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Five Digital Brand Protection Methods for Tackling Brand Abuse

What is Digital Brand Protection? 

Companies work hard to build, define and own their brands while developing customer loyalty through a series of social media engagements, advertising and promotions. As a result, consumers expect a consistent brand experience that meets and exceeds their expectations while fulfilling their diverse needs. 

Today, customers expect to interact and engage with their brands of choice across a variety of platforms, including digital channels on web and mobile apps, instead of a regular brick and mortar institution. As companies continue to build their online presence and reputation, it places them at greater risk of threats that capitalize on any weaknesses in a company’s cybersecurity protections. 

Digital Brand Protection, while difficult to define as a company’s needs evolve and change over time, ensures that risks to the company are mitigated and their hard-won reputation can remain intact. 

A Look Into Digital Brand Threats 

Threat actors are constantly looking for ways to take advantage of unsuspecting users, especially loyal brand users. Cybercriminals often capitalize on the recognition of companies’ brand identities and personas to steal customer data and personal information through fraudulent transactions or phishing attacks. Ultimately, these threats can hurt a company’s reputation and bottom line if not quickly addressed. Understanding three common digital brand threats will help to ensure a company can proactively work to mitigate them. 

Domain-based attacks such as look-alike domains, are a common tactic used by cyber criminals to lure unsuspecting users to a fraudulent domain. In this instance, a threat actor will purchase a domain that is similar to a brand and could feasibly be part of an organization’s online presence. This method could also include typo squatting, which utilizes common URL misspellings, or homoglyphs, using similar-looking alphabet characters, to draw users to malicious websites.

Impersonations on social media, email, mobile apps and spoofed domains represent a real risk to brands that have spent time and revenue developing their reputation and following online. Social media impersonations, in particular, offer actors a quick and cost-effective way of reaching an engaged audience. Fake mobile apps allow for the delivery of malware to unsuspecting users, while Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks are on the rise due to their effectiveness in manipulating unsuspecting users to wire money or perform tasks, under the guise of important figure heads such as the CEO of a major company. In addition, these impersonating accounts can be extremely damaging to the reputation of the legitimate brand. Unfortunately, customers and followers are often quick to blame the brand itself rather than the threat actor or digital platform in these circumstances. 

Account takeovers on social media, email and elsewhere of both corporate and executive accounts can be extremely damaging to brands. In the past few years we have seen notable, high profile executives have their social accounts taken over, giving them immediate access to followers in order to conduct crypto scams or other phishing attacks. 

Five Essentials of a Good Online Brand Protection Software

Brand Asset and Attack Surface Discovery

In order to protect your brand, you must first determine which assets are potentially vulnerable. Creating a repository of the corporate social media accounts, domains, apps and other platforms is a great first step in finding potential exposures. Security teams should treat these brand assets as they would other assets and data that need to be protected. Once you’ve defined what you own, you can begin monitoring for impersonations or brand abusers. Beyond asset discovery is attack surface discovery. This step involves identifying where your brand currently engages online – social media, domains, mobile apps, code sharing sites, etc. It also involves identifying places where your brand may be mentioned or targeted – the deep and dark web for instance.

Domain Monitoring and Protection

Many consumers’ first interaction with your brand will be through your website, particularly in today’s digital-first world. Knowing this, protecting your owned domains and quickly taking down fraudulent websites is a critical component of any digital brand protection strategy. Proactive and continuous domain monitoring allows you to identify domains at the point of registration, so you can take action to have them removed before any malicious content can be hosted. Proactively registering look-alike domains is another step that can help prevent your brand from becoming a target.

Social Media Protection

As with websites, social media represents a high value tool for brands to engage with customers and the community. Understanding your brand’s (and your executives’) social presence will allow you to ensure the correct security controls are in place. Leveraging a social media security tool to quickly find and take down fake social media profiles and address account takeover attempts is critical to protect your brand at scale. 

Dark Web Monitoring 

As mentioned above, it’s important that security teams have visibility to any relevant attack chatter related to your brand. Monitoring dark web forums and chat rooms for brand mentions can help you thwart attacks in the planning phase or quickly identify potential threats or breaches.

Takedowns and Adversary Disruption

Taking action on brand abuse is critical for digital brand protection in order to actually remove the threat before it reaches followers. Relying on a third party vendor to leverage partnerships with social networks, hosts and registrars will help alleviate internal resources and ensure takedown requests are addressed quickly.

Monitoring and Protecting Your Company’s Digital Footprint 

24/7 digital brand protection is a vital piece of protecting your company’s public attack surface and is ideal for security teams addressing external threats to their brand, executives, data and customers.

Monitoring for malicious domains, fake accounts, attack chatter and account takeover attempts is a proactive way to ensure the only people engaging with your followers and customers are legitimate. If a threat to your brand is discovered, partnering with an organization that has experience with website takedowns and social media threats will ensure any malicious activity is quickly mitigated and removed. 

Choosing the Most Advanced Protection for Your Digital Assets with ZeroFox 

Modern threats require advanced digital brand protection. With any threat, speed is key and ZeroFox is able to quickly identify and respond to threats that leverage a company’s brand, logo and trademarks across all social media and digital platforms. When the accounts and sites used to grow that engagement are hacked or impersonated, it can be instantly devastating. ZeroFox alerts you to and removes posts, accounts and sites that could harm your brand and takes action on your behalf so you can get back to your day job.

Digital Brand Protection from ZeroFox enables companies to:

  • Protect brand investment – Provide powerful protection for your brand where it matters most: where customers engage, brand is built, products are bought and business is won or lost.
  • Maximize customer engagement – Maximize your returns by safeguarding brand reputation and ensuring every customer is engaging with authentic accounts and advertisements.
  • Focus on promotion – Minimize time spent finding and cleaning up costly brand risks using artificial intelligence-based analysis, automated content takedowns and easy-to-use policies.

ZeroFox’s brand protection software secures a company against account takeover, fake accounts, spoofed domains and scams that target customers. Want to learn more about how to incorporate Brand Intelligence into your security strategy? Listen to our webinar on “Brand Threat Intelligence: The First Line of Defense” on demand.

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