Modern businesses live and die on their brand’s online presence, therefore brand protection should be the key focus for every business. There are many ways criminals that can destroy your brand, like posting counterfeit products, creating fake social pages, or stealing your company’s data from its network. In this article, How to protect your brand’s online presence, we’ll take a look at the many ways your company may be susceptible to attacks that affect brand reputation. Then we’ll get into how the clever use of proxies can help you with your brand protection. But first: what is a proxy?
What is a proxy?
A proxy is a special server that acts as a mediator for data transactions between your network and the internet. Usually, when you browse the internet, your computer communicates directly with the website you’re accessing. However, when connecting through a proxy, you tell the proxy what website you want to communicate with and, much like a broker or liaison, the proxy communicates with the website and gets you the information you want. The key part of this entire process is that the website you’re accessing only ever communicates with the proxy server so it has no idea it’s actually you who’s making the requests, this way ensuring your brand protection.
The role of proxies as an intermediary ensures privacy for your network’s computers by allowing you to hide behind the address of the proxy. Importantly, many proxies also have trained cybersecurity staff who can monitor your network for suspicious traffic and cut off potential attacks before they get anywhere near your data.
Protecting your business network
Phishing and social engineering attacks are a big deal, regardless of the size of your business. In 2018, cybercrimes targeted toward businesses were directly associated with more than 500 million US dollars in losses. 43% of those attacks are aimed at small businesses. But more damaging than the immediate effect on profit is the profound consequences that stolen identities and credit card details can have on your company. A coordinated attack on your servers could lead to hundreds or thousands of your users’ personal information getting leaked, absolutely destroying your business’ credibility.
Even the top guns are susceptible to network attacks. In November 2014, Sony Pictures was victim to a cyber-attack. The culprits took off with terabytes of data from the Sony network, including private e-mails and digital conversations held between employees. As a result, one of their most anticipated films, slated for release at the tail-end of 2014, was significantly delayed and ultimately saw a very limited release. By the Spring of 2015, every single hacked e-mail was publicly available on WikiLeaks.
Preventing data breaches with proxies
Of course, Sony Pictures is still going strong today, despite damages amounting to roughly 35-million US dollars. But not everybody can afford to take on the losses incurred by a data breach – most companies don’t have that kind of money to lose! Fortunately, you can reduce the odds of digital criminals getting their hands on your data through the use of proxies.
By running all of your network’s communications through a company proxy, you can monitor and restrict your employees’ internet use. Since all of your data must go through the proxy first, your network administrators can detect and identify suspicious traffic that might indicate a potential attack. Crucially, you can block access to addresses you suspect are being used for cyberattacks, closing off an avenue for digital criminals to launch their attacks.
If you don’t have the funds to hire on a dedicated cybersecurity team, don’t fret. Many professional proxy services also offer security services with specialized personnel trained to protect your traffic.
Review bombing and fake pages
Another way your brand protection can be challenged by others is through review bombing and counterfeiting.
Consider how easy it is to create a social media page for your business. Anyone could make their own page using your company’s name and if you’re not quick to identify and report them, you risk real customers confusing these fake pages for yours! At the very least you lose potential sales and marketing power. However, these fake pages tend to be poorly run, riddled with typos and unprofessional wording, and that’s not even mentioning the questionable quality of the counterfeit products they’re selling under your name!
Additionally, your brand’s reputation can be affected by spiteful, negative reviews left by users on review sites such as Yelp. On the internet, it’s easy for a person to get riled up by the stories of others, and many users are prepared to get their pitchforks out in support of an ill-justified idea or principle. When an angry user rallies other online commenter to join them in writing negative reviews of a company or product, this is known as review bombing. One person in a bad mood could lead to hundreds of negative reviews on your pages (often by people who have never interacted with your company or used its products!).
Managing reviews and curbing counterfeiting with proxies
Managing reviews and identifying fake accounts are important tasks for any business. Modern companies use a combination of proxies and automated software known as web scrapers to identify fake reviews and counterfeit accounts.
Web scrapers are automated software that you can program to collect specific data from websites, such as social media platforms. This means you can tell your web scrapers to look for negative reviews and social pages using your company’s name or selling counterfeit products. The web scrapers find any data that fits your criteria then stores it in a database or a server. From there, your staff can make the final decision as to whether or not a review is authentic or if you should report a social page.
Unfortunately, web scrapers are also a common tool used by digital criminals to conduct cyberattacks and steal data, so many websites are wary of anyone who uses them. If multiple scrapers are associated with a single location, they’ll be flagged and blocked from the service for suspicious activity. This is why it’s important to pair them with proxies that can make each scraper appear as if it’s connecting from a different place in the world.
Through the combined use of web scrapers and web proxies, you can quickly identify and put an end to counterfeit pages and fake, negative reviews that can hurt your business.
Nearly every business is dependent on its online presence to drive sales and market its products, so learning How to protect your brand’s online presence must be one of the key focuses for every company. Holes in your network’s security can lead to data breaches that can destroy your reputation. Additionally, review bombing and counterfeit products and social pages can create an unfairly negative and untruthful perception of your company to the public eye. With the clever use of proxies, you can quickly identify and put a stop to negative behaviour and cyberattacks that can damage your company’s online reputation.