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Spoofing, Scams, and Data Hacks: Protecting Your Brand Image Online

For companies doing business online, the costs of website spoofing and data hacks can be devastating in both money and brand capital. But when a corporation as large and technologically proficient as Microsoft still falls victim despite spending a reported $1 billion annually on cybersecurity, how are other businesses supposed to be able to protect themselves, their brands, and their customers?

The Cost of Minimal Cyber Security

Online actors engaging in spoofing, data hacking, and other malicious behaviors cost companies billions of dollars annually in lost sales, decreased market valuations, legal fees, settlement costs, government-imposed penalties, downtime, and more. Yet perhaps more damaging than these financial losses are the impacts that negative publicity and poor customer experiences can have on brand image.

Data Hacks

Failing to adequately protect customer data has become an increasingly costly affair, with IBM finding that the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, up 15% over just three years. These costs often include staggering legal and settlement fees, which can mount quickly: within months of genetic-testing company 23andMe’s 2023 revelation of a data breach impacting nearly 7 million individuals, the company already faced roughly three-dozen potential class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals
impacted by the breach. The cost of data hacks can be jaw-droppingly high when it comes to a company’s diminished value of its brand image. During the week in spring 2022 when identity-verification company Okta Inc. announced a security breach involving a third-party supplier, its market capitalization
tumbled by $6 billion. Further, a comprehensive study by Bitglass examining the three biggest data breaches of each year from 2016-2018 found that, on average, those companies’ share prices dipped an average of 7.5% following the revelation of the hacks.

Brand Spoofing

“Spoofing” can take a number of different forms—including website or phone number spoofing—but the one commonality all spoofing scams share is the use of deception to convince a potential victim that he or she is dealing with a trusted source when, in fact, they are dealing with a scammer. Website spoofers create spot-on replicas of familiar sites, aiming to exploit the established trust a brand has with its customers to lure them into a false sense of security. This harms victims as well as the brand being spoofed.

Another scam related to spoofing is known as “cybersquatting.” Cybersquatting occurs whenmalicious actors create a fake website mimicking both the appearance and domain name of a legitimate site. When hackers use slight, hard-to-notice spelling errors or disparities in the URLs of their bogus sites, this is sometimes known as “typosquatting.”

Cybersquatting has been on the rise for more than a decade, with the number of cybersquatting disputes filed annually more than doubling from 2013 to 2023, according to the World Intellectual Property Organizaiton (WIPO).
Scammers attract potential victims to spoofed websites by, for example, sending malicious links through phishing emails, text messages, or even fake QR codes. Once a victim has arrived at the spoofed site, scammers can steal the personal data of would-be customers who think they are transacting with a legitimate business.

How to Protect against Data Breaches and Website Spoofing

When even multibillion-dollar companies built on tech expertise like Facebook and Microsoft can’t fully protect themselves from data hacks and website spoofing, how are other businesses without nearly the same resources or expertise supposed to protect themselves, their brands, and their
customers?

Preventing Data Breaches with Website Security

One of the best ways to protect your company, brand, and customers from data breaches and other malicious hacks is to conduct regular scans of your website for vulnerabilities to the latest threats. While it is impractical for many businesses to have the expertise and capacity in-house to perform such monitoring, there are numerous third-party cybersecurity services available
that span the full spectrum of cost and quality. While getting a subpar service might save money in the short run, it could end up costing your company and customers dearly over the long term, so it is worth investing the time and money to find and retain an effective website security vendor.

Anti-Spoofing with Trust Badges

One way to guard against website spoofing is to scour the web for imposter sites and then work to have them taken down one-by-one. However, this approach ultimately is likely to become a fruitless and expensive game of online whack-a-mole. A more practical approach is to guarantee the authenticity of your company’s legitimate website with a trust badge or similar digital verification tool. Trust badges signal to visitors that a site’s authenticity has been verified by a reputable third-party. As with cybersecurity services, trust badges vary greatly in terms of effectiveness and value, with some being little more than easily faked images while others are smart badges built on fully functional and dynamic script, making them impossible to copy or falsify.

If you choose to use a trust badge to signal to your customers that your website is authentic, it is important to choose one that offers a high level of protection and that cannot be spoofed itself. Otherwise, you are giving your customers (and perhaps yourself) a false sense of security.

Multiple Services or All-in-One?

While there are many companies that offer website-verification services and many others whose areas of expertise are website security and data protection, hiring multiple vendors can be complicated and costly while potentially still leaving your business open to vulnerabilities.

Truly Legit offers an innovative, all-in-one solution. Truly Legit’s comprehensive website authentication and security suite includes state-of-the-art smart trust badges, monthly security scans, and even real-time analytics, all in one package. By receiving each of these services from Truly Legit, you ensure seamless integration while avoiding the complications and expense of dealing with multiple vendors and platforms. Fully scalable to accommodate websites with as few as 2,000 monthly visits to those with more than one million, Truly Legit has transparent pricing starting at a startup-friendly $23.99 per month.
And Truly Legit doesn’t require any technical expertise to set up or use.

Conclusion: The Best Solution for Protecting Your Brand from Website Spoofing and Data Hacks

When it comes to protecting your company’s hard-earned brand image and hard-earned cash against malicious online actors, a trusted, scalable, affordable, all-in-one solution like Truly Legit offers a number of advantages over the alternatives, like trying to handle everything in-house or having to deal with multiple different vendors whose services might not be compatible. In all likelihood, the threats posed by malicious online actors will only continue to increase over time, so whatever solution you decide is right for your company, it is important for you to have a powerful, reliable ally in your corner.

Sources:

Fung, Brian. (23 March 2022). Microsoft confirms it was breached by hacker group. CNN Business. https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/23/tech/microsoft-lapsus/index.html

Cohen, Tova. (26 January 2017). Microsoft to continue to invest over $1 billion a year in cyber security. Reuters https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN15A1F4/.

IBM. Cost of a Data Breach Report 2023. (July 2023). https://www.ibm.com/reports/data-breach

Frankel, Allison (30 January 2024). As 23andMe goes to mediation in hacked DNA case, plaintiffs’ firm warns of collusion. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/legal/legalindustry/column-23andme-goes-mediation-hacked-dnacase-plaintiffs-firm-warns-collusion-2024-01-30/

Bitglass. (2019). Kings of the Monster Breaches. https://pages.bitglass.com/rs/418-ZAL-815/images/CDFY19Q2KingsoftheMonsterBreaches.pdf

Ahmed, Arooj. (25 December 2022). New data reveals there’s been an influx of cybersquatting scams in 2022. Digital Information World.
https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2022/12/new-data-reveals-theres-been-influx-of.html

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). (Accessed 2 February 2024). Record Number of Domain Name Cases filed with WIPO in 2023.
https://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/caseload.html

 

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