Organizations are subjects to BEC cyber attacks

In the early years of 2010, we were always subjected to romance scams,  via social media and text messages, forming an emotional connection, and eventually, the scammer plays on our emotions and persuades us to give out personal information like bank information or retirement accounts.

With the gain of power in the internet of things and technology, scams have been more advanced, to the phishing acts which are being modified every day.

Cybercriminals are boosting their game and employing new tactics to move up the chain of command with more sophisticated business email compromise (BEC) threats that pose a greater threat to organizations, according to a new report.


A business email compromise (BEC) is an exploit in which the attacker gains access to a corporate email account and spoofs the owner’s identity to defraud the company or its employees, customers or partners of money.  BEC is also referred to as man-in-the email attacks.

Advanced BEC attacks–including impersonation attacks and CEO fraud–showed a steady increase in the first quarter of 2019 and are projected to rise through the second quarter, according to the most recent Email Threat Report from security firm FireEye.

A BEC cyber attacker uses new tactics and techniques, starting with the emails themselves it sends to victims.

Take an example, a more commonly used BEC ruse, claiming payment is due to a vendor and a wire transfer needs to be processed as soon as possible. However, the attacker can switch tactics and use a mergers and acquisitions theme. After a generic initial email meant to elicit a response, then the vendor accepted an offer for acquisition and, based on the terms of the agreement, 30 percent of the purchase price needs to be paid in advance via wire transfer to a bank.

In another switch, BEC attacker can also begin spoofing target domains. Domain spoofing attacks capitalize on impersonating the URL of well-known brands or people – a case study, executives in target companies.

The attacker can consistently use a tactic since that entails using a free and temporary email account with an imposter display name to send the BEC emails. However, most times the attacker is already spoofing the email address of the target company’s CEO as a way to add a bit more authenticity to their malicious attacks – adding an air of authenticity to the attacks.

For BEC protections, there are several things that organizations and individuals can do to not fall, the victim.

Implementing a DMARC [which stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance and is an email authentication protocol] solution can help organizations look at the reputation of senders who may be spoofing their CEO’s, asking for wire transfers or gift card. For individuals, being informed about the different types of scams that actors are using can be helpful as well.

For more information on similar attacks, register for the  Cyber Security Conference from the 16th-18th October 2019 organized by IFIS in partnership with Summit consults LTD and NITA-U which would train and save organizations prevent some attacks.

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