A good reputation is one of the most important assets for any company. That’s why many organisations invest a lot in building a positive and trustworthy brand identity. Strengthened by the emergence of a digital society, online visibility is of growing relevance for organisations that range from local to multinational. Like with every opportunity, there is also a downside. Strong brand names are immensely prone to abuse. Therefore, brand protection is becoming increasingly important.
If you are in e-commerce, finance or luxury goods, your brand is especially vulnerable to malpractice. Misuse of a brand is not easily discovered though: web shops are imitated behind the scenes, fake coupons are distributed or social media accounts are created using your name (usually a variation) and your organisation’s logo. Examples are:
One of the most well-known forms of brand abuse is phishing: another person or organisation presents itself as your company through various online channels. Just last year, SIDN (Stichting Internet Domein Registratie Nederland) found a 40% increase of phishing sites using Dutch brand names. In case of phishing websites or phishing emails, your customers or employees are misled to provide personal or confidential information, like bank details or social security numbers. Not only can this data be used for identity fraud, it can also lead to the execution of fake.
Another type of brand abuse is false advertising. The brand reputation you so carefully built is used by others to attract potential customers. One of the most common examples of false advertising is bidding on a brand name in online keyword advertising, also known as Search Engine Advertising (SEA), as can be done in Google Adwords. In this scenario, when users look for your brand they are diverted to advertisements or websites from other (dishonest) organisations or even phishing websites.
Copycat accounts are fake social media accounts that use your brand name and logo to direct customers to their own webpages. These copycat accounts will share content like it’s yours, which means fake news is easily spread and obtaining confidential information from customers is simplified.
With CEO Fraud, the name of the CEO or other VIP is abused to get in touch with employees or stakeholders using e-mail spoofing and phishing websites. An email coming from this person seems trustworthy, which puts your organisation at risk of confidential information being shared to outsiders or money being transferred to malicious bank accounts. In 2014, at least 20 million euro was cashed through these fake emails worldwide (source: fraudehelpdesk.nl).
Non-authentic Association uses your brand name as an associate, when in fact there is no relationship between your company and theirs. Online companies can claim to be a part of your organisation or even a subsidiary. Your brand name can also be (mis)used to create a fictional reference (“Our services are trusted by brands like…”).
In general, organisations with a greater online presence are at higher risk for potential brand abuse or hacking attempts. Organisations that have insufficient insight in their actual digital footprint are especially vulnerable to successful hacking attempts.
Monitoring brand abuse
Most organisations respond to cases of brand abuse when the damage to their brand has already been done. However, pro-actively taking care of brand protection on a day-to-day basis is a challenge. Therefore, real-time monitoring is of utmost importance to protect both organisations and brands, especially those prone to abuse.
Cybersprint’s Digital Risk Protection Platform provides insight into online vulnerabilities using nothing but a brand name. This innovative Brand Protection solution continuously scans the Internet, social media, app stores and the dark web in search of any type of cyber risk that could be related to your brand.
24/7 Brand Protection
The platform is easy to use, all we need is your brand name, brand logo and/or product names. The advanced system maps your online footprint and searches for risks in known, hidden and fake online access points, which could leave your organisation vulnerable to outside interference. Examples are:
- Brand impersonation on social media via fake accounts
- False advertising in Search Engine Advertisements
- Fake branded apps in the mobile app stores
- Non-authentic domain registrations, domain squatting
- Abuse of the names of VIP’s, CEO Fraud
The platform automatically creates a comprehensive overview of all results, analysed as well as prioritised. Realtime brand protection enables you to stay on top of potential danger and take whatever measures required to prevent your brand from becoming a victim of abuse.
“Our platform operates as an automated ethical hacker in order to protect your reputation, employees and clients. By making the invisible vulnerabilities visible and initiating remedial actions, our cyber security platform actively contributes to the protection of organisations, employees and the reputation of companies worldwide”
Pieter Jansen, Founder & CEO Cybersprint
If you are interested how we can help your organisation within the realm of brand protection, request a free quickscan and discover first-hand how simple and effective the platform is.