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Rebranding Can be Costly to your Company's Cyberseurity

Tue, 04 Jun 2019

You've decided to change your company's identity. Give it a new look, maybe even a new name. The old image was tired, and your URL made you cringe, just a little. You've decided to rebrand. Changing the corporate image of an organization can be a great market strategy, making your brand pop from that of its competitors. Essentially, you’re giving your business a facelift, and therefore, it presents an excellent publicity opportunity to gain exposure for your refreshed brand. However, rebranding can also make your company a target for cyber incidents and attacks - here’s how. 

Rebranding Can be Costly to your Company's CyberseuritySlow Your Roll

Before a company ever gets to roll out its sharp, new image, comes research and reporting and then design. Both of these stages dangle a valuable prize in front of hackers' screens for different reasons. 

Research and Reporting 

Proper rebranding requires the collection of research on your company from top to bottom including brand assets, sales and revenue figures, service or product information and inventories, current consumer profiles, target consumer profiles, competitors, competitor products and branding, and the opinions of lost prospects concerning your old brand.

That's a lot of valuable data being collected, offering an overview of not only your company but of the industry to which the company belongs. Hackers can sell the data to competitors, or on the black market, depending on what types of specific information they obtain. In January of 2019 alone, 1,769,185,063 records were leaked.[i] Hacking for data records is like panning during the gold rush, not every pan or hack finds gold – but when that gold or data appears, it’s lucrative.

The other alternative, a growing trend, is that hackers use the gathered information to create very believable and specific phishing and whaling campaigns to go after passwords and financials for an even more significant promised payday. Phishing campaigns are responsible for approximately 91 percent of cyber attacks, with malware delivered by email 91 percent of the time.[ii]

David Ellis, VP Investigations, Security Metrics warns that “Hackers are willing to do their homework and go after a specific organization because they know the added work will make the payday larger. We are seeing that attackers will perform social engineering attacks and study everything they can about a business so they can craft legitimate-looking emails–with the hope of landing a bigger payday in the end.”[iii] 

Concept and Design

Countless hours and numerous dollars are spent getting your company’s rebrand just right. From logo and messaging to online presence and endorsements, a great deal of thought goes into what your brand will say to the public. All of these creative concepts mean there is a lot of intellectual property being gathered and stored. Intellectual property includes, in general terms, creations of the mind and can be any form of business, scientific, technical, customer, financial or engineering information that is privately-owned, exclusive or trademarked. These include inventions, artistic works and symbols, and additionally, names and images used in business. 

Intellectual property is valuable. Underhanded competitors looking for an advantage will pay for a preview of what their competition is doing and when. It helps inform their own planning, marketing campaign and forecasting so they can diminish your company’s impact when it launches its rebrand. The risk of intellectual property theft is growing, just look at the hacks into media corporations as proof (Netflix Orange is the New Black 2017 hack, for example). 

While cyber attacks that target credit card and financial data, personally identifiable and biometric information and consumer health information still amass the most media attention, intellectual property theft is materializing as another risk worrying corporate decision makers. A report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce states “publicly traded U.S. companies own an estimated $5 trillion worth of trade secrets.” Intellectual property is a subset of trade secrets.

Many corporations don’t understand the value of their intellectual property and how much of their overall value stems from it. The two forms of intellectual property most frequently targeted in cyber attacks are copyrighted materials and trade secrets, hackers will go after whatever is valuable to an organization to sell it to a competitor or capitalize on the extortion potential. For a company rebranding, obtaining their new image and logo; commercial, online and ad campaign materials; and new product lines prior to the launch; or locking those assets with ransomware right before the launch, could prove highly lucrative.

For the company, not only are there financial losses concerning possible extortion payments, cyber forensic and data restoration charges, public relations and IT expenses, there are a plethora of less quantifiable damages, such as:

·         Loss of market advantage and rebrand efforts 

·         Missed business and revenue opportunities

·         Loss of brand loyalty

·         Loss of employee morale (rebranding is a lot of creative energy and time for it all to be lost)

Other cybersecurity considerations during this stage are that often contractors are brought in to assist with developing the rebrand and all of the resources that coincide (websites, commercials, etc.). Ensuring that a contractor's system access is limited and that they are employing proper cyber hygiene techniques while on your network is vital to your cybersecurity. Also, as rebrand design and launch information are being passed to shareholders, ensure that secure communication measures are utilized and appropriate passwords and encryption are in place.

Now Your Company’s Rolling

Between internal relations campaigns featuring videos and emails announcing the branding changes, external public relations campaigns with media promotion, client emails and social media blasts, a lot of information is flitting about the cyber-universe. This publicity onslaught and e-campaigning increase your company's vulnerability to cyber attacks. The more a company is on the public radar, the more it is also on the hacker’s radar. Hackers follow the money with 76 percent of cyber attacks being motivated by financial gain.[iv] Rebranding usually means increases in revenue, making rebranded companies more appealing to hackers. 

Rebranding is an expensive and large-scale endeavour. You don’t want to lose that investment to a cyber-criminal. The global average cost of a data breach is $3.6 million — and it keeps increasing every year.[v] That figure only escalates when combined with the potential losses incurred from the intellectual property and rebrand investment. Rebranding can be exciting and consuming, don’t lose sight of your company’s cybersecurity. Before you start investing in rebranding plans, ensure your company’s cybersecurity incident response plan is in place and updated, and that you’ve assessed your network vulnerabilities. Be prepared. Defend your brand.


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