also, it checks the location of users and constantly downloads forbidden zones of flight. In case a user does not download the updates, the drone does not fly more than 164 feet away, or 98 feet in height, nor is it possible to do direct streaming.

Read also: Reconstructing a corporate Online Reputation, by ReputationDefender

This was partly due to the pressure from the authorities of several countries to comply with local and international standards. Nevertheless, a software already exists that allows DJI drones to fly through forbidden areas. This software allows you to bypass the height limits and even trick the GPS of DJI drones so that they can fly through airports, war zones, or even military installations. The software confuses the GPS of the drone to make it believe that it is flying over a safe zone, and it even makes it possible to break the limit of five hundred feet of height that DJI imposes to its drones.

The main security issue here lies in three main reasons. The first one is the immense availability of purchase of these drones. Years ago, those were items that only millionaires could afford, and they are now increasingly available to anyone (and that includes sociopaths, of course.) In addition, the great distances that these drones are able to travel without losing connection makes them a war tool difficult to control by the authorities. Finally, the versatility of these machines allows, for example, to drop a homemade bomb, or to take samples of chemical substances with the aim of stealing industrial secrets.

Image courtesy of Jeremy Keith at Flickr.com

Nonetheless, DJI has also been involved in another online reputation crisis, and this time has been due to the bad comments of its own users, especially in our country. Many of them believe that the main motivation for buying the advanced drones of this company is related to the great freedom it represents for them, and they believe that the limitations to the use of these products should come from local laws, rather than the company itself. It is a complicated case regarding who is right: Customers, or those who consider public safety and privacy.

These improvements will never be clean of controversy. Last year, the US army unveiled the production and use of insect-sized drones to carry out espionage activities in enemy territories during the current wars. These drones (some of them, the size of a mosquito,) can take DNA samples, take photos, record audio, and track a person’s location by GPS when getting into clothing or luggage. This can be a powerful weapon, or it can be seen as an Orwellian nightmare.

The problem is that if we compare the safety and privacy cons with the pros drones can offer, forbidding or limiting the use of these devices would mean a technological backwardness that could cost a lot of money and human lives.

Recommended: 9 Incredible Ways Drones Are Overcoming Their Bad Reputation

* Featured Image courtesy of Visual Hunt at Pexels.com

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How to stop looking like an unpleasant phisher

Phishing is perhaps one of the today’s most infamous practices within the vast spectrum of the digital world. In fact, from an ORM standpoint, phishing, or being linked to carrying out phishing activities can arguably be devastating for the name of a company or a business in general. We at ReputationDefender previously stressed that when it comes to strengthening a business’s online reputation, avoiding looking like a dreary and a bothersome phisher is almost mandatory.

Phishing e-Mails are often used by all kinds of cyber criminals to trick people into providing or, better said, handing over sensitive information such as their usernames, their passwords, social security numbers, PIN numbers, credit card details, amongst others. If the phisher is successful, meaning: if the fraudulent e-Mail fulfills and accomplishes its purpose, the recipient can fall victim of a sheer array of issues, especially, identity theft, or maybe they will just find their credit card maxed out or their bank account with balance zero.

This scenario has alerted major Internet Service Providers and other mailbox providers, which is why they are seemingly becoming more aware of any incoming mail that looks like it could be a phishing attempt: anything looking like a fraudulent or malicious mail goes directly to the junk box, or, sometimes, it gets deleted upon arrival.

This being said, it is not difficult to also fall victim of being linked to phishing activities —it is not a secret that some industries seem to be more prone to suffer this kind of situations, especially, the banking or mailing industries; however, there are certainly several things a company, irrespective of its nature, can do to prevent its e-Mail campaigns being mistaken for fraudulent or phishing attempts.

This is particularly important even from the online reputation management standpoint: when it comes to developing and maintaining a strong brand, nothing seems to be more of paramount importance than trust; a lack of trust is detrimental to even the most creative and compelling marketing campaigns. The digital age, of course, also brought along a new paradigm in regard to how companies and brands convey information to their customers thanks to today’s social media platforms, improper engagement, and bad practices can spread around the globe in less than the blink of an eye.

With phishing attacks on the rise, regaining control of e-Mail channels should be no less than mandatory and essential for every company that values the trust of their clients; by making sure a company does not ask for information out of well-meant motives, any particular business will not only be able to overcome this dreary issue of being linked to phishing, but also will see an improvement in customer response rates. Be that as it may, here are several strategies a company can follow in order to work against unscrupulous copycats:

Stay away from mismatched URLs

Perhaps the most basic and common example of a phishing technique is an e-Mail asserting and reporting malicious and fraudulent activity on an account and asking the recipient to click on a link just to verify the information. This apparently innocent and harmless link could actually be hiding something terrible; in fact, bad links are hidden behind a legitimate looking link —especially those from banks— which is why recipients do not hesitate to clink on them most of the times —nor question their legitimacy. These links manage to trick people into downloading malware to their computers or accessing insecure websites.

