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When it comes to cyber security threats, the obvious ones are still lurking (phishing threats and ransomware, for example). However, the increase in online brand impersonation is a significant concern for many organisations.
And it is no longer just an IT department issue – it's everybody’s job.
The risk to customer trust and brand equity should be enough to prompt you to increase employee awareness, put in place controls and policies to protect your brand and your customers.
While brand impersonation is a continually growing and evolving problem, email phishing schemes are a favoured (and common) method used by scammers to get customers of established brands to volunteer personal details such as login credentials or to click on malicious links.
Remember that email you received from Microsoft asking for you to respond with your username and password so that they could "fix" your account?
And every organisation can be at risk, so don’t be misled into thinking you are not a target because you have the most up to date cyber policies or because you are a smaller organisation.
Bec Ney, Head of Marketing at The Missing Link, urges organisations to understand that cybercriminals are continually improving their methods and monetising the trusting relationship between brand and customer for their gain.
“This not only affects brand reputation but also leaves our customers open to cyber threats,” warns Bec.
Understandably, cyber security and the protection of your brand equity does generally fall to your IT department. But the rise in phishing threats suggests that there is a need for a more comprehensive approach.
By getting your marketing department and client relations employees involved, you can encourage client education and awareness.
No matter the size of the organisation, brand impersonation can significantly damage a brand's reputation and cause large financial losses:
Bec adds that the shift in brand equity can have a disastrous outcome. “Brand equity today is of utmost importance. Marketing teams for every brand – big or small – invest a lot of time and budget into building this equity and the reputation they build contributes to the loyalty of their customers.”
“While traditionally marketing departments would have step by step procedures for protecting their brand's reputation via brand guidelines, we now must also add in efforts to ensure brand impersonation is kept at bay.”
The reality is that defending against and mitigating brand impersonation needs to become part of your entire brand strategy, not just a background problem to be left to your IT department. Instead of relegating cyber security to only one department, have your IT and marketing teams work together.
Engage your IT team to educate marketing employees on the strategy’s scammers use to implement brand impersonation, then show how to spot it. This will help all employees to make more security-conscious decisions about how to promote and manage your brand. IT and marketing can then collaborate on what security technologies to incorporate into their already-existing processes as well as implementing tighter, safer controls and policies to protect the company and its stakeholders.
Most importantly, communicating openly and honestly with your clients is a crucial factor in protecting your brand equity.
The key to minimising the risk of your clients falling prey to a cyber-attack lies in having strong customer awareness and on-going education about email phishing threats. And encouraging the reporting of anything suspicious will also open up channels for feedback. Showing your customers that you care about the security of their personal information and that you are actively working to protect them helps builds closer connections with your clients, increasing your brand equity.
Eager to find out more about how you can protect your brand? Talk to one of our security consultants to learn more.