Brand Impersonation: A New Threat to Your Business Reputation
What Is Brand Impersonation?
Brand impersonation is exactly what it sounds like. The term refers to an individual or group pretending to be your brand (or affiliated with it in some way) to obtain sensitive information from current or potential customers or employees. Not only can such an attack cost customers time and money, but it can also cost the brand its reputation and bottom line.
Brands take a lot of time and effort to build. Not only does a brand accurately represent your company and its products and services, but it also serves as a pillar of trust for your customers. Unfortunately, scammers sometimes exploit the hard work of business owners and use their brands for illicit activity.
As a business owner, you’ll be glad to know there are steps you can take to keep impersonation attacks at bay with proactive prevention. With awareness, training, and advanced technology, it’s possible to protect your brand and ensure its longevity.
How Do Brand Impersonation Attacks Work?
Most impersonation scammers use mass spam emails to trick people into giving up their personal information. Attackers are meticulous with their methods, often taking the following steps to craft their con:
- Researching a brand to determine its level of access to confidential information.
- Crafting a believable approach using a familiar avenue of contact.
- Leveraging well-designed brand templates and similar URLs or email addresses.
Although scammers may often seem to be throwing caution to the wind, they operate in very sophisticated ways.
Types of Impersonation Attacks
Companies must be aware of how fraudsters carry out their attacks so they can understand what to do to thwart them. In general, scammers use two types of brand impersonation attacks:
Also referred to as service impersonation attacks, phishing involves impersonating a typically large or famous brand in order to steal sensitive information from its current or potential customers and employees.
A phishing email may ask you to reset a password, verify an account, or log in to a fake (albeit believable) account so scammers can obtain accurate login information and take over your account. This type of impersonation sometimes occurs with business executives, as well, where scammers may use hijacked accounts to access trade secrets or authorize transactions.
Here are some common types of phishing attacks:
- Email phishing attacks often use a company’s name or logo to deceive users into clicking on malicious links that can lead to identity theft, financial loss and other serious consequences.
- SMS and voice phishing attacks involve requests to click on fraudulent links. These messages may appear as if they were sent by legitimate companies or organizations.
- Spear-phishing emails are specifically targeted at employees within an organization in order to gain access to confidential data.
Brand hijacking, also known as spoofing, occurs when a scammer impersonates a business’s email address, URL, or social media handle. It’s a form of social engineering that psychologically manipulates a victim into engaging with a bad actor to give them access to personal information.
Fake social media accounts
Creating fake social media profiles using a company’s name or logo is a growing brand impersonation concern for businesses. These impersonation attacks not only damage the brand image but also lead to financial losses.
Fake accounts are widely used in ‘like-farming’ activities, where they gather likes, shares, and comments from real users to make them appear legitimate. Hackers use these fake accounts to spread false information about the business through posts and direct messages.
Executive Impersonation is a subset of fake social media accounts. This is a growing problem in the digital age, where cybercriminals are increasingly targeting high-level executives in order to gain sensitive information.
These attacks involve impersonating an executive or other trusted figure within an organization to trick employees into revealing confidential data or transferring funds. Attackers use sophisticated tactics such as social engineering and spear-phishing emails to increase the chances of success.
Brand Impersonation Protection
Intelligent protection is the key to keeping your brand and customers safe, and any company looking to protect its brand from impersonation will need more the right tools in their tech stack.
Educating employees and customers about cyber security is crucial in protecting your business from brand impersonation attacks. Phishing emails and scams that imitate the company’s branding are becoming more sophisticated, making it difficult to distinguish between legitimate and fake emails. Here are some tips on how to train your employees and customers:
- Educate employees on how to identify phishing emails and scams that impersonate the company’s branding.
- Offer cyber security training sessions for customers who use their email as a login credential.
- Inform customers about common tactics used by scammers to commit brand impersonation attacks.
By implementing these practices, you can reduce the risk of brand impersonation attacks and safeguard your business reputation. Remember, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to cyber threats.
Secure your domain name
To protect your brand from impersonation online, it’s crucial to secure your domain name. Register multiple domain extensions (.com, .net, .org) to prevent cybercriminals from using similar domains for malicious purposes. Enable WHOIS privacy protection to keep personal information hidden from public view and avoid being targeted by scammers or spammers.
Renew domain registration regularly to prevent expiration and potential hijacking. Expired domains can be easily bought by attackers who may use them for phishing attacks or other illegal activities that damage your business reputation. By taking these proactive steps, you can safeguard your company’s online identity and maintain the trust of your customers and stakeholders in today’s digital age.
Advanced artificial intelligence tools can scan the internet for fake websites, domain typos, and even logo infringements in milliseconds. They can also automate and accelerate the takedown process and continuously monitor emerging impersonation attempts.
In the end, using a multi-faceted protection strategy will help ensure your business can thrive despite existing technological dangers.
To see how Bolster’s automated digital risk and threat detection technology monitors and protects against brand impersonation attacks, request a free demo today.