Brand Protection
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Protecting Your Bank from Disinformation Attacks

 hands on a computer with icons representing banking symbols and protection


In today’s digital age, banks must have proactive measures in place when it comes to protecting their customers and the brand. Not only must banks contend with the ever-present threat of phishing and scams, but they must also stay ahead of new and emerging tactics of disinformation and impersonation attempts across emerging digital channels. In this article, we will explore the trends banks are taking to protect themselves from these attacks, and what can be done to stay ahead of the game.


Understanding the Threat of Disinformation and Impersonation Attacks on Financial Service Brands

Banks are no strangers to cyberattacks, especially phishing attacks, which are one of the biggest brand abuse issues that they face. However, now they are experiencing another form of attack, which is disinformation and impersonation. Cybercriminals are using this technique to undermine a bank’s brand protection and harm its reputation.

Disinformation and impersonation are tactics that aim to deceive the bank’s employees, customers, and the public in general. These attacks can take various forms, including the creation of fake websites that resemble the bank’s official site, sending phishing emails, phone calls, and SMS messages, and the use of deep fakes to manipulate audio or video content to make it appear as though it’s coming from the bank’s representatives.

In the past the ultimate goal of disinformation and impersonation attacks was to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card details, and other personal information, to commit financial fraud. Now, disinformation is being spread to manipulate markets and is partly to blame for the run on the banks in recent news from earlier in 2023. In doing so, the cybercriminals not only harm the bank’s customers but also erode brand awareness and reputation, leading to a loss of customer trust and loyalty and in the case of SVB, failure.

As a bank, it’s essential to be aware of the potential harm that disinformation and impersonation can cause. It’s crucial to recognize the common tactics used by cybercriminals in these types of attacks. For example, some cybercriminals will send emails that contain a link that leads to a fake website that appears identical to the bank’s site. They may also use social engineering techniques to persuade bank employees to provide sensitive information or gain access to the bank’s network.

To prevent and mitigate disinformation and impersonation attacks, banks need to have a comprehensive strategy in place. This strategy should include employee and customer education on the risks of these attacks, as well as the importance of following best practices, such as not sharing personal information with strangers.

Technology can also play a vital role in protecting against disinformation and impersonation attacks. For instance, banks can implement two-factor authentication for all login attempts and regularly update their software to patch known vulnerabilities. Additionally, banks can invest in machine learning and AI powered brand protection solutions that can detect and prevent phishing attempts, listen for disinformation being spread to nip it in the bud and identify potential and deep fakes.


Common Tactics Used by Cybercriminals in Disinformation and Impersonation Attacks

Disinformation and impersonation attacks can take many forms, and cybercriminals use a variety of tactics to execute them. Below are some common tactics used by cybercriminals to undermine the brand awareness and brand protection of banks:


  1. Spoofed emails: One of the most common tactics used by cybercriminals is to send spoofed emails that appear to come from the bank. These emails usually contain a call-to-action, such as clicking a link to update personal information, that will lead the victim to a fake website.


  1. Social media impersonation: Another tactic used by cybercriminals is to create fake social media accounts that impersonate the bank. They will then use these accounts to post fake news or send direct messages to customers. Tracer has seen a 35% increase in unauthorized brand uses across social media from 2022 to 2023. 


  1. Fake websites: Cybercriminals may also create fake websites that are designed to look like the bank’s official website. These fake sites can be used to steal personal information, such as login credentials.


  1. Phishing: While phishing attacks are not new, they remain one of the most effective tactics used by cybercriminals. They will send an email or text message that appears to come from the bank, asking the recipient to visit a fake website page to provide personal identifying information (PII).


How Disinformation and Impersonation Can Harm Your Bank’s Reputation

Disinformation and impersonation attacks can cause severe damage to your bank’s reputation, leading to a loss of trust from your customers. Disinformation attacks involve spreading false information about your bank through various channels, including social media, email, and even the news. Cybercriminals can spread rumors about your bank’s financial health, investment opportunities, or even sensitive customer data.

Impersonation attacks, on the other hand, involve cybercriminals impersonating your bank’s representatives or employees to gain access to customer accounts or sensitive information. This could be through a phone call, email, social media account, or fake website designed to look like your bank’s official site.

Both disinformation and impersonation attacks can lead to customer confusion, panic, and mistrust, especially if the information being spread or requested is sensitive. Customers may lose faith in your bank’s ability to keep their information safe and secure, which could lead to them switching to a different financial institution. 

