Table of Contents Hide
- How Is BEC Done?
- What Is the Main Goal of BEC?
- What Are the Types of BEC?
- Who Are BEC Fraud Targets?
- What is BEC vs EAC?
- What Are the 4 Main Types of Email Hacks?
- How Much Does a Business Email Compromise Cost?
- Business Email Compromise Example
- Business Email Compromise Scam
- Business Email Compromise Attack
- Business Email Compromise Tools
- Related Articles
Sky cloud reported that the FBI received 21,832 BEC complaints, with estimated losses totaling more than $2.7 billion last year. Business email compromise (BEC) occurs across the globe and the increasing statistic of this crime is alarming. BEC happens when a hacker gets into a real corporate email account and uses it to trick the recipient into doing something that helps the hacker. In most BEC attacks, the attacker pretends to be a high-ranking executive or a trusted vendor and sends an email that looks real. The email asks the recipient to do something, like wire money, give sensitive information, or download a file with malware on it. Unfortunately, these email appears convincing and sophisticated and as a result, causes individuals and businesses can lose a lot of money. Therefore, every business need to put in place strong email security measures or tools to stop BEC attack or compromise.
The medium to do this includes using two-factor authentication, email encryption, and training programs for employees to help them spot and avoid phishing scams.
Understanding Business Email Compromise
The purpose of a Business Email Compromise (BEC) is to get access to personal or group private information or financial resources by impersonating a legitimate firm or organization via email. In a BEC attack, a hacker will usually send a fraudulent email posing as a trusted person or entity, such as a company executive, supplier, or client.
The attacker may use various tactics to convince the recipient to take a specific action, such as transferring money, disclosing sensitive information, or clicking on a malicious link or attachment. The email may be carefully crafted to appear legitimate, and may even use social engineering techniques to exploit human vulnerabilities.
BEC attacks are hard to spot because they often use sophisticated social engineering techniques to trick employees into thinking that the email is real. Some common variations of BEC attacks include invoice fraud, payroll diversion, and CEO fraud, among others. Therefore, businesses have to use strong email security measures, like two-factor authentication and email filtering, to protect themselves from BEC attacks. They should also teach their employees about the risks of phishing and social engineering attacks. Additionally, businesses should have policies and procedures in place for verifying the authenticity of any request for sensitive information or financial transactions
How Is BEC Done?
BEC attacks are often highly sophisticated and can be difficult to detect, as they often rely on social engineering tactics and human error rather than technical vulnerabilities. To protect against BEC attacks, organizations should implement strong security protocols, such as multi-factor authentication, as well as provide training and awareness programs for their employees to help them recognize and avoid BEC attacks. Business email compromise (BEC) is a type of cybercrime that involves using fraudulent emails to deceive individuals within an organization into performing actions that benefit the attacker. BEC attacks typically involve the following steps:
The attacker conducts research on the target organization, typically through social engineering tactics, to identify key individuals and their roles within the organization.
The attacker creates a fraudulent email that appears to be from a trusted source, such as a high-ranking executive within the organization or a supplier or vendor. The email is designed to look legitimate and may include details such as the target’s name, job title, and other relevant information.
The attacker sends the fraudulent email to one or more individuals within the organization, typically requesting that they perform a task such as clicking on a malicious link, transferring funds to a specific account, or providing sensitive information.
If the target falls for the scam, they will unwittingly provide the attacker with the information or access they need to carry out the attack. For example, if the attacker requests a wire transfer, the target may provide the attacker with bank details or other sensitive information, which can then be used to redirect funds to the attacker’s account.
What Is the Main Goal of BEC?
The main goal of Business Email Compromise (BEC) is to deceive individuals within an organization into performing actions that benefit the attacker. The ultimate aim of the attack is usually financial gain, although attackers may also be interested in stealing sensitive information or gaining access to critical systems.
Social engineering techniques, like spoof emails, are often used in BEC attacks to get employees to do things that look like they are legitimate but actually help the attacker. For example, an attacker may send an email that appears to be from a high-ranking executive within an organization, requesting that a wire transfer be made to a specific account. If the employee falls for the scam, they may unwittingly transfer funds to the attacker’s account, leading to a financial loss for the organization.
BEC attacks can make attackers a lot of money because they can lead to large amounts of money being sent to their accounts. The attacks can also be hard to spot because they often use social engineering techniques and human mistakes instead of technical flaws. Because of this, it is important for organizations to have strong security protocols and training and awareness programs for their employees to help them recognize and avoid BEC attacks.
What Are the Types of BEC?
There are several types of business email compromise (BEC) attacks, each with its own specific characteristics and methods of execution. The following are some of the most common types of BEC attacks:
#1. CEO Fraud
In this type of attack, the attacker pretends to be a high-ranking executive in the company, like the CEO or CFO, and sends an email to an employee asking them to do something, like move money to a certain account.
#2. Invoice Scams
In this attack, the attacker pretends to be a supplier or vendor and sends an employee an email asking for payment on an invoice that hasn’t been paid. The email may include a fraudulent invoice or a request for updated payment information.
#3. Account Compromise
In this type of attack, the attacker gets into an employee’s email account and uses it to send fake emails to other employees in the same company. These emails usually ask other employees to transfer money or give sensitive information.
#4. Attorney Impersonation
In this type of attack, the attacker pretends to be a lawyer or legal representative and sends an email to an employee, asking them to do something like move money to a certain account or give sensitive information.