To determine whether an e-Mail may be indeed a phishing attempt or scam, the e-Mail client looks for a specific link in the recipient’s HTML campaign where the text being displayed is an URL: if the displayed link seems to differ from the actual URL, the user gets an instant notification. Sadly, cybercriminals have become really tech-savvy, and they have come up with different ways to carry out phishing scams, to the point where these have been designed to work in a rather large variety of ways, one of which, like the aforementioned technique, consists of hiding malicious links that are seemingly legitimate. Internet and safety researchers have developed different ways to combat this increasingly used thread: they have developed software that detects fraudulent e-Mails while scanning for mismatched links.

Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

Authentication is everything

Phishing e-Mails normally use spoofing to trick recipients and mislead them about where the e-Mail was actually sent from. Basically, a “spoofed” e-Mail is a message with a fake sender address, thusly posting as if it was sent from a trusted source; nevertheless, and unfortunately, this is not actually that hard to do because an e-Mail —the process of conveying e-Mail messages between mail servers— was not precisely designed with high standards of security in mind. And here is where authentication technology steps in authenticating e-Mail addresses validate the identity of both a company or a business and the e-Mail Service Provider.

Do not overlook the power of setting up a custom domain

Instead of getting accustomed to using the default subdomain generated for a particular account, it seems to be much better and wiser to override it with a custom domain. Custom domains are the ones referenced in every campaign a company sends, meaning it will appear in the URLs for website version links, amongst other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Internet Service Providers assess the domains referenced in a particular campaign in order to find out whether these match the company’s DNS records. Besides, spoofed or fake e-Mails sent by unscrupulous phishers lack that kind of customization.

Ask for information the right way

Last but not least, sometimes companies have got to ask for specific (personal) information about their customers, or ask account holders to update their information for well meant (and legitimate) purposes. For example, it is ok to let customers know about a data security breach and ask them to reset their passwords; however, most of the times, this will sound tremendously suspicious. Apply the aforementioned techniques to provide e-Mails with a good reputation and make the content look entirely trustworthy: provide explanations, choose words carefully, use customization, reference trusted websites, do not ask customers to click on a link, pose as security conscious and include a permission reminder, etc.

* Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay at Pexels.com

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Is your namesake a disreputable person? You may need help

Many people criticize the use of online reputation management. Critics’ main argument is ethics. According to them, every person has the reputation he deserves, and good people is protected by their good deeds. For this reason, these critics consider that eliminating or, rather, altering the online reputation of someone who has committed reprehensible acts means allowing this person to continue to get their way.

This argument is easily rebuttable. First off, because all the people who access these services do not necessarily have committed reprehensible acts (in fact, they may never have done anything wrong, they simply want to improve their digital image for SEO purposes) and, secondly, because a person’s online reputation can be negatively affected by other people’s harmful acts (revenge porn, for example.)

But there are a number of real-life cases that help to destroy this weak argument: the case of the disreputable namesake. Have you ever googled your name? Most likely, yes. Unless your name was taken from a work of fiction, or your parents have given you the strangest name that came to their evil minds, or you belong to an ancient ethnicity of very few individuals, you probably have a namesake. If you’ve never researched who your namesake is, you’re actually losing control over what that person can do, because the consequences of his/her actions can actually affect you.

Confusions of identity have always been a difficult matter to solve. The case of Will West, a prisoner of the early twentieth century, is an excellent example. In one jail (Leavenworth,) two prisoners shared the same name, were physically identical and they had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the same crimes. This case, in fact, was the origin of the fingerprints identification system. Today, although there are enough means to distinguish the identity of two people, there are still problematic cases.

Mrs. Fauzia Din, an American citizen, made an application so that her Afghan husband could immigrate to the United States and live with her. The petition was denied because a consul in Islamabad determined that her husband, Kanishka Berashk, an employee of the Afghan Ministry of Education, had ties to terrorist organizations. The Din family had to start a long process since immigration law does not allow people to obtain information on the basis of the decisions of the consuls, as these are classified. Moreover, such denials are not appealable, either to the embassy or to courts. Fixing these errors is not an easy task for sure. Usually, you can request information through the Freedom of Information Act to the American Government about your background. The problem is that if the government considers the information to be of national interest (just like terrorism,) revealing information is nearly a mission impossible. For this reason, Mrs. Fauzia Din sued the former Secretary of State, John Kerry, in charge of the operation of the American embassies.

Read also: What do you mean by reputation management?, by ReputationDefender

This is not an isolated case. Daily wager Sheoraj Singh, a low-income worker from India, was held for seven years because his name was indistinguishable from the name of a criminal who was accused of kidnap and murder. The real criminal, a wealthy man from a neighboring state, remained free thanks to a legal error, and, instead, the authorities condemned a poor illiterate worker who had no way of defending himself judicially.

Such cases are common. Secret services around the world, bank debt-collecting departments and even (and unfortunately) hitmen (among many others) confuse identities every day and make innocent people suffer.

