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Why CISOs Should Care About Brand Impersonation Scams


Today's topic? Why CISOs should care about brand impersonation scams... and how to circumvent them before the damage has already been done.

After all, an organization's reputation is a valuable asset that cannot be measured but adds immense value to its balance sheets. However, with brand impersonation rising, organizations are hard-pressed to keep their reputation (namely customer loyalty and brand recognition) intact.

Cybercriminals impersonate brands to propagate malware, commit advertising fraud, business email compromise (BEC), phishing, and other common social engineering attacks. Such tactics cause irreparable harm to a company's reputation.

So what's the solution? Well, our team of ethical hackers provides an overview of how brand imitation scams work (and ways to guard against them in 2023 and beyond.)

Firstly, What is a Brand Impersonation Attack?

Brand impersonation attacks are a type of cyberattack that impersonates a trusted brand, enterprise, organization, or business to ultimately trick target users into disclosing sensitive details or personal information. Attackers may receive financial rewards, be employed by other companies, or act independently to harm the brand's reputation or steal a victim's confidential information.

Brand impersonation is also known as brand spoofing. Security researchers say it is one of the most successful types of cyberattacks since people tend to trust reputable brand names blindly or without too much thought. For example, imagine you are making an online purchase, and a window with your bank's logo and forms ask for your credit card details. Most people wouldn't think twice about inputting that information as it seems genuine, but this could be an attacker trying to access confidential banking credentials.

According to recent reports, 25% of enterprises receive spoofed branded emails. In fact, Keepnet Labs reported that 1 in 3 employees clicks malicious links in phishing emails; according to that same report, a staggering 1 in 8 employees share the information as requested over these illegitimate emails. As detailed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), numerous users have lost over US$ 2 billion due to brand-impersonating scams since 2017. 

How Do Brand Impersonation Attacks Work?

Brand impersonation scams usually involve setting up fake websites, email accounts, logos, and social media pages that appear genuine. Attackers may also hijack legitimate accounts by sending malicious links or stealing account credentials through phishing emails.

Additionally, they may use social engineering tactics such as creating false offers and discounts or using fake reviews to lure customers. Once the victim has been lured in, attackers can easily steal personal information or payment details. Alternatively, they may use the stolen data to commit fraud or sabotage a company’s reputation.

Damage From Brand Impersonation Scams

Brand impersonation scams not only destroy customer trust and loyalty but also threaten sales, existing business operations, and potential new ventures.

Marliis Reinkort, the CEO and founder of Code Galaxy—an online coding school for kids—says, "We have had a close shave with brand impersonation at Code Galaxy. Someone created a business profile—website, social media profiles, and everything—with our brand identity. They went to advertise the same services we offer at ridiculously lower prices. Only, they didn't even offer the services. They simply made away with the money."

Code Galaxy is just one example of the havoc brand impersonation can wreak. "The reputational damage dealt a huge blow to the business," Reinkort summarizes. They are far from alone: notable brands affected by brand impersonation scams include, but are not limited to, Nike, Puma, Adidas, Casio, Crocs, Sketchers, Caterpillar, New Balance, Fila, and Vans. 

Preventative Measures Against Brand Impersonation

The use of cyber threats is ever-increasing, and so is the need for CISOs to stay informed about new attack vectors that can harm their organizations' reputations. Protecting your brand name is important to ensure customer trust and loyalty.

Here are some ways you can protect your company from brand impersonation attacks:

  1. Monitor social media channels: Make sure that all the social media accounts of your company are regularly monitored for any suspicious activity related to your brand. If someone is using an identical or similar name or logo, make sure to report it immediately

  2. Stay vigilant on search engines: Track brand mentions and keywords related to your business. If any unauthorized websites or other malicious entities are posing as your company, contact the respective platforms and provide evidence of infringement

  3. Educate employees: In 2023, close to 95% of security-related concerns occur due to errors by internal employees. By training employees adequately, businesses can prevent a large chunk of brand impersonation attacks. Enterprise should provide an employee manual about the dos and don'ts

  4. Safeguard your company's domain: Most fraudsters wait for domain expiration and buy them. Thus, companies face massive losses when the domain becomes unavailable. One way to tackle this is by setting up an auto-renew on the domain

  5. Check for similar domains: Check the web for websites with similar domain names with different top-level domains (.com, .org, .co, and .tech)

  6. IR team and takedown requests: CISOs should adopt a proactive approach to prevent brand-impersonating attacks. You can hire a dedicated incident response (IR) team to handle such issues or delegate the task to your IT team. Also, CISOs might need to orchestrate mitigation efforts through approaches like website (fake) takedown requests and communication with registrars for legal actions


Brand impersonation attacks affect brand reputation and cause monetary and reputational losses. To minimize the impact of such attacks, businesses need to be vigilant and proactive in their strategy. They must monitor social media channels, search engines, and similar domains to identify suspicious activities related to their brand.

Additionally, enterprises should educate employees about cyber threats and implement takedown policies. This will help them protect the company's brand identity while avoiding fraud and reputational damage.

The best defence against brand impersonation is being proactive and taking the necessary steps to protect your company's reputation. Doing so will help maintain customer trust and loyalty and ensure business continuity.

Is your organization ready to take its security posture to the next level? Book your free, zero-obligation call with our team today to experience the difference 95% manual pentesting makes.

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