Have you ever clicked on a well-known brand’s social media competition, only to find out their name has changed ever so slightly? Or clicked on a website link that takes you to a new version of a brand’s website? That is brand impersonation. It is a carefully created duplication of a brand’s online platform/s and the aim is to trick clients or customers into revealing their sensitive information.


While it seems like a rather old trick in the fraudster book, South Africa has recorded an increase in brand impersonation since 2020. According to The State of Brand Protection Report 2021, 73% of local respondents revealed they were aware of at least one website or email-related impersonation of their brand.


You may think only big corporations have been the major targets, but in fact businesses of all shapes and sizes are at threat. In the early days of lockdown, brand impersonation attacks rose by 75% as more consumers turned to the world of online shopping. At the same time, clicks on dangerous links increased by 84.5% in 2020.


What are the consequences of being a victim to a brand impersonation attack?


Whether it’s brand impersonation on social media, via sms or email, businesses stand to lose significantly if they fall victim to such an attack. From brand trust, to a damaged reputation and financial loss while recovering lost or solemn information, a successful brand impersonation attack can wreak havoc on a business. Even if data is not lost, if scams are making the rounds by using your brand logo and name, you are less likely to be trusted by consumers.


How to safeguard your business from brand impersonation


Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can protect your brand online.


Make sure your provider uses DMARC


DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is an authentication protocol that detects when a domain is being used without authorisation and can block the delivery of mail from the unauthenticated domain.



Install an SSL certificate



An SSL certificate is one of the most basic elements of website security, a must for any business with a website. An SSL certificate encrypts all data between your website and the end user, so that if data is found it cannot be deciphered.



Invest in anti-malware 



Anti-malware software spends each and every day scanning for and removing malicious software designed to cause damage to websites and their data. Backup files are also created in the event that an attack does sneak through, meaning your data will be restored instantly.


In summary, invest in online security before it costs you your business to recover and restore lost sensitive customer or business data. Brand impersonation can seem harmless at first, but if successful your trust and credibility is at steak.