Brand Monitoring


What is Brand Monitoring?

In the context of cybersecurity, brand monitoring enables organizations to continuously track your company’s name and related sensitive information across the internet to protect it from misuse.

This includes watching for unauthorized use of your brand, such as fake websites, social media profiles, or email scams that pretend to be from your company.

The goal is to detect and respond quickly to any threats that could harm your brand’s reputation or lead to financial losses.

How Does Brand Monitoring Work?

Here’s a step-by-step overview of how brand monitoring software solutions typically work:

1. Define Monitoring Scope

  • Identify Assets: Determine which aspects of the brand need monitoring, such as brand name, domain names, IP addresses, and proprietary data.
  • Select Platforms: Choose the channels to monitor, including social media, web forums, blogs, news sites, dark web, and Certificate Transparency logs.

2. Set Up Monitoring Tools

  • Automated Tools: Deploy automated monitoring tools and services that can continuously scan the internet for mentions of the brand.
  • Custom Alerts: Configure custom alerts for specific keywords, phrases, and variations of the brand name to catch typosquatting and homoglyph attacks.

3. Data Collection

  • Real-Time Tracking: Collect data in real-time from various sources, including social media platforms, websites, dark web forums, and Certificate Transparency logs.
  • Data Aggregation: Aggregate data from multiple sources into a centralized system for easier analysis and reporting.

4. Analyze Data

  • Keyword Matching: Use keyword matching and pattern recognition to identify relevant mentions of the brand.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Analyze the sentiment of mentions to detect negative or potentially harmful content.
  • Contextual Analysis: Evaluate the context of mentions to distinguish between benign references and potential threats.

5. Identify Threats

  • Phishing and Scams: Detect phishing attempts, scams, and fraud using the brand name or similar domain names.
  • Domain Spoofing: Identify newly registered domains that mimic the brand’s domain (typosquatting) and could be used for malicious purposes.
  • Data Leaks: Discover leaked credentials, sensitive information, and other data breaches on the dark web.

6. Respond to Threats

  • Incident Response: Initiate an incident response process to address identified threats. This may involve investigating the source, taking down malicious content, or notifying affected parties.
  • Legal Actions: Engage legal mechanisms to issue take-down requests or pursue legal actions against infringing entities.
  • Communication: Communicate with stakeholders, including customers and partners, to inform them of the threats and actions taken.

Examples of Brand Attacks

Online brand monitoring is crucial for detecting, responding to, and mitigating impersonation attacks. Here are some examples of attacks that exploited brand recognition:

  1. Twitter: In 2020, Twitter experienced a significant impersonation attack where hackers compromised the accounts of several prominent individuals and companies, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Apple. The attackers used social media posts to promote a cryptocurrency scam, asking followers to send Bitcoin with the promise of doubling their money. This attack not only caused financial losses but also damaged the trust in Twitter’s security.
  2. Google: In 2017, a Google Docs worm infected over a million users by impersonating Google Docs. It sent an email to victims claiming to be a relative or friend who wanted to share a document. Clicking on the “Open in Docs” button prompted the user to log into Google using the familiar OAuth request asking for permissions. When the victim clicked “Allow”, full permission was granted over their entire email and contacts list. The worm then emailed everyone in their contacts list to continue propagating.
  3. Activision: In 2022, Activision suffered a data breach after malicious users gained access to their internal systems by tricking an employee with an SMS phishing text. A company spokesperson said that no employee details, player data, or game data were breached in the attack. However, reports from Insider-Gaming and vx-underground show that the attackers gained access to full names, email addresses, phone numbers, salary information, work locations, and other employee details.

How To Prevent Attacks On Your Brand

By proactively monitoring your brand, organizations can identify and mitigate threats early. Here are some strategies to help prevent attacks:

  1. Monitor Online Mentions: Beyond setting up Google Alerts, use proper brand monitoring tools to track mentions of your brand across social media channels, forums, and blogs to detect phishing attempts and scams early.
  2. Track Domain Registrations: Use tools like CertStream to monitor for new domain registrations that are similar to your brand name (typosquatting).
  3. Monitor the Dark Web: Use dark web monitoring services to locate leaked company data, employee credentials, session tokens, planned attacks, and any mentions of your brand.
  4. Run Phishing Simulations: Regularly conduct phishing simulations to educate employees and improve their ability to recognize phishing attempts.
  5. Add Legal Protection: Ensure your brand name and logos are trademarked, giving you legal grounds to challenge misuse.
  6. Collaborate with External Partners: Work with internet service providers and domain registrars to take down malicious domains.