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The Costly Truth: The Rising Threat of Business Email Compromise (BEC)

In recent years, electronic correspondence (email) has become an indispensable component of our everyday life. Many people utilise it for a variety of reasons, including business transactions. Cybercrime has increased as people rely more on digital technologies. Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a significant security danger that businesses face today.

Why is it critical to pay close attention to BEC attacks? Because they have been on the rise. BEC attacks increased 81% in 2022, with up to 98% of employees failing to report the threat.


What is Business Email Compromise (BEC)?

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a scam in which thieves employ email fraud to target their victims. These victims include both individuals and corporations. They specifically target those who make wire transfer payments.

The scammer appears to be a high-level executive or business associate. Scammers send emails to employees, clients, and vendors. These emails request that they make payments or send money in some form.

According to the sources, BEC schemes will cost organisations approximately £1.4 billion in 2020. By 2021, that figure had risen to £1.9 billion. These frauds can cause significant financial loss to businesses and individuals. They may also damage their reputations.


How Does BEC Work?

BEC assaults are typically well-crafted and complex, making them difficult to detect. The attacker initially does research about the target firm and its workers. They learn more about the company’s operations, suppliers, customers, and business partners.

A lot of this material is freely available online. Scammers can locate it on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and organisational websites. Once the attacker has gathered enough information, they can create a convincing email. It’s intended to look to be from a high-level executive or business partner.

The email will request that the recipient send a payment or transfer funds. It frequently underlines that the request is for an urgent and confidential matter. Consider a new business opportunity, vendor payment, or international tax payment.

The email will frequently convey a sense of urgency, requiring the receiver to respond swiftly. The attacker may also employ social engineering strategies. For example, posing as a trustworthy contact or constructing a phony website that looks like the company’s site. These methods make the email appear more credible.

If the recipient falls for the deception and makes the payment, the attacker will take the cash. In their wake, the victim suffers financial losses.


Combatting Business Email Compromise

BEC scams can be difficult to avoid. However, organisations and people can take precautions to reduce their vulnerability.


Train Your Employees

Businesses should educate workers about the dangers of BEC. This includes instruction on how to recognise and prevent these scams. Employees should be aware of the methods utilised by scammers. For example, urgent inquiries, social engineering, and fraudulent websites.

Training should also involve email account security, such as:

  • Regularly checking their mail folder for any unusual texts.
  • Using a strong email password of at least 12 characters.
  • Changing their email password periodically.
  • Storing their email password securely.
  • Notify an IT contact if they detect a phishing email.

Implement Email Authentication

Organisations should use email authentication techniques. This includes:

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

These protocols aid in the authentication of the sender’s email address. They also lower the possibility of email spoofing. Another benefit is that your emails will not end up in junk mail folders.


Establish a Payment Verification Procedure

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


Create a Response Strategy

Organisations should have a reaction plan for BEC situations. This contains the steps for reporting the incident. In addition to halting the transfer and informing law enforcement.


Employ Anti-phishing Solutions

Anti-phishing software can help businesses and individuals detect and prevent bogus emails. As AI and machine learning become more widely used, their effectiveness increases.

The application of AI in phishing technology is increasing. Businesses must remain watchful and take precautions to protect themselves.

It only takes a moment for money to depart your account and become unrecoverable. Do not leave your business emails unprotected.

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