Brandjacking: Online brand abuse soars

Online brand abuse rose across major industries in 2009 according to the MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index. The report reveals the total number of phishing attacks was at an all-time high, with attacks targeting social network sites increasing to represent two percent of all phish attacks in 2009. The report spotlights the techniques and scams used by fraudsters and cybercriminals to monetize Web traffic using well-known brands as the lure.

Brand abuse increased across all industry categories measured by the Index with the automotive and media industries drawing the most abuse. Abuse targeting luxury brands demonstrated the greatest increase, growing 23 percent year-over-year, followed by abuse targeting apparel brands which grew 14 percent year-over-year. For the third straight year cybersquatting, the method of using brands in bad faith within the domain name system, continued to be the most prevalent form of brand abuse.

In addition, phish attacks reached a new record high with 565,502 attacks in 2009, growing 62 percent over 2008’s total.

The Brandjacking Index measures the effect of online threats to brands quarter-over-quarter throughout 2009. The Brandjacking Index investigates trends, including drilled-down analysis of how the most popular brands are abused online and the industries in which abuse is causing the most damage. The report examines how brandjacking tactics – such as cybersquatting, false association, pay per click scams, offensive content, and phishing – have changed over the past year.

Brandjackers cast a wide net

  • The luxury industry saw the greatest increase of brand abuse, growing 23 percent year over year.
  • Media and automotive brands attract the greatest amount of brand abuse by volume.
  • Brand abuse targeting the apparel industry grew 14 percent year-over-year.
  • Brand abuse involving an e-commerce component increased by 39 percent in the, consumer packaged goods industry and by 60 percent in the luxury industry.

Cybersquatting on the rise

  • Cybersquatting continues as the most prevalent brand abuse technique, growing eight percent from 2008.
  • Online advertising abuses are more targeted and harder to identify.
  • Fraudsters are coordinating the use of multiple methods to conduct brand abuse.

United States leads in hosting brandjacking web sites

  • While brand abuse is prevalent throughout the world, for the third straight year the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom are home to the majority of brandjacking web sites.
  • 69 percent of web sites that host brand abuse are hosted in the United States. Germany hosts seven percent followed by the United Kingdom at five percent.

Phish attacks at all-time high

  • The number of organizations phished for the first time decreased, with only 33 percent of 2009’s total being first-time targets. However, the number of phish attacks reached an all-time high, with 598 phish attacks per organization, indicating fraudsters are being more targeted with their attacks.
  • Phish attacks reached a new record high with 565,502 attacks in 2009, increasing 62 percent from 2008.
  • Phishing attacks targeting payment services brands grew 154 percent in 2009, increasing to 37 percent of the total by industry in 2009 from 24 percent in 2008.
  • Attacks targeting financial brands grew 36 percent in 2009, but declined to 40 percent of the total by industry in 2009 from 48 percent in 2008.
  • 2009 phish attacks targeting social network brands numbered 11,240, growing 376 percent from 2008.
  • Phish attacks targeting social network brands represented two percent of all phish attacks in 2009.
  • The U.S. retained the top position for hosting the largest amount of phishing attacks, increasing its share of phish to 44.7 percent in 2009 from 36.5 percent in 2008.
  • Canada, Germany and Korea increased in position from 2008 to 2009. North America held the top spot, increasing to 51.2 percent in 2009 from 40.3 percent in 2008.



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