Whether it is data privacy and security issues, environmental concerns, or supporting equal rights, today’s users are more concerned than ever with using brands that share their values and prioritize ethical practices. As a result, having a positive brand image is key to a successful business. However, all the work you put into building a strong brand reputation can be destroyed by cyberattacks that threaten your availability, deface your site with spam, or leak sensitive customer data.
Choosing the right cybersecurity products can help to prevent these attacks and ensure that your brand is associated with high performance, great content, and a secure user experience. This blog post will provide a background on how brand image impacts your bottom line, how cyberattacks threaten your brand image, and how to prevent brand-damaging cyberattacks with a modern approach to cybersecurity.
Negative Consequences of Brand Damage
It’s no secret that companies with a positive brand image tend to outperform those who have suffered reputation damage or are mired in scandal. Brands with a good reputation tend to maintain high stock prices through consumer confidence, maintain more customer loyalty, gain a better win rate on competitive bids and proposals, and can charge a premium on their services since they are associated with more value. In fact, a 2018 study by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board demonstrated a direct link between brand preference and market share across 120 brands and 12 categories. The same year, Marketwatch reported that customers “were willing to pay 22% more – or an extra $147 – if that company was also thought to have a better corporate reputation.”
Simply put, a good brand reputation is worth its weight in gold. Without strong cybersecurity, businesses risk losing their good name and the financial benefits that come with it.
How Cyberattacks Damage Your Brand
Spam, Bad Bots, and Abusive Users
Applications and sites that are rife with spam comments and social media bots can affect your trust and authority and show a lack of maintenance and care for your site, sending a message to users that your brand does not care about their user experience. Furthermore, divisive or combative comments from abusive users and bad bots can sow chaos on your platform, damaging its reputation by associating your brand with negativity and poor values. This is particularly damaging today, as users become more socially conscious consumers and are increasingly likely to support brands that promote positive change in the world. In addition, some spam comments and social media bots may promote pornography can be an even more damaging experience for users, who will likely view your site as unsafe to visit in the future.
Site Outages and Degraded Performance
Over the past year, DDoS and ransomware attacks have not only grown more frequent, but more damaging to companies, multiplying their capacity to damage businesses’ reputations. Both attacks–which are increasingly used in tandem with each other–are designed to disrupt business continuity. While ransomware does this by encrypting their victims’ data to render it unusable, DDoS attacks degrade performance and threaten sites’ availability by overwhelming victims with botnet traffic. As reported by RIS News, the fallout from these kinds of disruptions can be significant, especially during periods of high traffic, such as Cyber Monday, where “an average of $3.4 million is what reputation and brand damage can cost as a result of the loss of customers in just one hour of downtime.”
In addition, in a digital landscape where speed is increasingly important to customers, the degraded performance that can result from insufficient bandwidth or compute power can also impact brand loyalty. According to Cisco’s 2021 App Attention Index, “83% of people report having encountered problems with applications and digital services in the past 12 months and most are now far more likely to take action when they do. That includes switching to an alternative service, sharing their negative experiences with other people, or deleting the digital service permanently.”
Possibly one of the most reputation-damaging events that a company can endure, data leaks can cause customers to second-guess whether they want to continue doing business with you, leading to a higher customer churn rate. As the IT Chronicles explained in a 2020 article, “Companies that don’t have a reliable customer base have to spend more valuable time and resources on attracting new customers to compensate for the ones they lost. With the bad press and broken trust due to a data breach, this can be even more challenging.”
Naturally, this has a massive financial impact on any company experiencing a breach. In fact, IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report found that the average total cost of a data breach is $4.24 million, the highest it has been in the 17-year history of the report. Although this total average cost included items unrelated to brand image, such as detection, security response, and notification, lost business represented the largest cost to business, composing 38% of the total average, or $1.59 million.
Web Application Attacks
As web applications become more complex, the attack surface grows, resulting in greater need for strong web application security. The OWASP Top Ten provides a list of the top vulnerabilities in web applications, including injection attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS), which poses an especially serious risk to companies’ image. These attacks are caused by injection flaws, which OWASP defines as “a vulnerability which allows an attacker to relay malicious code through an application to another system.”
