Business Email Compromise – is your business protected?
One such threat is Business Email Compromise (BEC), a type of cybercrime that targets organizations and individuals with the aim of financial fraud or data theft. The FBI estimates that BEC has cost companies worldwide more than US$50 billion.
Understanding Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise, also known as CEO fraud or whaling, involves impersonating a high-level executive or trusted contact to deceive employees into transferring funds, sharing sensitive information, or taking actions that benefit the attacker. These attacks often rely on social engineering, exploiting psychological manipulation to trick victims into bypassing security protocols.
Common BEC techniques
- Email spoofing – attackers manipulate email headers or create fake domains to make emails appear legitimate, fooling recipients into thinking they are communicating with a trusted source.
- Spear phishing – BEC attackers craft personalized emails, often using information gleaned from social media or public sources, to target specific individuals within an organization.
- Vendor impersonation – cyber criminals pose as trusted vendors or service providers, tricking employees into making payments or revealing sensitive data.
- Executive impersonation – scammers pretend to be high-ranking executives or company officials, instructing employees to initiate financial transactions or share confidential information.
How to protect your business from BEC Attacks
There are a number of strategies you can employ in order to minimize your business risk. These include:
- Employee Education – train employees to recognize the signs of BEC attacks, including suspicious email addresses, urgent requests for money transfers, or unusual requests for sensitive information. Emphasize the importance of verifying requests through alternative means of communication.
- Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification steps beyond a simple password, making it harder for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
- Strengthen Email Security – deploy robust email security solutions that use advanced threat detection mechanisms to identify and block phishing attempts, spoofed emails, and suspicious attachments.
- Establish strict financial protocols – implement a dual-authorization process for financial transactions, where multiple employees must approve fund transfers or changes in banking information.
- Regularly update and patch software – keep all software and systems up to date with the latest security patches to minimize vulnerabilities that attackers may exploit.
- Use Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) – DMARC helps prevent email spoofing by providing email authentication and allowing you to specify how email servers should handle messages that fail authentication.
- Maintain a cyber security culture – foster a culture of security within your organization, encouraging employees to report suspicious emails, follow security protocols, and remain vigilant against potential threats.
BEC attacks continue to pose significant risks to organizations of all sizes. By understanding the tactics employed by cyber criminals and implementing robust security measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to BEC scams. Educating employees, implementing multifactor authentication, strengthening email security and maintaining strict financial protocols are crucial steps towards safeguarding your business from the devastating consequences of email compromise. Remember, prevention is always better than recovery when it comes to cyber threats – so stay informed, stay alert, and stay secure.
If you have any questions about your firm’s cyber security requirements, please contact Waystone Compliance Solutions.
Waystone Compliance Solutions is a leading provider of cyber security consulting and compliance services to the financial services industry. We have a deep understanding of the SEC’s cyber security requirements and can help you assess your current cyber security posture and develop a plan to comply with the proposed requirements.