Survey Results Are In: The Three Myths Of Digital Risk

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The digital risk landscape is rapidly expanding, making it more difficult for organizations to monitor external, unregulated channels for risks targeting their business, their employees or their customers. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of these new opportunities, and are leveraging them to their advantage. For example, recent research from ZeroFox found over 443,000 phishing domains over the course of 12 months. 

Understanding Consumer Perception of Digital Risk

One of the main challenges organizations encounter when it comes to digital risk is the speed and scale of threats developing. As the landscape has grown so quickly in recent years, many consumers and employees aren’t aware of the full realm of threats that exists digitally. Phishing and malware attacks have become part of our modern vernacular, however, today digital risk expands beyond that to include brand impersonation, piracy and insider threats. To get a better understanding of how people broadly view digital risk, ZeroFox asked 1,000 consumers over the age of 18 about their digital habits and their views regarding online security. 

As it turns out, consumers are becoming more aware of digital threats but are still lacking critical insights that will keep them and their personal information safe. When we compare consumer perception to ZeroFox’s expert insights, those gaps become clear. As organizations continue to work to uphold security standards in a distributed, remote-first workforce, it’s important that consumers and organizations understand these gaps. Let’s take a closer look at some of the popular myths.

Myth: Digital Risks and Scams Happen on Social Media or via Email 

Consumer Perception: When it comes to threats online, many consumers have become accustomed to hearing about scams on social media or sketchy emails asking them to click a link. In fact, according to the survey, 63 percent of consumers claim to have seen the most scams or digital attacks on social media or emails.

ZeroFox Analysis: While attackers do leverage social media platforms and emails to carry out attacks, as noted above, digital risk encompasses so much more than this, and attackers are exploiting all avenues. Threats are up across all digital touchpoints and aren’t limited to a specific network. ZeroFox has observed an increase in potential threat activity across the board, including social media sources, blogs, forums, covert communication channels and more. For curious consumers that explore various aspects of the web, there needs to be an extra level of caution, especially on platforms where threats aren’t regularly discussed and addressed. 

Myth: Account Takeovers Will Only Impact my Brand and Public Perception. 

Consumer Perception: Consumers are more afraid of encountering account takeovers (30 percent) than ransomware/malware (28 percent), or phishing (14 percent), highlighting the value individuals put on their reputations and assets compared to purely financial loss. 

ZeroFox Analysis: The consumers’ fear around digital risk specific to account takeovers is not unjustified. When comparing this last 6 month period to the prior 6 month period, alerts for account takeovers are up 50 percent overall on the ZeroFox Platform. However, what consumers need to consider are the larger impacts of an account takeover compared with an attack that targets financial information. The reality is that the cost of an account hack may mean a drop in engagement, fewer followers to convert to customers and, ultimately, an inability to fully maximize the return on your social media investment. With reputational and financial loss on the line, individuals and businesses alike need to acknowledge the threat of account takeovers and put in preemptive steps to prevent them. 

Myth: I will Never Fall Victim to a Cyberattack. 

Consumer Perception: Many consumers continue to scroll the web with very little regard for the safety precautions they should be taking, thinking it could never happen to them. For example, according to the survey, 62 percent of consumers say they haven’t encountered a scam on social platforms, and 66 percent have never been a victim of a scam or attack on a digital platform.

ZeroFox Analysis: In this situation, reality differs with perception because recognizing what an actual scam looks like is tricky. Attackers have become extremely sophisticated and it is oftentimes challenging to spot scams and attacks unless you are trained to do so. It’s very likely that consumers encounter fake or impersonated accounts and just don’t realize it. When comparing this last 6 month period to the prior 6 month period, alert volume on ZeroFox’s Platform is up 95% for executives alone. In the past six months, inappropriate use violations, including profanity, drug-related or sexually-explicit language, are up 101%. Impersonation threats make up roughly 26% of our alert volume, making it one of the largest threats ZeroFox alerts on. This all indicates that these risks are out there, consumers might just not be accustomed to spotting them. 

Further Investment Required to Combat Digital Risk

Overall, consumers are generally aware of digital risk and threats that persist on digital platforms. As the digital landscape continues to expand, so do the opportunities for vulnerabilities and threats. With the rate of acceleration, it’s become vital to implement defensive security tools and processes that act quickly to remediate credible threats. Organizations need a flexible, automated approach that can monitor all digital channels for organization-specific risks, trigger alerts and remediate malicious posts, profiles, content or apps.

If you are interested in learning more about how ZeroFox can help protect you and your digital presence online, click here.