Protecting our name & online accounts from being hacked!

So I get this email below from my father this morning…I have been hacked! Oh yes, someone has broken into my email and hacked me. What have they done, sent out emails (from my contact list) including some weird link that leads them to a place of no return. BLAH…

Almost a year ago, I was hacked in a different way. I had someone break into my car and steal some very expensive items from me. Yes, I was hacked (well robbed) here as well. I am convinced this situation was predicated by someone learning my location based on conversations on Social Media sites, broke into my car in the middle of the night, and steal my stuff. That is why I am weary about some of the geo-location, social media technologies (Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, etc.)

We are being hacked everyday from our new, digital lives. Whether it is a email account being hacked, houses broken into, social security numbers compromised, bank accounts with malicious charges, or Twitter accounts being used on our behalf with contradicting messaging. Look at the gulf and the BP situation, “Terry” created @BPGlobalPR to spread off color messages about the gulf situation, BP’s brand was hacked! Or was it really?

College coaches everyday deal with someone using the college coaches name to maliciously sell advertising to make a buck. Hackers are on so many levels compromising our very core of our own brand identity…so we are forced to squat. Seriously, go out and find all the digital domains, acquire them, and hold them so no one else will use them maliciously.

I wonder if Coach Steve Spurrier knows if his name is on this site, using Steve Spurrier’s brand equity to sell ads for someone else’s benefit? Are they hijacking his name or is it Coach Steve Spurrier’s fault for not knowing how other’s are using his name online? Maybe Coach Steve Spurrier knows about this site and is benefiting from the traffic? I know this…I am not clicking any of the links on this site until I know that Coach Steve Spurrier is benefiting from his brand equity being used, or any Steve Spurrier for that matter.

So let”s back up and think more about the main reason why I am writing. First of all, one of my accounts was compromised. Some person or person(s) used my email account to email a group of my contacts (my sphere of influence) to market their “product.” Yes, this is a technology inconvenience. ┬áMy mother called me and said, hey you should just delete all the contacts and close account. Let’s think about this for a second.

Yes, I have logged into this account (which is an old hotmail email account) and deleted all of the mail in the inbox, outbox, folders, sent, etc. I also deleted all of the contacts in the address book. I even went ahead and changed the three year old password. But, I am not going to delete the account. Why? Because it is my name, my brand, my face. The email account is BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com…if deleted, someone else can open a BobbyRettew “at” hotmail.com account and begin emailing using my branded name.

Why do I care, because I do not want some other person using my name to communicate a message that I cannot control. Now it would be different if I was JohnSmith “at” hotmail.com, but I have a unique name. There are very few Bobby Rettew’s out there, and I would like to make sure I protect the branded name I have worked so hard to build. I do not want someone using this email account for reasons that could potentially “hack” my brand equity.

Leason I have learned: continually change my password. Yes, I am squatting on this email account…but that is my choice. Our name is everything to us…it is our branded image, even our email accounts.