Brand is the new perimeter: Cyberattacks involving brand abuse increase

In the UK brand impersonation scams led to significant sums in consumer losses in 2021. This arguably suggests that it may be time for many brands to rethink what constitutes their perimeter defences.

Brand abuse (aka "brandjacking") actually increased by 274 per cent during the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to analysis captured in Outseer's Q4 2021 Fraud & Payments Trends Report. Brand abuse now plays a role in nearly half of all cyberattacks worldwide.

It seems clear that cybercriminals have ?followed the money? amid a sharp rise in digital banking and ecommerce during the pandemic. And the rapidly growing number of email and text phishing scams, fraudulent social media pages, and rogue mobile apps used to impersonate banks and other trusted brands in credentials harvesting schemes means they're hitting pay dirt. Below are some key findings from the report.

Brand impersonation scams are on the rise

Expertly crafted to mirror everything from a security alert to a past-due notice, phishing attacks sent by email or text message are designed to fool recipients into clicking through to a fraudulent brand webpage and entering their login credentials?or downloading an "urgent update" of their banking app.

Roughly one in seven cyberattacks now involve phony brand websites, but fraudulent social media pages (some created by bots) are also increasingly used to lure consumers with bogus offers. For consumers in the UK, one of the most disturbing developments may be the fact attacks involving fraudulent branded apps downloaded from legitimate app stores climbed 49 per cent in Q3 2021 from levels seen in Q2, and 140 per cent when comparing Q2 2020 to the same quarter in 2021

But who gets the blame?

Even if an organisation is as much a victim as its customers who see their bank accounts compromised, this is not going to help much. According to an article in ComputerWeekly, UK consumers already blame banks, retailers, telcos, and social media companies for the increase in imposter scams.

In the aftermath of such attacks, consumers may be less likely to respond to a legitimate email marketing campaign, act on a social media promotion, or download a mobile app from a brand impersonated in a fraud scheme. At a time when digital channels are critically important to revenue generation, it could impact financial performance far more than many may realise.

Protecting the brand beyond the perimeter

In an economy where most of a company's market value stems from intangibles like brand trust, we are finding that businesses need to look beyond their perimeters to protect against this kind of reputational damage.

Cyberattack intelligence and takedown services, for example, monitor the web, app stores, and social media platforms 24/7 to detect and shut down brandjacking rackets before they cause serious harm.

If our Q4 2021 report is any indication, firms may have their hands full fending off a growing number of imposters in the months ahead.

To see how Outseer has helped its customers protect both brand and bottom line against these schemes, click here.