Digital Brand Protection
Brand Protection: 6 Threats and How Digital Risk Protection Can Help
What is Brand Protection?
Brands with an online presence, in the form of websites, web applications, mobile applications, and social media accounts, are exposed to a variety of cyber threats.
Attackers design social engineering campaigns aimed at harvesting sensitive information from brand properties and customers, and compromise customer accounts. Their methods range from large-scale phishing campaigns, to exploitation of application vulnerabilities, to fake websites or social accounts that impersonate brand properties.
Industry research has shown that one in every three consumers exposed to a cyber attack or data breach would see the brand as responsible for their damage, close their online account, or end their business relationship with the organization. This makes it critical for brands to gain visibility over cyber threats and act to prevent impact to their customers.
Brand protection services combine advanced security technology with human expertise to detect attacks on brands, wherever they occur in an organization’s online presence. These services help by:
Continuously monitoring online properties.
Detecting risks and providing early warning for in-house teams.
Actively responding to attacks.
Providing take-down services that remove malicious websites, misleading online postings, and fake social media accounts.
What is Digital Brand Protection (DRP)?
DRP solutions include a comprehensive source of intelligence that can help detect and mitigate external threats to your brand. Digital brand abuse can happen anywhere online, and must be detected in time to prevent lost revenue and reputational damage.
Effective brand protection involves much more than identifying brand references online. Security teams need to capture data from a variety of data sources, prioritizing brand-related channels and automatically analyzing matches. Otherwise, there may be too much data to review and teams can be overwhelmed by false positives.
Once a specific threat and its sources are identified, organizations must detect all activity by the threat actors using automated collection and trained analysts. These analysts must identify threats related to brands, and carry out appropriate workflows and processes to mitigate them. Expert knowledge on brand threats and the company’s industry is critical for accurate detection of threats and appropriate response.
Commonly, DRP is offered as a service, which combines technologies for automated detection of brand violations, together with human experts who can identify real infringements, investigate them, and act to mitigate the threat.
Key Features of Brand Protection Solutions
Brand protection services can discover domains that impersonate an organization, its logo, products, or trademarks. Discovery can be based on a range of data sources, both open and proprietary to the solution provider - including DNS records, domain registration data, search engines, and active web crawling.
Domain discovery focuses on detecting domains involved in phishing email campaigns, identifying look-alike domains and subdomains that can deceive online users, and monitoring new domain registrations to identify new phishing campaigns as they are being set up by attackers.
Social Media Impersonation
Brand protection services can help prevent misrepresentation and trademark infringement on social media channels. Attackers often create fake social media accounts and conduct malicious or misleading branding campaigns, representing the original company. Brand protection can identify these fraudulent social media accounts across channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and shut them down.
Brand protection services can actively detect fake apps that pretend to be legitimate brand applications, unauthorized brand affiliations, and rogue applications - whether they are delivered as mobile apps or web applications. Brand protection solutions scan app stores like Google Play, Apple App Store, and other unofficial app-stores to uncover illegitimate applications and shut them down.
Brand protection is not a one-time activity - scanning must be performed continuously to ensure ongoing detection of new threats. Brand protection services must have large-scale probing and scanning capabilities that enable real time detection and alerting as soon as new phishing campaigns, fake domains or applications go live.
Comprehensive brand protection services are not limited to passive reporting. They provide take-down services operated by the provider’s Security Operation Centers (SOC). Take-down services mean that security staff at the brand protection provider take immediate action on a client’s behalf to remove threats from the online environment.
Brand Protection Strategies
Here are a few important strategies to protect brands from digital infringements:
Educating stakeholders about cybersecurity as a major risk — it is important to assign monetary value to potential risks can help raise awareness at the board level. This is the key to changing company-wide strategies and policies governing cybersecurity.
The importance of prevention — raising awareness of prevention creates a culture of security among primary users of digital assets. Security is integrated into your organization's DNA, making it more effective and robust.
Involve your supplier ecosystem — create an environment in which your brand can operate by including suppliers, suppliers, and everyone else in your value chain in your digital protection plans. This not only minimizes entry points, but also allows brands to track every input that goes into the finished product, from the product's origin to the customer's hands.
Leverage security technology — artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) can perform automated data searches for faster detection and response to brand compromise. Security platforms can not only detect brand infringements but also assist teams in automatically responding to them and preventing harm from potential breaches.
Consolidate cybersecurity — establishing the role of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) improves visibility and coordination within the organization and across departments. The ability to view cybersecurity as a core function within the organization improves the interface between security teams, IT and operational technology (OT) systems and provides improved protection.
Brand Protection Services
Today, counterfeiters operate across multiple digital channels. The only way to comprehensively protect an organization is using brand protection technologies:
Keyword monitoring — this involves using automated bots to search high-risk websites for keywords related to a brand and find listings and content containing those keywords. This step must be automated and must occur on an ongoing basis, because counterfeiters constantly change and update fake product listings on marketplaces.
Image recognition — software that can quickly analyze images online. This can range from simple photo recognition, which allows the solution to search and find matching product images, to object recognition which makes it possible to find protected products appearing in original footage created by counterfeiters.
Pattern recognition — digital protection solutions can analyze patterns of online activity, and identify possible counterfeit listings even if they do not contain exact keywords or images used by the product. These solutions can learn and improve their detection rates over time using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.
Based on these technologies, brand protection services provide the following key functions:
Detection — detecting violations online, including fraudulent eCommerce sites, fake sites or social media profiles, and various forms of online listings that infringe on copyright.
Validation — verifying that a detected incident is a real infringement. Verification is intended to prevent accidental penalties or unwarranted action against parties who may be legitimately offering branded products.
Enforcement — removing the infringement. This includes removing infringing products from online marketplaces, removing deceptive websites, and closing fake social media accounts.
Reporting — providing brands with actionable information that can help them understand the status of their intellectual property, the scope of violations, and steps they can take to improve their security posture.
Related content: Read our guide to brand protection software