In today’s world, email has become a daily necessity, used for personal communication and professional purposes. However, as we rely more on digital technology, we become more vulnerable to cybercrime. Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a prevalent form of cyber attack that businesses need to be aware of to protect themselves.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a social engineering scam that tricks employees into transferring money to cybercriminals. ACSC reported that financial losses due to BEC increased to over $98 million (an average loss of $64,000 per report).
In this article, we’ll explore the alarming rise of BEC attacks. Moreover, we’ll understand how they work, and provide valuable insights on how to effectively combat them.
The Growing Menace of BEC Attacks:
BEC attacks witnessed an alarming 81% increase in 2022, making it crucial for businesses to pay attention to this imminent danger. Astonishingly, a staggering 98% of employees fail to report these threats, underlining the urgent need for awareness and preventive measures.
What is Business Email Compromise?
BEC is a type of cyber scam where criminals exploit email fraud to steal money. They often target business people involved in wire transfer payments. The scammers use different tricks like pretending to be high-ranking executives or trusted partners to send fake emails to trick employees, customers, or vendors into sending money. They can also use fake accounts to steal important information.
The impact of BEC attacks can be massive, costing businesses millions of dollars. Small businesses, in particular, are a more significant target because they may not have the security measures in place to detect these attacks. Apart from the direct financial loss, BEC attacks can ruin a company’s reputation and damage trust between the company and its customers or business partners.
The Financial Toll and Reputational Damage:
In Australia, the impact of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams has been significant and concerning. According to reports from reliable sources, such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), BEC scams have cost Australian businesses millions of dollars, highlighting the financial toll they inflict.
In 2021 alone, BEC attacks resulted in approximately $132 million in financial losses for Australian businesses. This staggering amount underscores the severity of the issue and the urgent need for preventive measures. These scams not only deplete funds but also have far-reaching consequences that can disrupt operations and hinder growth.
Moreover, the repercussions of BEC attacks extend beyond financial losses. They can have a detrimental impact on the reputations of businesses and individuals. A successful BEC scam not only erodes trust but also undermines the credibility that organisations have worked diligently to establish.
Decoding the Mechanics of BEC Attacks:
BEC attacks can be tough to spot, as they’re often elaborately planned. Attackers do thorough research on their target organizations and employees by scouring online platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and official company websites for information on customers, suppliers, operations, and partners. With this information, scammers create emails that look convincingly urgent and confidential, often appearing as if coming from high-ranking execs or trusted contacts. They’ll even create fake websites that look like the real thing to add credibility.
How to prevent and fight BEC attacks?
While preventing BEC attacks entirely may be challenging, businesses and individuals can adopt proactive measures to mitigate the risk of falling victim to such scams.
To prevent BEC attacks, companies must start by creating an awareness of this type of scam among their employees. Employees should be trained to recognise phishing emails, stop sending sensitive information through email. Also they should take additional steps to verify the authenticity of a request. Additionally, employees need to be familiar with common tactics employed by scammers. Such as urgent requests, social engineering techniques, and the presence of fake websites. Extra emphasis should be placed on email account security, including regular checks of the sent folder, strong and regularly updated passwords, secure password storage, and prompt reporting of suspicious emails to IT contacts.
Enable Email Authentication:
Email authentication protocols are crucial for organisations. They help verify the authenticity of sender’s email addresses and reduce the risk of email spoofing. Three essential protocols to implement include DMARC, SPF, and DKIM. Implementing these protocols also ensures that emails don’t get sent to the junk mail folder.
Use a Payment Verification Process:
Organisations should establish payment verification processes, such as two-factor authentication and confirmation from multiple parties, to ensure the legitimacy of wire transfer requests. Having multiple individuals verify financial payment requests provides an extra layer of protection.
Regularly Monitor Financial Transactions:
Implementing protocols like two-factor authentication and confirmation from multiple parties helps ensure the legitimacy of wire transfer requests. It is advisable to have more than one person involved in verifying any financial payment request, reducing the likelihood of falling victim to BEC scams.
Develop a Robust Response Plan:
Generally organisations should develop a comprehensive response plan to handle BEC incidents effectively. This plan should include clear procedures for reporting incidents, freezing transfers, and promptly notifying law enforcement agencies. By having a predefined response plan, businesses can minimise the damage caused by BEC attacks and expedite recovery processes.
Utilize Anti-Phishing Software:
Stay one step ahead of cybercriminals by using anti-phishing software. It’s like an armor that shields against fraudulent emails. These tools utilise advanced AI and machine learning technologies to effectively detect and block phishing scams. And best of all, they keep getting better over time!
In conclusion, BEC attacks are a significant threat to companies worldwide, and it is essential to take proactive steps to prevent and fight these attacks. Companies must create awareness among their employees of the tactics used by cybercriminals, implement multiple levels of authentication before transferring funds, have malware detection systems, use strong passwords, and have a response plan in place.
In summary, if companies stay vigilant and keep updating their security measures, they will be better equipped to fight and prevent BEC attacks. So, if you’re a business owner, manager, or CEO, you must stay informed about the latest developments in cyber threats and stay one step ahead of the attackers.
With cybercrime on the rise, it’s crucial to keep your business emails secure. Money can disappear in seconds and it’s impossible to recover. Don’t take any risks. Contact us today to learn more about our email security solutions and how we can help keep your business protected.