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17Jul

Business Email Compromise Jumped 81% Last Year! Learn How to Fight It

In recent years, email has become an essential part of our daily lives. Many people use it for various purposes, including business transactions. With the increasing dependence on digital technology, cybercrime has grown. A significant cyber threat facing businesses today is Business Email Compromise (BEC).

Why is it important to pay particular attention to BEC attacks? Because they’ve been on the rise. BEC attacks jumped 81% in 2022, and as many as 98% of employees fail to report the threat.

 

What is Business Email Compromise (BEC)?

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of scam in which criminals use email fraud to target victims. These victims include both businesses and individuals. They especially target those who perform wire transfer payments.

The scammer pretends to be a high-level executive or business partner and will send emails to employees, customers, or vendors. These emails request them to make payments or transfer funds in some form.

According to the FBI, BEC scams cost businesses around $1.8 billion in 2020. That figure increased to $2.4 billion in 2021. These scams can cause severe financial damage to businesses and can also harm their reputations.

 

How Does BEC Work?

BEC attacks are usually well-crafted and sophisticated, making it difficult to identify them. The attacker first researches the target organization and its employees. They gain knowledge about the company’s operations, suppliers, customers, and business partners.

Much of this information is freely available online. Scammers can find it on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and organizations’ websites. Once the attacker has enough information, they can craft a convincing email. It’s designed to appear to come from a high-level executive or a business partner.

The email will request the recipient to make a payment or transfer funds. It usually emphasizes the request being for an urgent and confidential matter. For example, a new business opportunity, a vendor payment, or a foreign tax payment.

The email will often contain a sense of urgency, compelling the recipient to act quickly. The attacker may also use social engineering tactics. Such as posing as a trusted contact or creating a fake website that mimics the company’s site. These tactics make the email seem more legitimate.

If the recipient falls for the scam and makes the payment, the attacker will make off with the funds. In their wake, they leave the victim with financial losses.

 

How to Fight Business Email Compromise

BEC scams can be challenging to prevent, but there are measures businesses and individuals can take to cut the risk of falling victim to them.

 

Educate Employees

Organizations should educate their employees about the risks of BEC, along with how to identify and avoid these scams. This includes employees recognizing tactics used by scammers such as: urgent requests, social engineering, and fake websites.

Training should also include email account security, including:

  • Checking their sent folder regularly for any strange messages
  • Using a strong email password with at least 12 characters
  • Changing their email password regularly
  • Storing their email password in a secure manner
  • Notifying an IT contact if they suspect a phishing email

Contact Databranch today if your company lacks on-going cybersecurity training. Our Breach Prevention Platform and Security Awareness Training will give your employees the resources they need to spot real world phishing attempts.

 

Enable Email Authentication

Organizations should implement email authentication protocols.

This includes:

  • Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC)
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)

These protocols help verify the authenticity of the sender’s email address and can also reduce the risk of email spoofing. Another benefit is to keep your emails from ending up in junk mail folders.

 

Deploy a Payment Verification Process

Organizations should deploy a payment verification processes, such as two-factor authentication. Another protocol is confirmation from multiple parties when making a business related payment. This ensures that all wire transfer requests are legitimate. It’s always better to have more than one person verify a financial payment request.

 

Establish a Response Plan

Organizations should establish a response plan for BEC incidents. This includes procedures for reporting the incident as well as freezing the transfer and notifying law enforcement. 

 

Use Anti-phishing Software

Businesses and individuals can use anti-phishing software to detect and block fraudulent emails. As AI and machine learning gain widespread use, these tools become more effective.

The use of AI in phishing technology continues to increase. Businesses must be vigilant and take steps to protect themselves.

Here at Databranch, our managed clients have the comfort of knowing that their systems are monitored and maintained on a 24/7 basis. Our tool-stack not only increases your protection from malware and phishing, but is also capable of detecting a breach in you network and isolating that device.

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

BEC can occur when a hacker gains access to your email’s login credentials. However, here are many valuable tools you can use to fend off these bad actors even after they have stolen your credentials.

According to a study cited by Microsoft, MFA is proven to prevent approximately 99.9% of fraudulent sign-in attempts.

This is because MFA adds a layer of cybersecurity protection by confirming the authenticity of users who are logging in to various platforms. This is completed by entering a code from your mobile device into the application you are trying to log into, or by approving a prompt that is sent to your mobile device. 

This means that unless the hacker also has your mobile device, they will not be able to approve the login attempt.

Reach out to Databranch today if your interested in setting MFA up for your business accounts.

 

Need Help with Email Security Solutions?

It only takes a moment for money to leave your account and be unrecoverable. Don’t leave your business emails unprotected. Get in touch today at 716-373-4467 x115 or [email protected] to discuss our email security solutions.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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