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Nowadays, virtually everyone is using social media, making social networks a new ground zero for cybercrime.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, social media fraud represented 26% of all losses last year, $770 million in total.
Not only is the increase in quantity alarming, but cybercriminals are also getting more sophisticated in using varying techniques and methodologies to launch social media fraud and scams.
This means that protecting your business from these social media frauds will be even more challenging, and you’ll need to put in more effort, time, and resources if you really want to succeed.
In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about how to protect your business and stop social media fraud, and by the end of this guide, you’d have learned about:
The most common and dangerous social media fraud scenario for businesses is when they are impersonated by bad actors as a part of the social media fraud scheme.
For example, a scammer may create a fraudulent account impersonating your brand on Instagram and then use the account to scam people who are interested in your brand, potentially including your prospects and customers.
This brand impersonation can significantly hurt your business’s reputation and revenue, and the damage can be long-term and even permanent when not managed properly.
As the old saying goes: trust can take years and even decades to build and yet only seconds to destroy. Damage to your reputation due to social media fraud may result in loss of partnerships and sponsorships, loyal customers, and, ultimately, revenue.
The basic form of social media impersonation involves a bad actor creating one or more fake social media accounts on relevant social networks. They will use your brand’s distinguishable information (i.e., phone number, office address, etc.,) brand elements (logo, website URL, color palette), and content (photos, videos) to trick your audience into thinking that they are interacting with your brand’s legitimate social media accounts.
Once they’ve successfully attracted your audience and/or followers to this fake page, they can then launch the second phase of the attack, which can come in various different forms:
Impersonators may use various techniques and methodologies in performing social media impersonation fraud.
However, most social media impersonation frauds involve these characteristics:
Since most social media fraud techniques are based on social engineering methodologies (i.e., phishing), the most important foundation in preventing social media frauds from affecting your company is to prepare employees, customers, and anyone with access to your company’s information accordingly.
Here are some actionable steps you can take:
Having a strong intellectual property portfolio will make removing infringing posts and accounts much simpler, as most platforms require attaching evidence of trademark, copyright or patent registration.
Domestically, it’s important to register for intellectual property rights. But you also need to register for IP rights in China even if you have no intention of selling in China. Counterfeiters are able to copy product designs simply from seeing photos.
It’s very important to make sure your employees have adequate cybersecurity training so they can:
It’s crucial to consider that fraudsters regularly evolve their techniques and methodologies, so the training program should be comprehensive and updated regularly to include the newest methodologies and trends.
It’s recommended to make phishing, fraud, and cybersecurity training a mandatory part of your employee onboarding program.
While this technique won’t be effective for phishing attempts involving brand new websites or apps, it’s still important to block known IPs, websites, and apps on your network.
You can also implement ACL (Access Control List) on your routing or security device and configure it accordingly to control which users can access and use certain files, which can also be effective in mitigating the damage of successful phishing attacks.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) is essentially asking for a secondary (or more) piece of information besides your password before you can log in to an account.
This information can be:
With 2FA or MFA in place, in the event of successful phishing attempts when an employee’s credential is compromised, the attacker still won’t be able to access the account without the second (or more) factor of information, adding an extra layer of security to protect your company’s sensitive information.
Successful phishing attacks may not only result in data breaches but also malware infections and other damages.
During ransomware infection, for example, you may be locked out of essential files and apps, impacting your day-to-day operations.
To prevent this issue, it’s best to establish a regular and complete backup schedule, ideally with the 3-2-1 principles:
Unfortunately, creating a fake social media account impersonating your brand is very easy and affordable for scammers, much easier than building a fake website with a squatted domain name.
To combat these bad actors, we have gathered three key preventative measures:
Here are the steps you can take:
The idea is that by having strong social branding on social media, it’s easier for your target audience to differentiate your legitimate profile from impersonating ones.
While social media branding and presence can be a pretty deep subject on its own, here are some general tips you can follow:
Focus on being unique and recognizable to make it difficult for anyone to impersonate your brand.
Since 100% prevention of brand impersonation is virtually impossible, early detection is a crucial step in maintaining your brand’s positive reputation against these impersonators.
Once you’ve identified the fake social media accounts impersonating your brand, it’s important to take action as fast as possible.
Remember that leaving these accounts as they are for another day means another opportunity for them to damage your reputation and brand image.
Below are our detailed guides on how to enforce impersonations on different social media platforms on your own:
Social media frauds and scammers are on the rise, and the future isn’t really that promising either. Cybercriminals and other social media fraudsters only have one realistic solution: steer your brand away from them, and implement more sophisticated security measures to prevent them, along with a Social Media Monitoring Service.
With the tips explained above, you’ll guide your business through the murky waters of social media while protecting it from fraud attacks.