Top US retailers are leaving themselves at major risk of brand damage online because of poor domain registration practices, the American E-commerce Brands report from NetNames reveals. The report reveals more than two thirds of leading online retailers in the US currently have at least one domain suffix related to their brand name that is held by a cybersquatter.The NetNames report, undoubtedly an effort to promote their Platinum Service and promote domain name sales, does raise an important point. However from the information provided, one cannot determine how many of the companies surveyed have deliberately chosen not to bother registering the domain names in question, or whether they are just plain unaware this can happen.The American E-commerce Brands report analysed how well protected the top 50 online retailers in the US are online both domestically and internationally.The American E-commerce Brands report alarmingly reveals that less than half (49.6 per cent) of all domains relating to major online retailers in the US have been registered by company officials, leaving them wide open to attack online. This was demonstrated by the fact that more than one in four (28 per cent) domains relating to these online retailers were occupied by cybersquatters and more than one in twenty (6 per cent) were available for purchase in the open market. Of the top 50 online US retailers identified, 34 had left at least one domain relating to the brand unprotected which was now occupied by cybersquatters.The report also underlined a disturbing general disregard for all domain suffixes apart from .com. The report revealed that the most registered domain by major online US retailers was .com which was 98 per cent registered. However, the report also revealed that other domain suffixes were not nearly so well protected, with 44 per cent of related .net and only 32 per cent of .us domains protected. It is imperative that companies pay more attention to these domain names as they look to expand their presence online and overseas.Failing to register the domains of well known brands has in the past proved a favored route in for cybersquatters, who are profiting from these brands lack of online protection, and by leaving these domains unprotected companies are leaving themselves vulnerable. Cybersquatters register domain names relating to these brands, either with malicious intentions or often posting Google-style pay-per-click advertising to make money from people stumbling across their sites looking for official information.James Lambright, Chief Strategy Officer for NetNames, commented: “Considering that these retailers rely on e-commerce as a significant part of their business, it is alarming to see that so many do not seem concerned about one of the most vital elements of online brand protection. Not registering relevant domain names is the online equivalent of leaving your storefront open overnight. The American E-commerce Brands report reveals that other than .com a frightening majority of the top US online retailers are not protecting domain names relating to their brand and as such are putting their reputations on the line unnecessarily.”Research methodologyThe American E-commerce Brands report evaluated the top 50 online retailers in the US on company registration of the top level domain names. The research is carried out by assessing whether a company has registered their name plus .com, .org, .net, .biz, .info .us.