New Instagram Security Fail Impacts Millions: Are You Safe?

April 19, 2019 · Filed Under Social Media · Comments Off on New Instagram Security Fail Impacts Millions: Are You Safe? 

Instagram recently discovered millions of user passwords were being stored in plain text

Instagram Logo

At KnowEm we take security very seriously. When one uses our social media registration services, we have certain criteria for the passwords to be used for registration. These criteria exist so that we can ensure the accounts created will be secured and accessible only by yourself or your team members that you choose to grant access.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve refined our guidelines and continue to evaluate them to make sure that your information is safe. Sometimes your security is left in the hands of companies that inadvertently expose some of the data that they have been trusted with securing.

In a March blog post Facebook disclosed that tens of thousands of passwords to Facebook accounts had been stored in plain text.  This was discovered earlier in January. As a result, on April 18th, 2019, Facebook quietly updated the previously published blog post. They subsequently revealed that in addition to the known visible data, millions more Instagram user accounts than expected were implicated.

Facebook Update to the Report:

(Update on April 18, 2019 at 7AM PT: Since this post was published, we discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed).  

Facebook has said it will notify all users whose passwords were visible and instruct them to change their passwords. We do not recommend waiting for a message from Facebook to update your passwords. If you have an account on Instagram is it recommended that you change it immediately. This will minimize the chance of someone maliciously accessing your account.

Whenever an incident like this occurs, it is strongly encouraged that you consider changing your passwords.  Try not to recycle passwords, it is highly possible they have been discovered in previous data breaches which seem to happen often.   Therefore, an additional step that is recommended is to enable 2 factor authentication or 2 step verification whenever possible.

What You Can Do Next: Security Resources

We’ve compiled multiple resources to assist you with securing your accounts. The most recognizable social media and service platforms are often the first attacked:

We’ll continue to monitor this situation and update you as more information becomes available.

How to Secure Your Child’s Digital Future

March 10, 2015 · Filed Under Branding, Domain Names, Online Reputation Management · Comments Off on How to Secure Your Child’s Digital Future 

A few days ago we had an interesting conversation on Facebook discussing what you should do (digitally-wise) once your baby is born. It started from this meme:

When your kids are born meme

 

… and developed into us sharing what we (might) do to make our kid’s future career easier. The Internet has changed our personal careers paths dramatically: Most employees look for prospective interviewees’ web records even before setting up the actual meeting.

So can we help our kids with their personal reputation management?

One of the most obvious things to do once your spouse and you agree on the baby’s name is to register the exact-match domain (if possible) for your kid not to have to worry about it when he/she grows up.

But really how crazy should you go about securing your kid’s digital future?

Well, personal reputation management is huge nowadays, and conversely so is identity hijacking. If we can in any way help our children to own their online identities, why not?

After all, you have two obvious choices:

  • Make sure your kid has a very wide-spread common first and last name (In this case, you don’t have to worry about your kid’s online reputation: There are hundreds of people sharing the same search results page) OR
  • Make sure your kid’s name is more or less unique and when he / she grows up, they will be easy to get found in whatever search engine we are going to use then.

In the latter case, securing important domains and usernames may be a good idea actually.

Helping your kids control their web identities may be crucial for their future. Dan Gillmor has put it very well:

[We] are partly who others say we are. That’s a key reason why each of us needs to be one of the voices (preferably the most prominent) defining us. To the extent that they live public lives in any way – and like it or not, it’s getting harder not to be public in some way – tomorrow’s adults will need an online home that they control. They need an online home, a place where they tell the world who they are and what they’ve done, where they post their own work, or at least some of it.

Dan Gillmore quote

What to Register

A domain is an investment and when you deal with kids, this investment is for at least 10-15 years to come.

Domains are not expensive nowadays but seriously, there’s no way you can register ALL of the variations. There are lots of them! And the list is going to be growing.

So which one to secure?

I suggest going with .com

I have no idea what the Internet is going to be in 15 years but I think .com domains will remain as common and popular as they are now or were 5 years ago.

If there is any other top level domains that fit particularly well, why not consider them as well. I’d register ann.smarty once .smarty becomes a top level domain, for example.

What to Do with That Domain

Keeping it registered is already very thoughtful of you but we know that sites are more valuable than domains.

