How to keep these web credentials safe and secure!
Many clients find themselves in a sticky situation when they begin to update their web site. All of the things they thought they owned – such as their company URL, web site hosting or even their social accounts – are registered or managed by other firms. It gets even trickier when the firm they’re switching from is being less than helpful in the switch to a new web site developer or marketing services company. It can be devastating when the person who has the information was the intern from two summers ago that you can’t even locate.
If your organization doesn’t treat its web, technology and social assets as critical company information, then you’re risking losing those assets. What assets should your business secure and how should you do it? Here’s our take on the top 7 Internet intellectual property assets your firm must own – and secure (and how):
Domain name – and registrar account
The URL that belongs to your firm (and usually there is at least one, if not more than one) is it’s public web address. If this was registered on your behalf by another firm (such as a web site development form) work now to secure that in your own account. You must maintain a registrar account (such as with GoDaddy.com or MyDomain.com or NetworkSolutions.com) and have that domain registered in that account in your firm’s name. Be sure someone high up in the organization is the administrative contact, and be sure that information is saved and recorded in a safe place.
Web site hosting
Web hosting comes in many shapes and sizes, but your firm should own your space and have credentials to any VPS (virtual private server) space that belongs to your organization. You’ll need three pieces of information: Username, Password and (sometimes) a support PIN. Be sure you keep this and the URL to access these services in a safe spot in your organization
Commerce and SAAS
Commerce software or any Software As A Service package (such as BigCommerce, or HubSpot, or SalesForce) should be maintained with an administrative level account with one of your key employees. If your firm pays for it, you own it.
Stock photography and custom photography
If your design firm has purchased stock photography on your behalf, be sure to own the space it’s stored in. If it’s in Dropbox, have it transferred to your account, and download a copy so it’s not just in the “cloud” but stored somewhere on a company server.
Your logo should be provided to you by your design firm and it should have several formats, including the native file it was created in (usually Adobe Illustrator, or .ai or .eps files), and it should come with multiple versions, probably saved in .png or .jpg format. Store these on the company intranet so your team has access to them. Without access to the ‘native’ file – Illustrator usually – changing your logo will require recreating it.
Google Analytics, and Google services accounts
Every business should have a Gmail account that can be used to gather up Google assets such as Analytics, YouTube or even customer service gmail accounts. The reason for having this account separate is because Google identifies the gmail account as owner as the one that initiated the account. So, have one for XYZCompany@gmail.com for the specific purpose of opening Analytics, YouTube and other Google services accounts. And build a barricade around your brand by owning those gmail accounts before someone else does!
Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts
It’s gut wrenching to realize that you have worked so hard to build up your social following only to discover the intern you hired to set them up is the ‘owner’ of these accounts – and they’re long gone from your firm. Using the Gmail account associated with the company, transfer ownership and administrative rights to the firm and maintain those credentials in a secure spot. Your social administrators can be added as admins on these accounts (or log in directly to them using company credentials.)
These critical 7 items should be considered as important as company filings with your state, and should be treated as such with restricted need-to-have access to credentials and information. If you are able to add administrators to accounts (versus handing over credentials), that’s always advisable, although many newer social platforms are designed around the individual user model, not a corporate user, so those features may not be available. That’s where that “XYZCompany@gmail.com entity comes in handy.
What do you do if you DON’T have access to these?
Work quickly and quietly to establish control (if you have a sticky situation with a developer you are planning on releasing from contract, do it before that separation is communicated.) While most firms will be professional and understanding of the relationship switch, a disgruntled employee with control of the company’s social media accounts can be a dangerous weapon and a potential PR disaster.
Download the Web and Internet Intellectual Assets Worksheet so you can gather up and secure all the important credentials all in one place, on one document. It’s a great tool to use when reviewing and revising an organization’s strategic technical plans. And, just in case, you can request a special edition in Word, which is an unbranded version, so you can safely send this to your web team without arousing suspicion that you’re thinking of moving web site hosting or development.