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Brand Impersonation: Understanding the Threat of Brand Spoofing

As our lives become increasingly digital, the threat of cyberattacks continues to grow. One particularly insidious form of cyberattack is Brand Impersonation, also known as Brand Spoofing. This technique is used by hackers to steal data, which can then be used in future scams. By posing as a recognizable brand or organization familiar to the recipient, attackers can trick their victims into clicking on a link or attachment in the email.

In this article, we cover:

What Is Brand Impersonation?


Have you ever received an email from your bank or a well-known company, only to realize that it was actually a cleverly disguised scam?

This is a common tactic used by hackers called Brand Impersonation, also known as Brand Spoofing. Brand Impersonation is a technique used by hackers to gain access to data that allows them to later defraud the victim. Posing as a recognizable brand — your brand? — attackers use that trust to trick people into giving cybercriminals the information they need to scam the victim.

Brand Impersonation attacks include:

  • Robocalls: Brand impersonators use computers to dial many, many phone numbers. These robocalls often involve a prerecorded message that appears to be from the brand, but if someone responds, often a live person will join the continue the scam.
  • Vishing: Voice phishing, or “vishing,” is when a cybercriminal uses voice calls for their scam. Vishing usually uses robocalls, often impersonating a known brand, to implore the called party to “press one to speak to a representative” or “pay their bill immediately.”
  • Smishing: Cybercriminals also use text messaging to gain information. They can spoof a phone number to make it look like a text from a legitimate brand, such as “Amazon” texting you that your package needs a payment or it will be returned.

The consumer and the brand both suffer from these attacks — successful or not — and modern brands must make the effort to minimize the attacks.


Why Is Brand Impersonation So Successful?

Brand Impersonation is a highly successful attack technique. Why? Because major brands have spent millions, even billions of dollars, to develop a sense of trust based on their name.

Brand Impersonators are counting on this trust, hoping that you will see a spoofed number from that brand, hear a legitimate-sounding message, and believe that this is a brand you trust. People are less likely to question a call or email that appears to be from their bank or a company they regularly interact with.

In additionally, cybercriminals often use urgent language or compelling calls to action to make recipients act quickly, making them more likely to fall for the scam.


What Are The Potential Damages To A Brand From A Brand Impersonation Attack? 

Brand Impersonation attacks have severe consequences for a brand. Here are some potential damages that can result from these attacks:

  1. Loss of trust: Brand Impersonation attacks can erode the trust that customers have in a brand. If customers fall victim to a scam that appears to be coming from a brand — and even when they don’t — they will likely question the brand's security and reliability, resulting in lost trust, lost business, and a damaged reputation.
  2. Financial losses: Brand Impersonation attacks can result in financial losses for both the brand and its customers. If a cybercriminal gains access to a customer's personal information, they can use it to make fraudulent purchases or steal funds from bank accounts. The brand may also incur financial losses as a result of legal fees, compensation to affected customers, and other damages listed here.
  3. Legal issues: If a brand fails to take adequate measures to protect against Brand Impersonation attacks, it may face legal issues. For example, if a customer falls victim to a scam that appears to be coming from a brand, they could sue the brand, or even subject the brand to a class action lawsuit.
  4. Compliance issues: Depending on the industry, a brand may be subject to various compliance regulations that require them to mitigate spam and/or protect customer data. If a brand fails to comply with these regulations, they will likely face fines, legal issues, and further PR damage.
  5. Damage to brand image: Brand Impersonation attacks damage a brand's image and reputation. If a brand is associated with scams or cyberattacks, customers — not just the one affected, but the general public — may see the brand in a diminished light, turning to more trusted brands in the future.

Overall, the potential damages of Brand Impersonation attacks are significant and have long-lasting effects on a brand's reputation. It is essential for brands to take proactive measures to protect themselves and their customers from these types of attacks.

The good news is … something can be done about Brand Impersonation attacks. For example,

YouMailPS offers Brand Defense (full spectrum protection against vishing attacks) and Brand Monitor (surveillance of brand identity over the voice channel).

Learn more in a 15 minute, no obligation demo on how to protect your brand from Brand Impersonation attacks here >



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