This type of web application attack lets malicious users execute their own scripts in their victims’ browsers, which can not serve users with inappropriate content, but compromise users’ sensitive data, since attackers may inject scripts like phony sign-in pages or other phishing prompts that trick users into exposing their passwords, payment information, and other sensitive data. Not only is this certain to impact brand loyalty by frustrating current users, it may result in diminished brand awareness for future users by reducing a site’s prevalence within search engines, as Google has warned that “low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s ranking.”
How to Prevent Brand-Damaging Cyberattacks
Although the effects of reputation damage can be chilling, you can prevent many data leaks, outages, and other harmful events with the right cybersecurity products and techniques.
Terminate Abusive Users With Network Lists
Often a single malicious user can create multiple accounts to spam comment boards, multiplying the problem for site owners. If several spam profiles on your site are coming from the same IP address, adding it to a permanent block list can keep phony accounts from proliferating on your site. In addition, choosing a security product that lets you automatically block or monitor users who access your site through anonymous networks like Tor or geolocations that are rife with phony accounts will ensure that high-risk users can be kept from wreaking havoc on a website.
Keep Your Site Available With DDoS Mitigation
Caching content at geographically distributed locations can provide built-in protection against DDoS by delivering content from the edge of the network, which prevents requests from reaching origin servers and taking your site offline. In addition, software-defined platforms can further prevent outages and degraded performance by scaling automatically to accommodate increased usage.
However, with DDoS attacks becoming more frequent, larger, and more damaging than ever, every business with an online presence should consider purchasing a DDoS mitigation plan. Specialized plans can provide protection against larger attacks by redirecting botnet traffic to scrubbing centers, reducing traffic spikes and their associated costs. Be sure to choose a DDoS mitigation partner that has a fast response time, high published SLA, deep visibility into attacks, and high network capacity.
Protect Against Injection Attacks and Data Leaks with a WAF
Web Application Firewalls, or WAFs, are an indispensable part of cybersecurity today, providing the best protection against cross-site scripting and other injection attacks. However, not all WAFs are created equal. WAFs that detect and block attacks based on known attack signature use more resources, add more latency, and do not protect against zero-day attacks, making them less effective and performant than WAFs that use algorithmically determined rule sets and can be programmed to meet your site’s specific needs.
Mitigate Bad Bots with an Advanced Bot Manager
The increased sophistication of today’s bots is making it harder and harder for security solutions to detect them, making it difficult and time consuming to keep bad bots off of sites without inadvertently eliminating legitimate users. And while disabling comment sections may prevent spam, it makes your site less interactive for users and can reduce its position in search engines. By deploying an advanced bot mitigation solution that is capable of analyzing visitors’ intent, you can gain more precise detection of bad bots, allowing you to purge malicious users as quickly as possible.
Benefits of Azion’s Edge Platform for Security
Ultimately, today’s customers want to support brands that keep their sensitive data secure and maintain a strong user experience. This not only means protecting against spam, OWASP threats, and attacks like DDoS and ransomware, but ensuring that security does not negatively impact the performance of their applications. Azion provides businesses with performant security solutions that leverage the power of edge computing to protect users at the edge of the network, enabling high performance and localized compliance.
Azion’s Edge Platform makes it easy for companies to strengthen their security and improve their brand image through:
- Built-in DDoS protection (up to 5Gbps included), with 20, 50, and Unlimited plans available and 100% availability, backed by SLA
- Rules-based WAF that provides more performant, up-to-date, and robust protection than WAFs that use signature-based detection methods
- Network Layer Protection, which lets you easily create block or watch lists based on networks (ASN), IP/CIDR, country or automatically updated lists, which include Tor networks
- Integration with Radware Bot Manager for advanced protection against bad bots
In addition, all Azion users gain real-time monitoring capabilities through Real-Time Metrics and Edge Pulse, enabling businesses to gain both a high-level and granular view of user behavior for transparency and troubleshooting. To see what Azion can do for your business, contact our Sales team, or create a free account to start using Edge Firewall today.