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GUEST ARTICLE: Why do brands need to be more vigilant about brand infringement attacks?

Mumbai: The meaning of brand safety has evolved over time for marketers. In traditional marketing, a marketer’s focus was to ensure their trademarks and copyrights were protected.

When it came to brand safety, brands primarily focused on making sure their advertisements appeared in a safe environment.

With the evolution of the digital era, things became complicated for brands. Today, brand safety is more than just safe ad placement. It has grown to the point where it is necessary to take the right measures to combat infringement attackers who target unsuspecting and trusting customers of the brand.

The evolution of threats in the digital era

As digital technology took a revolutionary leap, fraudsters also took bigger and smarter steps to con marketers. They have used the digital realm as a medium to steal the trademarks and intellectual property of brands and use them against them.

In most cases, this digital theft leads to the theft of money or information from people who are loyal to the brand.

The fraudsters look for one loophole to seep through the brand’s protected assets and use them for their own benefit. And with the evolution of the digital arena, fraudsters are becoming smarter. With time, infringement attacks have gone beyond just tampering with the intellectual property of a brand.

Some of the evolving infringement threats looming on the brands are:

ATO attacks: The fraudsters have mastered the skill to replicate and misuse the brand’s domain, website, and logo. They have broadened their level of attacks from just intellectual properties to stealing the brand’s consumer data.

One of the highest-growing infringement threats to brands is account takeover attacks, where a fraudster gets access to a person’s online account. Generally, the fraudster takes over the account of the user and locks them out of their own account. According to a recent report, ATO attacks have increased by up to 90 per cent in the past two years.

The consequences of the ATO attacks are not limited to consumer data leaks. It leads to the brand losing the trust of a loyal customer. When a user’s account is compromised, they are unable to access the brand’s website or services.

The user’s data is a gold mine for fraudsters, as they use it to steal payment details and make purchases. Either the money is directly taken from the accounts or the points on shopping sites and apps are used to buy goods and services.

While the pandemic has caused a surge in ATO attacks, it has also made it necessary for brands to be more vigilant to protect their consumers’ data. To bring trust and safety to the entire customer experience journey, brands must take charge and ensure consumer data protection.

Fake customer care numbers: Fraudsters have hacked not only consumer data but also brand customer service numbers. With the growing demand for being online, brands have started putting their customer care numbers online. And the con artists have discovered yet another winning pot from which to profit.

The number of cases where people have been duped by a fake customer care executive has increased. When a consumer searches for the number online, they find the customer care number available. But here is the catch.

The fraudsters put fake customer care numbers under the name of a legitimate brand. And when consumers call on these numbers, they are often fooled into transferring money.

Eventually, the fraudster gets the money, the consumer loses the money, and the brand name used to dupe them loses its reputation without their knowledge.

Spam emails: The search engine is no longer necessary because fraudsters can now enter the inbox without raising suspicion. The fraudsters can use a brand’s email template, and logo to reach out to their consumers, just like a legitimate brand. In most cases, they lure users with things like an “extravagant offer” or an “urgent message” to take quick action.

Usually, the user is either asked to share their personal information in exchange for the offer or asked to download an app or visit a website. When the user takes the action, the fraudsters get access to their information and can misuse it for their own gain.

This is a wake up call

As digital marketing is set to take new leaps, cyber risks are also looming in the digital era, which is going to impact both brands and their loyal consumers. And with the growing threats, the need for brands to incorporate a shield for their new digital world has become a necessity. Thus, the brands have to go beyond the traditional definition of brand safety. To uphold the brand’s reputation, the brands have to focus on a solution to protect not just their brand but also their consumers and stakeholders.

The author of this article is mFilterIt director and co-founder Amit Relan.

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