There’s no reason to keep your kid’s domain stagnant. Installing WordPress and keeping it hosted is easy and cheap. Here’s one of the easiest guides on starting a simple blog: Your kid’s blog is just a couple of steps away.

Updating a blog is easy, you can even do it via email: So you can simply use it to collect photos and memories (Like that email address idea we started from. The difference is that hosting everything on your own sites means you actually own the collection).

What Else to Secure?

Owning your domain name is only one step. Today’s digital identity is spread across multiple social media platforms – owning all of those is also essential to better control your child’s identity.

Do we know which ones are there to stay in 10 or more years?

Will there be Twitter? – Hopefully yes!

Will there be Facebook? – It seems so…

Will there be Google Plus? – I wouldn’t count on that…

Will there be new ones? – Absolutely yes…

How to keep track of emerging social media platforms to register your kid’s name there?

Knowem has a cool service that lets you register your name on all imaginable social media platforms to secure them for your child.  They also offer a subscription service that will continue to secure your name on 20 new and emerging social networks every month, so you never miss out on any new ones:

KnowEm Social Branding Search Engine

Have you ever thought about securing your children’s digital future? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Five Niche Social Networks That Deserve Your Attention

February 10, 2015 · Filed Under Brand and Trademark Protection, Branding, Social Media · Comments Off on Five Niche Social Networks That Deserve Your Attention 

Here at Knowem we constantly research new social media sites for our customers. We add new ones every month, and sometimes we see sites that look exceptionally exciting and promising. Of course, some times it seems social networks can go down as quickly as they spring up – that’s why we’re always researching them. Today we present to you five niche social media sites that have done it right. We will take a cursory look at these sites, explaining their market niche and mention the types of features that keep customers happy and coming back for more. After you have a chance to read about them, we encourage you to visit these sites yourself and explore further.

Tastebuds.fm

TasteBudsIf you enjoy music and and meeting new people, then Tastebuds.fm (http://tastebuds.fm) is for you. Their self described statement is “Tastebuds is the best place to meet fun new people through music”. They have definitely focused on their community and offer many features to reach out and bring people together.

When signed up and logged in, the main page is a stream of recent activity showing things like recent people to sign up, and a fun survey box with silly questions like “Do you believe the moon landings were faked?”. On your personal profile you can list musical and personal tastes, concerts and shows you have attended or plan on attending. You can also create posts, customize your profile cover, and  upload pictures. Interestingly, they have incorporated a dating aspect to their site. Bringing people together the way they do makes sense, but it’s not focused on dating. There is a messaging center to reach out to specific members.  A notification center makes it easy to keep track of the activities happening around the site. Facebook login integration makes it easy to get started.

FoodSpotting.com

FoodspottingFood lovers, look no further. Foodspotting.com (http://www.foodspotting.com) is everything food and is sure to get you salivating right away. Their homepage directs your attention to the three things food lovers need – finding dishes that interest you, sharing your dining experiences, and reviews by their community members.. The social aspect is limited to comments and reviews for particular menu items which is nice – all of the focus is on getting the dining experience you‘re looking for to satisfy your appetite.

The main focus of Foodspotting is to help you find restaurants with the menu you desire. The pictures that appear on the site are authentic user-generated content although some photos of dishes look so good you’d think a professional is behind the lens. Good food on a nice plate is sure to photograph well and Foodspotting proves this yet again. Finding food often brings you on an adventure with friends, so it’s noteworthy to mention they have mobile apps for the whole spectrum – iPhone, Android, Windows and even Blackberry.

Branded.me

Branded.meBranded.me (http://branded.me) is all about telling the world about yourself and your talents. What are you all about? Answering this question for employers and fellow professionals can be tricky business when using your everyday social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like. Branded.me intendeds to empower you with a service that focuses heavily on your personal profile — that is the key feature. You want to bring people to your branded profile so they can learn about you, personally and professionally.

On Branded.me you get a feature-rich dashboard that allows you to get full control over your profile. Your profile reads like an advertisement for you and you can control every aspect of how it looks. To streamline leveraging your profile, they have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn integration to import and find new contacts. While the service is free, they do offer a pro plan at a very reasonable $7 a month which gives you very nice benefits. Pro offers custom domains, email addresses, removal of the Branded identifiable design items, profile analytics, and unlimited support. If your image and your reputation as a professional can benefit from establishing an online profile for the others to see and understand all on one place, Branded.me might be for you.

