The increasing popularity of social media platforms has many consequences for our lives nowadays, one of them being that cybercriminals exploit it to try and scam people into providing their money or personal details. One of the ways this is done is through social media impersonation. In this post we will discuss what social media impersonation is, why it is being used and how you can protect your brand from its effects.
Social media impersonation, simply put, is the act of cybercriminals or other cyber-threat actors, creating fake profiles or pages to mimic a legitimate brands’ social media persona. The aim is to use the fake profiles to con victims into believing they are on the genuine page/profile, by offering fake promotions or giveaways. In some cases, the purpose of these profiles is to generate misinformation, like the alleged Russian attempt to have an impact on the 2016 US elections. This was done through widespread botnet activity on Facebook and other social media platforms.
The social media impersonation method relies on social engineering to work effectively, as many other phishing types do too, and the best impersonations, or the best stories created by fraudsters, are usually the ones that gain the fraudsters behind them the most profit or impact.
Businesses and organisations looking to defend against social media impersonation attempts might discover that this is not an easy task. Cybercriminals are constantly perfecting their methods and there isn’t really a fool-proof way to stop them from creating fake profiles and pages to trick victims into trusting them and divulging their personal information. Facebook monitors over 2 billion fake accounts every quarter, while Twitter sees roughly 7.5 million of fake accounts every week. In specific campaigns, like the 2016 US elections mentioned earlier, there can even be tens of thousands of fake profiles all working together to reach their goal, whatever that may be. When a nation-state actor is behind the activity, resources are virtually unlimited.
All these criminal activities create a massive income and impact for the actors who operate them, and this encourages them to continue the cat-and-mouse chase with the social media platforms and the defence mechanisms meant to detect and block criminal activity.
There are various steps that you can take to decrease the chances of fraudsters successfully impersonating your brand and creating both financial and reputational damage that might take years to overcome.
Below are some of the best ways to protect yourself from social media impersonation attempts:
- Increase the threat awareness of your employees and clients – often it is your clients or employees who discover incidents of impersonation, as they are interacting with your social media profiles the most. Keeping these groups aware of the possible threats and where to report if they see one, could be crucial in the fight against the fraudsters and deterring the threat.
- Use a monitoring service – It is important to have a service that provides 24/7 monitoring for any impersonations of your brand, and has the ability to take swift action against the imposters, since every minute counts when your clients or employees are at risk of being tricked into providing details.
To protect your brand and clients, FraudWatch International offers a monitoring service using proprietary anti-phishing software. Our tools look for phishing activity on the internet, including social media platforms, and we take them down. In fact, we have some of the fastest takedown times globally and a 100% success rate.
Our industry-leading takedown times mean less risk to your business, less exposure for your customers, and less risk to your hard-earned reputation. Contact us today to learn more about our social media impersonations protection.