New research has cast a spotlight on the role of brands in protecting their customers from cyber attacks. And with peak holiday shopping season around the corner, brands may want to take note of the findings.

In a survey conducted by Mimecast, 75% of consumers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and 78% of consumers in the UAE, said they’d stop spending money with their favourite brand if they fell victim to a phishing attack involving that brand. Compared to a global average of 57%, this places the region’s consumers among the most unforgiving of all markets surveyed.

Consider that research conducted earlier in 2020 revealed that 36% of organisations in the region saw an increase in brand impersonation via counterfeit websites, and 40% saw a rise in malicious email spoofing, and brands face a real challenge with protecting their customers.

And protect them they must. More than 80% of consumers in the region (83% in UAE, 82% in KSA) believe it is the brand’s responsibility to protect itself from email impersonation. A similar percentage said it is the brand’s responsibility to protect itself from fake versions of its website.

The reasons are evident in the data. Eighty-two percent of consumers in the UAE – and 71% of consumers in KSA – have received phishing emails in their inbox. Two-thirds of consumers in KSA and more than three-quarters of consumers in the UAE have also been directed to a spoofed website following a web search.

In light of the continued shift to online shopping and digital interactions between brands and their customers, the financial imperatives of providing adequate protection for customers online are clear.

Ahead of peak shopping days like White Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as the rest of the holiday season, organisations will need to go to greater lengths to protect their brands from cybercriminals who imitate their websites and emails and launch phishing attacks on their customers.

Implementing effective controls, such as brand exploit protection services and DMARC, can limit opportunities for criminals to imitate beloved brands and dupe their customers. Data from Mimecast’s State of Email Security 2021 report found that seven out of ten organisations in the UAE had already deployed a brand protection service, with a further 27% indicating near-term plans to do so.

And while only 23% already make use of DMARC, a technology that helps prevent brands’ email domains being hijacked by threat actors, 62% said they are either in the process of implementing it or have plans to do so in the next twelve months.

Creating greater cyber awareness can also help protect customers. Encouraging customers to take steps such as checking URLs within the emails they receive, checking spelling, and researching the sender online can help weed out potentially risky emails.

Musa Suleiman
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