A bonus feature of Branded is a free option to get an easy to share link with others in the form of your_name.branded.me. but you must hurry. Once your real name is taken, you’ll have to use an alternative name for the custom URL.

Stage32.com

Finding work by exposing your reputation and skills online can be challenging. For those in the creative arts and media, sites like LinkedIn can leave you feeling overwhelmed. A better solution is to reach out to niche markets that by design focus on a particular subset of industry opportunities. This is where Stage32.com (https://www.stage32.com) excels. The site describes itself as “The world’s largest social network and educational hub for film, television & theater creatives.” and that is exactly right. Through Stage32.com you can network with fellow professionals, explore job opportunities, find educational and informative material and even get direct access to agents and producers. If you’re in the arts and entertainment field you should definitely be a member of the Stage32 community.

Once a member you create a profile that you want people to see to learn all about you and your talents. The whole idea is bringing together talented, passionate people into a tight sense of community to achieve success and common goals.  There is a main page to bring you tons of content all in one place, so many features you just have to see it yourself to believe it. There is a marketplace for helpful products and services. Writers can pitch material. There is also a lounge section where you can write and read posts that get comments. To keep you up to date when on the go, they have apps for both Android and iPhone/iPad.

BubbleWS

BubbleWSIf you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why don’t I get paid for all this free content I keep giving Twitter, Medium and Facebook?” BubbleWS (http://www.bubblews.com) might be the site for you.  They have a “Bank” which tracks how much money you’ve earned by sharing content on their network. Once you reach $50, you can presumably redeem the credits for cash withdrawal.   According to their Learning Center, “You receive money in your Bank for each view, like, and comment on your posts. Due to variations in advertising rates from country to country, the rate is not the same for each view, like, or comment. It is adjusted based on your connection’s country of origin.”

It operates kind of like Twitter crossed with Pinterest – they have a feed, but it’s organized in grid-like fashion with images being pulled in from the profiles of the users posting updates.  They have unique URLs for content posted and quite a few (over half a million) pages have been indexed by Google, so a cash payout is not the only benefit you can get by posting content on BubbleWS.

Video: How to Search for your Username on over 600 Social Networks

The second video in our three part series demonstrates how to do a simple username search on KnowEm for your brand, product or personal username on the over 600 Social Networks we currently monitor in our database.

Since our inception, KnowEm has always offered a free search for the availability of your brand or username on hundreds of Social Media sites. As we’ve grown, so has our database of social networks, and today we’re proud to announce that has reached over 600!

We think it’s pretty easy to use – just enter a potential username (this has to be a name without spaces or punctuation, since it is often used as a vanity URL on the social websites, such as http://twitter.com/knowem) and click “Check It“. The initial overview results page will show where your name is available on 25 of the most popular networks, and by clicking on the “Check Over 500 More Social Networks” button you can continue on to search the entire KnowEm database of 600 sites by category, for free.  When your name is found available on a site, we also offer the link to register it on that particular social network.

This initial results page will also show you the availability of that name on 15 top level domain extensions, with the option to search over a hundred more domains, and it will search the entire USPTO trademark database for that name’s availability.

Do I Really Need To Reserve My Name On Hundreds Of Social Media Sites?

One of the more common questions we get asked at KnowEm from customers and prospective clients is  “Why do we need to worry about all these social networks? I haven’t even heard of half of them; why do they even matter and how do they help my brand?”

Our response is simple.  No one knows when the next twitter, facebook, or foursquare is going to burst onto the Social Media scene and capture massive traffic growth.  I will never forget a phone call I had with one of our clients where I was going over all the new social media networks where we had reserved his brand name.  He specifically asked a question about a small little site called “Pinterest” — his exact words to me were “Why should we care about this site, it seems pointless! I doubt it will take off  and it feels like a waste of a signup.”

This phone conversation happened around the middle of June back in 2011. That was a little before the massive traffic explosion Pinterest experienced on its meteoric rise to become the major new contender in social media business marketing that it is today.  You can see the timeline of its growth on the compete graph below:

 

Pinterest is a perfect example of a social media site whose traffic blew up after we were already able to make sure our current clients’ trademarks were reserved on the site. Here’s one explanation I always like to give to clients when they inquire about these brand new social startups where their brand or username has been reserved. “If I told you 6 years ago that a site consisting of 140 characters of text would be in the top 10 most visited sites internationally, used by the fortune 100 (and just about everyone else) for customer support and major marketing campaigns, would you believe me?”  The answer is most commonly “No,” of course, because who could have predicted the Twitter revolution?  Well, except for the occasional know-it-all social media expert guru ninja master that is on the call and knows everything about social media and has 30k followers on twitter – but follows double that.

