For years, companies have been using online data to protect their organizations against cyber compromise. But can online data be used to support other enterprise functions—like brand reputation management and executive protection?
The short answer is yes. News, social media, the dark web, and other public online data sources host a variety of risk indicators—from damaging pre-viral content to physical violence planning. Without easy access to this information, organizations are more likely to overlook risks, causing lasting reputation damage and harm to executives and other assets.
With the right web monitoring tools, enterprises can make faster, more informed decisions in response to risks impacting brand reputation and executive safety.
Web monitoring has become more important for executive and brand protection since early 2020. According to a survey by Infinite Global, almost half of non-executive directors significantly increased their reputation management efforts since the onset of COVID-19. Other evolving risk factors, like disease transmission, cyber compromise, and social unrest means that executive protection teams also need to reconsider their information-sourcing strategy in the post-pandemic world.
What is web monitoring, and how do effective web monitoring tools support brand and executive protection?
The term web monitoring refers to the aggregation and analysis of publicly available web content. This content is used by organizations to inform security response, risk management, or business and marketing strategies.
The timeliness and breadth of online information help security and brand management teams avoid information gaps and respond in real-time or near real-time to risk. A 2021 Forrester survey found that 82% of enterprise risk professionals believe real-time information is more crucial than ever. Web monitoring enables organizations to access accurate risk information that may be unavailable or slower on other sources.
Web monitoring is a broad term that covers all content types and uses. Other common terms under the umbrella of web monitoring include:
What does web monitoring look like for executive and brand protection teams? For some applications, web monitoring often means directly accessing raw content, like a social media post in its original form. Raw data analysis is valuable for threat detection and investigations.
For example, the content of an individual post may be crucial for detecting and responding to an immediate risk like a bomb threat on an executive’s travel route and supporting a follow-up investigation.
But some brand reputation functions, like marketing, don’t need to interact directly with raw content. For them, web monitoring means accessing key trends and insights generated from a large set of incoming data. This could mean, for example, public sentiment towards a new product, or post volumes over time mentioning the product.
According to Forrester, 81% of risk management leaders lack the technologies required for confident early risk detection. This is where web monitoring software can help.
The internet contains a vast amount of publicly available information—but only a small portion is valuable for brand management and executive protection. Unlike standard search engines, web monitoring software enables organizations to cover a wider range of online sources and separate data that is highly relevant to their requirements in real-time. This speed-to-information is necessary for early risk detection and proactive response.
Web monitoring software also goes beyond free search engines (like Google) to help users find unindexed content, like social media posts and dark websites. Aggregating content from a variety of sources in one solution gives enterprise teams faster access to relevant information. These tools also leverage advanced search features and AI to expedite analysis and extract key insights.
Not all web monitoring software is the same, and any effective web monitoring strategy comes down to the tools used. For executive protection and brand reputation management, software solutions should:
Web monitoring software vendors vary in their stance on data privacy and compliance. Vendors without an ethical and compliant approach to data collection have caused major public scandals and (often permanent) service disruptions. By using a compliance-focused vendor, organizations can reap the benefits of web monitoring software while respecting the public’s privacy rights, ensuring reliable service, and protecting their own customer data.
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A 2020 survey on the state of corporate reputation found that global executives credit 63% of their company’s market value to its reputation. As more businesses and consumers embrace digital transformation, online spaces provide valuable data for guiding brand management decisions and detecting brand reputation risks before they escalate. When we talk about using online data for brand protection, what does this actually look like?
An effective web monitoring strategy can scan a wide range of sources for these risks so brands can quickly find and address misleading content, brand impersonation, and counterfeits affecting their brand.
Executive threats come from all directions: from unforeseen physical risks to doxxing and negative press. Public online content is often the earliest and most accurate source of executive threat data. And alongside traditional executive protection tools—like bodyguards and security cams—web monitoring is crucial for surfacing this information and reducing blind spots.
Web monitoring supports executive protection teams by:
In 2019, a GBTA survey revealed that 46% of UK and US business travelers work for companies that lack transparent travel security policies. Organizations that still fall into this category are more likely to risk executive safety as travel resumes in an even more complex and unpredictable threat landscape.
Effective web monitoring gives travel risk management teams more timely, accurate data, helping organizations stay ahead of COVID-era travel risks. Web monitoring applications for travel risk management include addressing:
Genetic’s 2021 EMEA Physical Security Report found that cybersecurity is a top priority in 2021 for almost 7 out of 10 physical security teams. Since the pandemic’s onset, cybercriminals have exploited public fear and domestic workforces to capitalize on social engineering strategies and vulnerable systems.
Increased cyber risks are likely to persist even as the world returns to a “new normal.” Brand management functions need to stay vigilant in the event of a data breach, which can create costly long-term reputation damage. Executive protection teams must also consider increased cybersecurity risks to executives, who often carry the highest payoff for attackers.
A web monitoring strategy that covers fringe social networks and forums, paste sites, and dark web marketplaces helps executive and brand management teams:
Between the COVID-19 pandemic, digital transformation, and evolving physical security threats, brand and executive protection teams are radically shifting their approaches to information gathering. Public online content is valuable for illuminating risks early on, and web monitoring has become integral to effective risk management.
The trouble is that web monitoring tools don’t always address the overlapping range of risk management applications discussed in this article. Executive protection and brand management teams can easily find a web monitoring solution to support marketing strategies, or crisis response, or digital risk protection—but not one to bridge the gaps between these use cases.
Echosec Systems has addressed requirements for both brand and executive protection teams by creating a Platform that covers the intersection of digital, physical, and brand security. This is accomplished through a combination of wide data coverage, location-based searching, and usability.
According to Forrester, almost 4 in 5 risk decision-makers have plans to invest in more risk management solutions. Web monitoring software is an obvious investment for any brand and executive protection teams as easy online data access becomes necessary for timely risk detection and response.
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