By Dhiraj Gupta, CTO, co-founder, mFilterIt
In 2021 we will see many activities riding digital for the first time. At the same, consumers will also be hunting for many services and products online. Its an encouraging trend for the entire digital ecosystem as the contribution of digital, not just in advertising but several business functions increase. However, the issue is that many miscreants will try to skim the opportunity and siphon millions through many baits they will throw into the digital ocean.
One of the fundamental weaknesses in the digital ecosystem is that things can be easily replicated and due to very weak to absent legal framework, it is very difficult to effectively nab the culprits. We come across several email display name spoofing attacks in a day. Though there is greater awareness of this very common imposter, we see many people falling to the trap.
Taking this to a larger canvas, there are several techniques which imposters use to infringe the digital assets of companies. This ranges from creating fake social media handles to what we have started witnessing now, infringement of online stores, apps, and websites. Many people are economically distressed. Though things are returning to normal, people are still exploring other economic alternatives and digital becomes the easiest platform to explore and discover them.
Imposters are creating fake identities in the form of apps, e-commerce platforms as well as other websites in the name of very popular brands offering fake products, unreliable services, employment and even business partnerships. Since many things are working remotely and there is no physical verification possible by way of organising a meeting, or even visiting the office as these fraudsters could take an excuse of work from home due to covid-19, the transactions can be entirely steered virtually.
Some of the examples that we have captured for our clients recently include:
- A fake website with a similar name of the brand inviting for dealership against a one-time fee to sell its products in a particular region.
- A web page with job postings on behalf of a brand asking for a non-returnable token fee to become eligible for the recruitment process.
- A leading brand’s fake products available on all major e-commerce platforms.
This is just tip of the iceberg, and the issues we discover in real-time on daily basis go very deep which have all the power of pulling down the reputation of any brand, even one having a very strong image and presence. Brands, as well as their agencies, will have to increase the vigil in 2021 to look for imposters 24×7 who will disguise them and reach out to end-users to trap and defraud them taking away money on one or the other pretext. Brand infringement issues over digital do not simply remain intellectual property issues which can be settled in courts and remain only within the realm of B2B. Any infringement will directly involve end-users who will start responding to such messages and campaigns sheer on the reputation of the brand being exploited.
Under the present legal framework, a brand can rarely restrict sprouting of its fake images over digital platforms. But it can keep a strict vigil on the entire digital landscape to trace any such intrusion and take corrective measures. Even, for taking a legal redress, it would need substantiated proof.
At mFilterIt, we have been helping some of the leading brands in major sectors like FMCG, BFSI, education, travel and healthcare across geographies to monitor its brand reputation and image by reporting in real-time any infringement attempt with proofs and proper analysis. The situation is going to become even more challenging in 2021 with many brands shifting the entire spectrum of business functions over digital. Lastly, as the vaccination for covid-19 picks up, many bogus websites and apps could surface to take advantage in terms of capturing data as well as grabbing money from the end-users. In fact, it has already started to happen in some parts of the world, where fake and unauthorised websites and apps have surfaced claiming to offer vaccination details and other important information.
To assist all advertisers of the region (Middle East and Africa), I am pleased to share that we have decided to offer access to the entire mFilterIt suite for 90 days. Isn’t that amazing! Reach out to us to sign up today.