Cybersecurity and PDPA
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2022-09-05 09:45:00

The digital marketing cyber threats you should know

Fake social media accounts impersonating your brands and email phishing are some of the new-fangled digital marketing cyber threats you may face. Here’s what you need to know about them.

By Sng Ler Jun

Cyberattacks have evolved over the years. With social media and many other new technological creations entering the fray, these attacks have become nothing but increasingly common. Covid-19 has accelerated our adoption of many of these tech services in our lives, from using social media to engage the youths to improving one’s content management system to cope with the increased web traffic.

You’d be surprised that in digital marketing, there are several cyber threats that have surfaced recently, and they put marketers, such as social media managers, content strategists and the likes, as a particularly vulnerable bunch. Read on to discover some of the most prevalent digital marketing cybersecurity concerns you should know.

Social Media Frauds & Other Cyberthreats

It is no brainer that organisations use social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest etc.) to better reach out to and connect with communities or their target audiences. This very visibility that social media provide have helped establish credibility between consumers and brands. In Singapore, the average daily time spent on social media is 2 hours 31 minutes, while over 70% of businesses on the sunny island adopt social media to promote their goods and services.

And yet, with the rise of social media adoption came the rise of social media cyber threats.  

Brand impersonation: One of the most common cyber threats is digital impersonation. After collecting enough data, an attacker may create a fake social media account to trick customers into thinking they receive requests and updates from an authentic brand. Often, attackers may solicit personal information, such as email addresses, contact details and even bank details.

Spreading malware, ransomware, and viruses: Attackers who are impersonating your brand may add a link to a seemingly bona fide website on their bio. When unsuspecting users click on these websites or domains that claim to be legitimate businesses, they may be tricked into downloading malware, ransomwares, or viruses.

Social media phishing: As brands look to social media to create campaigns to drive following and brand awareness, attackers may adopt the same strategy to trick … digital marketers. That’s right, digital marketers may be susceptible to signing up for dubious campaigns, thinking that these campaigns can help them bolster their work or engagements. As a result, digital marketers, alongside countless other audiences, may give up their particulars which be used to spoof other unsuspecting parties.  

Ways to prevent social media threats

  1. Avoid using social media sites on public WiFi hotspots, where attackers lurk and conduct man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.
  2. Change your social media passwords every quarter/ three months.
  3. Activate two-factor authentication on your social media, whenever possible.
  4. Urge employees to never share their personal particulars on social media.
  5. Educate employees on some tactics attackers use, such as fear and urgency, on social media to solicit information.

Phishing and Email Marketing

Companies may adopt email marketing campaigns to inform subscribers about the latest news, updates and promotions. Handy as emails are, bad actors have used them to steal data and attack other Internet users. According to a speech by Minister of State of Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament in early February this year, the number of phishing scams skyrocketed from 16 cases in 2017 to 5,020 in 2021. Meanwhile, more than $70 million were lost this year to email scammers impersonating business partners and employees, says the Singapore Police Force in May this year.  

According to the police, the emails involved would often inform the victims of a change in their companies’ bank account numbers and ask them to transfer payments to another bank account.

Ways to prevent phishing and cyber threats related to email marketing

  1. Educate employees about signs of email phishing; most spoofed email addresses feature spelling errors and bad grammar that may not be obvious at first glance.
  2. Some emails have suspicious attachments, do not open or download them.
  3. Some emails ask recipients to submit login credentials, payment information or sensitive data.
  4. The use of threatening language may surface within these emails. Bad actors may be looking to instil fear in unsuspecting victims.
  5. If you think you have fallen prey to phishing, change your password immediately before running a full system scan on your anti-virus software.
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