Emails have become a standard method of communication between businesses and other corporate organizations. Almost every business makes use of email for communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, it can also be the chink in a business’s armor. It is one of the common ways to attack an organization.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of fraud that is on the rise and targets businesses of all sizes. While numerous forms of internet crime have peaked and declined in recent years, BEC scams did the opposite. This online business attack has amplified the total number of victims affected and the cost of the hack itself.
According to a report from the FBI, there has been a significant increase in identified global losses due to the BEC scam, with a 65% increase in losses reported between July 2019 and December 2021. Also, in actual terms, business email compromise scams cost about $2.4 billion in losses in 2021.
It’s clear that no business is immune to this threat. Fortunately, it is possible to protect your business from this type of online scam. This article will explore what your company can do to stop BEC attacks and protect your financial and reputational assets.
What Is BEC (Business Email Compromise)?
A business email compromise is an online attack on company email that involves hackers targeting small and large businesses to gain access to the email and use them fraudulently.
Business email compromise scams can take many forms. Still, some of the most common ways hackers carry out these scams include sending fraudulent invoices, requesting changes to payment information, and impersonating company executives or vendors. They try to convince employees to send money or sensitive and confidential information. In some cases, cybercriminals may also use malware or phishing attacks to gain access to company email accounts and carry out business email scams.
Since email remains an important way businesses communicate internally and with other businesses and partners, especially for payment requests and invoice emailing. You only need to go through your sent email section to confirm how true this is. However, the fact remains that email accounts and addresses are easy to impersonate and compromise.
How Hackers Perpetrate BEC Scams
BEC scams typically exploit emails’ security weaknesses, targeting an organization’s C-level members (and other top-level members). These scam types usually begin with a phishing attack. This allows malicious actors to access one or numerous emails of important people within a business. Finance department staff are the most common targets, with CFOs and CEOs following behind closely.
After gaining access to the email account, they begin to send out emails (which are legitimate at face value, considering that they are coming from legitimate emails) requesting to make specific payments to others in the organization or related businesses for specific services rendered. Initially, the email will not appear in the spam or trash sections or be identified by anti-virus or email filtering software because of its legitimacy.
Another form is when cyber attackers spoof (or falsify) a high-level business email account, called lookalike domain spoofing. To carry out this scam, attackers use an email similar to the original email to trick people into sending what they need to the impersonated accounts. This is why it is recommended that businesses train their employees to check their email addresses of email, legitimate or not, before replying to them.
What You Need to Do to Prevent Hackers from Hitting Your Business with BEC Attacks
Stopping business email compromise attacks is usually a challenge for some businesses. However, there are ways to reduce the success of these attacks on your company. These include:
Company staff and employees at all levels should take training and seminars on business email compromise scams and how to recognize and counter them. Focus on training your employees on identifying phishing scams and various social engineering techniques, which is usually the beginning of a BEC attack strategy.
Increase the professional knowledge of your IT department
Strengthening your IT department is something every business should work towards. You can choose from these options – outsource your IT work to professional IT companies, fund cybersecurity training for your IT employees – or combine them depending on your budget and staff availability).
Increase your email security
While BEC scams usually develop into social engineering at the end, it typically starts from email. Hence you should aim to increase the strength of every email connected to your business. To increase your email’s security, having unique and strong passwords for each email account and activating features such as VPNs and MFA (multi-factor authentication) is an essential step to protect your email. You can also trigger alerts for every login.
Have a contingency plan
Businesses should know that it is normal to prepare for the worst, and that is exactly what you should do. Create a failsafe plan or a procedure that details everything that needs to be done in case of a successful attack on your business. This helps to mitigate the effects and ensure that the process used to hack is identified to ensure it never happens again. This plan should be as detailed as possible, and key staff should be well-informed and know their roles if such matters arise.
Monitor your payment procedures
Business email compromise scams usually depend on payments to be successful, and this is one aspect where you can prevent the strategy from happening. Reduce the risk of this event by developing protocols involving different staff and platforms. The idea is to ensure that every step of the process goes through other people, which will increase the likelihood of someone identifying the scam and stopping the payment process before it’s too late.
Conduct regular security audits
Conducting regular security audits can help identify vulnerabilities in a company’s email security system. An independent third party should carry out these audits as this increases the likelihood of all potential threats being identified.
The audit should include an assessment of the company’s email security protocols, employee training, password policies, and anti-malware and anti-phishing software. The results of the audit would then be used to improve the company’s email security system and ensure that it is up to date with the latest threats.
Increase Your Email Security with Copperband Technologies
Prevent business email compromise scams from affecting your Middle Tennessee or Southern Kentucky business. Copperband Technologies can help you with affordable solutions. Contact us today!