Image courtesy of m01229 at Flickr.com

Now, what can be done here, then? Actually, it is better to prevent it than curing it. Once a crisis of reputation is going on, or, worse still, some of the unfortunate cases mentioned above, it is very difficult to repair things. For this reason, it is better to start cleaning up your digital identity. How can this be done? The best way for the public to differentiate two namesakes online is precisely by strengthening the image of one of the two. Being present on all social networks, creating permanently updated blogs and websites and appearing in the first results of Google and other search engines, not only allows people who find your name easier than your disreputable namesake (especially if you provide enough photos and information about you.) Online reputation management also allows you to excel in your business and gives you a better search engine optimization.

People who do not care about reviewing and improving their digital identities are subject to the vagaries of chance. Anything can happen on the Internet, and, in this case, an unfortunate event takes place when someone’s online reputation gets messed up by someone else’s acts. Online reputation management allows you to control these situations and shape the digital image according to your needs.

Recommended: How to Monitor Your Online Reputation

* Featured Image courtesy of Ian McBurnie at Flickr.com

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Sexting and Online Reputation: Youth Gone Wild

For years, institutions and individuals have definitely striven to prevent kids from sending nude photos of themselves to other kids. Parents and educators have tried to spare no efforts in educating younger generations in order for these youngsters to acknowledge the dangers in such practice. As the importance of taking a rather conservative approach, in regards to online usage and presence, has been highlighted, an issue that often comes to the fore is online reputation management —alongside the common definition of moral, which seems to be directly connected to the connotation of self-respect.

Sexting is something that has been under the radar for quite some time now; in fact, plenty of research has already been conducted in hopes of understanding the real motive behind such practice. The results, however, seem to depict a much worse danger than what generally meets the eye: even though sending nudes to another person already entails a scandal, the real danger, the one that seems to be going unnoticed —and even overlooked— is the fact that behind the mere action exists a coercive force: in some cases even a threat or a compelling manipulation from their conversation partners.

It is not a total nonsense to assert that sexting has become a somewhat popular practice amongst people, mostly youngsters. Nevertheless, given the fact that it embodies a much greater damage —sometimes beyond the individual’s online reputation—, institutions and people who actually care about the welfare of others are now seeking to develop apps that could ultimately serve as a tool for maintaining a healthy online reputation while avoiding falling victim of such reputation destroyer. It is not a secret that with the emergence of digital marketing, many companies and businesses highlighted the need for a tool that could consequently help them manage their online reputations. Apparently, those wishes echoed in companies who are now trying to help people avoid getting their online reputation destroyed by an indiscrete, unscrupulous revealing.

Readers might have or might have not already heard about Snapchat: an app that allegedly prevents people from getting their online reputation shattered just by adding a time period to the image’s exposure. Snapchat seemed to understand that the underlying issue in regards to sexting was related to primary human behavior, which is why their development focused on allowing people to send +18 material —under today’s considerations— for a shorter moment (a matter of seconds, in reality).

Should someone were fond of sending somewhat provocative material, it would be highly advisable to emphasize that their online reputation will always be at stake. Whether it is for a regular partner or for someone who they are flirting with, sending naked photos can be ultimately used, should they fall in the wrong hands, as a very powerful lever. We at ReputationDefender are aware of the magnificence of a healthy online reputation, especially under today’s digital juncture, since the degree to which it serves as a tool for thriving exceeds all the premises. Thusly, the idea behind this article is to stress the importance of control, rather than assess the moral background. Apps like Snapchat enables people to attain a certain degree of control over the material they send, furthermore, if the recipient were to take a screenshot, the app immediately notifies the sender about such event.

Image courtesy of MacQ at Flickr.com

Be that as it may, the controversy is served: does this app encourage people to incur in the rather dangerous practice of sexting? People seem to agree upon such assertion, especially when the app ranks third in the photo app downloads. Although apps like Snapchat strive to prevent the spreading of sexually explicit material, adults —and teens— will continue to share such images as part of their flirting practices, as it seems that engaging in sharing this type of graphic material is common —some would say intrinsic— aspect of human behavior. The issues become possibly hazardous when those images, that sexually explicit material comes back at them and haunts them until their reputation is finally shattered and scattered online. Imagine the scope of having nude images all over the internet: the damage spans all over the imaginable spectrum: businesses could even be forced to be closed due to such thing; deals could be inexorably ruined; business partners would back down on every possible business idea that people may have; startups looking for funds could never get to see the light; etc.

Online reputation will grow in importance as 2017 continues to unfold: the need to be aware of all possible threats that could result in harming both businesses and individual’s online reputation must definitely become one of the company’s (and people in general) top priorities should they were striving to succeed under today’s circumstances. In fact, whether it is people or businesses in general, striving to do something positive for their online reputation will definitely prevent them from suffering a total disaster.

* Featured Image courtesy of Peter M at Flickr.com

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