At KnowEm we realize not every player in the social media race is going to take off like the lucky ones, but that’s why we track so many (just about 600 right now).  There is a good chance you might never use some of the accounts that you’re signed up on. But are you ready to take the risk of not reserving your trademarked brand, product or username on the next Twitter?

Here’s another not uncommon example of a similar case study:  An unscrupulous competitor decided to target a well-known brand name on a new Latin social media network which was young enough to be under the radar for most people.   Using black hat SEO techniques they were able to get this site ranking for a variety of competitive terms that probably made them a lot of money selling counterfeit medication:

percocet ranking

If you notice the third result down, Lacoctelera.net  (translated, “The Shaker”) is a simple community / blogging related site where someone was able to reserve and claim the name “Percocet®” before the brand holder was aware the network even existed.  Doing some simple link building, the black hat was able to get it to rank for 7 or 8 different terms that we found, all of which were ranking in the top 5. (Hey Endo Pharmaceuticals, talk to us, we can help!).

The moral of the story, and the value in a service like KnowEm, is that no one can predict when the next big twitter, facebook or pinterest is going to hit.  So why not be safe than sorry?  It is much easier, cheaper and faster to preemptively claim a name than to bring in the legal team and try to reclaim it.

Sometimes it’s simply too late. We have new customer inquires every day from those that didn’t jump on the twitter bandwagon in time and now can’t reclaim their brand names on twitter even with legal help.  If the person who owns the twitter handle of a known brand or trademark clearly states that they are not related to the company and doesn’t tweet as the company – there is nothing the trademark holder can do (short of bribing the squatter or paying them off).  One of my favorite sodas, “Fanta®,” is a perfect example of this.  A person claimed the registered trademark on twitter before the actual company did (Coca-Cola®) and has followed the twitter guidelines to the letter.  As a result, Coca-Cola is unable to retrieve the name as long as the twitter member doesn’t attempt to represent Coca-Cola® or Fanta® in any way shape or form:

Fanta Twitter Account

Is your brand secure?  Does your brand run the risk of having someone take your name or intellectual property on a social media site? These are some serious questions you need to ask  before you decide the best plan of action for you to take to insure the safety of your brand. If you have a product that runs a high risk of counterfeit, registering your brand using one of our brand protection packages might just not be enough, and that’s why we strongly suggest also using our monthly brand protection service, where our team will continue to register your name on all new and emerging social media sites that we find.

This is the reason why we built out our enterprise dashboard — A centralized location where you can view, monitor and  manage all of your trademarks, brands, products and usernames on various social media networks.  If you would like a webex demonstration of the product and other services that KnowEm offers feel free to contact us.

 

KnowEm Introduces the “Essential Package”

January 31, 2012 · Filed Under Announcements, KnowEm News, Social Media · 3 Comments 

KnowEm gets requests all the time from individuals to small businesses that ask “We really don’t think we need a presence on 100 or more social media sites, are there any smaller packages that you offer?” Well today KnowEm is proud to announce the new “Essential Package”, a selection of the 25 most popular social media sites.  You can see the exact offering of sites on the purchase page by clicking the link underneath the package information.

We feel this package offers great value at a more introductory level price for individuals and SMBs interested in getting involved with just the most essential and popular social networks.  The new package is a complete one-button turnkey solution for not only reserving your name, but also completing all the profile information, images and links required to create a full presence on the top 25 social media sites.

KnowEm has identified this list of 25 essential social networks via several different metrics — page rank, compete score, alexa traffic rankings and media mentions.  All profile creation orders are still completed 100% manually by our U.S.-based in-house staff, so just like all our other plans you can rest assured your data and information is safe with us.

So from the small business owner just getting their feet wet in social media to the new parent that wants to be sure their child’s name is reserved and waiting for them when they want to start tweeting, we have the package for you.

In addition, KnowEm is currently working with a few other companies to develop custom packages for their client base.  Keep your eye out for these other new packages launching within the next few weeks!