Moreover, if disinformation or impersonation attacks gain significant media attention, it could result in reputational damage for your bank that could be difficult to overcome. Customers and investors alike could question the bank’s security measures and practices, which could impact your stock prices and financial stability.

Therefore, it’s critical to have a comprehensive strategy in place to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with disinformation and impersonation attacks. By doing so, you can protect your bank’s reputation, retain customer trust, and stay ahead of the game in the fight against cybercrime.


Strategies for Preventing and Mitigating Disinformation and Impersonation Attacks

As banks continue to face threats from disinformation and impersonation attacks, it’s crucial to develop effective strategies for preventing and mitigating these attacks. Here are some key strategies that banks can implement to protect their brand and reputation:


  1. Establish a Robust Brand Protection Strategy: Banks should take proactive steps to protect their brand and reputation by implementing measures to prevent disinformation and impersonation attacks. Brand protection providers use AI and computer vision to automatically monitor social media platforms, and domains and websites to quickly identify and remove fake accounts and fraudulent content, before they can cause harm. 


  1. Raise Brand Awareness: Banks should invest in building brand awareness and educating customers and employees on the risks of disinformation and impersonation attacks. This could involve providing regular training sessions and awareness campaigns on phishing attacks, social engineering tactics, and other related topics.


  1. Stay Vigilant and Be Prepared: Banks should stay vigilant and be prepared to respond quickly to any potential disinformation or impersonation attacks. This could involve implementing a rapid response plan, working closely with law enforcement agencies, and partnering with third-party security and brand protection providers to monitor online threats.


By implementing these strategies, banks can help prevent and mitigate disinformation and impersonation attacks, safeguarding their brand and reputation. Ultimately, strong brand protection measures and brand awareness campaigns can help banks build trust and credibility with their customers, which is essential for long-term success in the highly competitive financial services industry.


Leveraging Technology to Enhance Protection Against Disinformation and Impersonation Attacks

In the age of digital banking, technology is both a blessing and a curse. While technology enables banks to offer convenient services to customers, it also makes it easier for cybercriminals to perpetrate disinformation and impersonation attacks.

Fortunately, there are various technological tools available to help banks protect themselves against these attacks and preserve their brand protection.

One such tool is AI-powered phishing detection systems that can analyze vast amounts of data in real-time to identify and flag suspicious sites and social media posts. By detecting and stopping fraudulent activities early on, banks can prevent damage to their brand reputation and minimize financial losses.

Another important technology that can help banks stay ahead of the game is AI powered listening technology and services to listen to targeted social media sites and be aware of what type of possible misinformation is being spread and stop it in its tracks. This is often a collaborative effort between a brand protection partner and the banking entity.

Ultimately, banks need to stay on top of the latest technology developments in the fight against disinformation and impersonation attacks. By adopting innovative tools and strategies, they can enhance their brand protection and build customer trust and loyalty.


Best Practices for Responding to Disinformation and Impersonation Attacks

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it is not always possible to prevent disinformation and impersonation attacks from happening. So what do you do if your bank falls victim to an attack? Here are some best practices to help you respond effectively:


  1. Act fast: When you become aware of an attack, act quickly to contain the damage and prevent it from spreading. The longer the attack goes on, the more damage it can do.


  1. Contact law enforcement: Report the attack to law enforcement as soon as possible. They may be able to help track down the source of the attack and take legal action against the perpetrators.


  1. Inform your customers: Be transparent with your customers about the attack. Inform them of what has happened, how you are responding to the attack, and what they can do to protect themselves.


  1. Monitor social media: Keep a close eye on social media for any mentions of your bank and the attack. Respond quickly and proactively to any questions or concerns raised by your customers.


  1. Work with your PR team: Your PR team can help you manage the fallout from the attack. Work closely with them to develop a response plan that addresses the concerns of your customers and the public.


  1. Conduct a post-mortem: After the attack has been dealt with, take the time to analyze what happened and what can be done to prevent similar attacks in the future. Use this information to improve your  response protocols.


Disinformation and impersonation attacks are a serious threat to the banking industry. By staying vigilant and adopting best practices for prevention and response, you can protect your bank’s reputation and maintain the trust of your customers.

Protect Your Brand, Safeguard Your Reputation.


Tracer Team