#5. Data Theft
In this type of attack, the attacker gains access to sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information, through a fraudulent email or other means. The attacker can then use this information for financial gain or to conduct further attacks.
BEC attacks are often very sophisticated and hard to spot because they rely on social engineering and human mistakes instead of technical flaws. Because of this, it is important for organizations to have strong security protocols and training and awareness programs for their employees to help them recognize and avoid BEC attacks.
Who Are BEC Fraud Targets?
Business email compromise (BEC) frauds can target a wide range of individuals and organizations, although they typically focus on businesses and other entities that regularly conduct financial transactions. Some common targets of BEC frauds include:
#1. Large Corporations
BEC scams also go after big businesses, which may have complicated financial structures and processes that can be used against them.
#2. Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs)
Due to their generally lax security controls and lack of devoted IT and security staff, SMBs are frequently the target of BEC frauds. These businesses may be more vulnerable to social engineering tactics and other forms of cybercrime.
#3. Government Agencies
BEC scams can also be used to take money from government agencies, especially those that handle money or sensitive information.
#4. Non-profit Organizations
Non-profit organizations are also potential targets of BEC frauds, particularly those that handle large amounts of money or sensitive information.
While BEC frauds typically target businesses and organizations, and individuals. For example, an attacker may send a fraudulent email to an individual posing as a family member or friend in need of financial assistance.
Social engineering and human mistake make BEC frauds difficult to detect. To avoid BEC fraud, people and organizations must create strong security processes and conduct training and awareness initiatives.
What is BEC vs EAC?
BEC (Business Email Compromise) and EAC (Email Account Compromise) are two similar but distinct types of cyber attacks that involve unauthorized access to email accounts for the purpose of financial gain.
BEC attacks typically involve the use of social engineering tactics to trick employees into transferring funds or disclosing sensitive information to the attacker. The attacker may impersonate a trusted individual, such as a CEO or vendor, in order to deceive the victim. BEC attacks are often highly targeted and may involve extensive reconnaissance to gather information about the target organization.
After gaining access, the attacker may utilize the account for phishing, identity theft, or unlawful financial transactions.
BEC attacks use social engineering to persuade victims into completing specified activities, whereas EAC assaults require unauthorized email account access and management. Both may be damaging for enterprises and individuals. Multi-factor authentication and security awareness training can prevent and mitigate both sorts of attacks.
What Are the 4 Main Types of Email Hacks?
There are several types of email hacks, but here are four main types:
#1. Password-based Email Hacks
In this type of hack, the attacker gains access to an email account by guessing or stealing the user’s password. Attackers can get passwords in a number of ways, such as through phishing, malware, or social engineering.
#2. Email Spoofing Hacks
Here, the attacker sends an email that appears to be from a legitimate source like a bank or government agency. However, is actually fraudulent. This can be used to trick the victim into giving up sensitive information or to launch more attacks.
#3. Email Forwarding Hacks
In this type of hack, the attacker sets up email forwarding to a different email account without the user’s knowledge. This allows the attacker to read and respond to the victim’s emails without their knowledge.
#4. Email Interception Hacks
In this kind of hack, the attacker intercepts emails as the victim is sending or receiving them. They do this by compromising the victim’s network or by using a Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack.
How Much Does a Business Email Compromise Cost?
The cost of a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack can vary widely depending on several factors. This may include the size of the organization, the amount of money stolen, and the duration of the attack. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the FBI says that between 2016 and 2019, BEC attacks caused more than $26 billion in losses. That’s quite a lot if you ask me.
In some cases, the losses from a BEC attack can be relatively small, such as a few thousand dollars. However, in other cases, the losses can be much larger. For example, in 2019, a Lithuanian man was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a BEC scheme that defrauded two tech companies out of more than $100 million.
In addition to the direct financial losses from a BEC attack, there can be large indirect costs, such as the cost of investigating and fixing the attack, lost productivity, reputational damage, and the risk of regulatory fines and legal action.
Businesses need to take steps to stop BEC attacks. This includes putting in place robust security controls, giving employees training and awareness programs, and checking all payment requests and changes to payment information through multiple channels.
Business Email Compromise Example
A business email compromise (BEC) is a type of cyberattack that targets businesses and organizations by impersonating a company executive or employee to deceive others into sending money, revealing sensitive information, or performing some action. Here’s an example of a BEC:
Let’s say a company’s CEO is named John Smith, and his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. An attacker creates a fake email account with an address that’s similar to John’s, such as email@example.com, using a similar-looking letter ‘r’ instead of an “i.” The attacker then sends an email to the company’s accountant, asking them to transfer $50,000 to a vendor’s bank account, claiming it’s an urgent payment that needs to be made immediately.
The email looks legitimate, and the accountant, not suspecting anything, transfers the money to the vendor’s account. The attacker then withdraws the funds and disappears, leaving the company out $50,000. This is just one example of how BEC attacks work, and they can take many forms, such as phishing scams or fake invoices. It’s important for businesses to be aware of these types of attacks and take steps to protect themselves, such as implementing multi-factor authentication and training employees to be aware of the dangers of BEC.
Business Email Compromise Scam
A business email compromise (BEC) scam is a type of cyber attack that involves the impersonation of a legitimate business entity to deceive others into transferring money, providing sensitive information, or performing some action. Here’s how a typical BEC scam works:
- The attacker usually gets into an employee’s email account by phishing or by hacking into the company’s network.
- The attacker looks at the employee’s email to find out how the company does business, such as the names of vendors, the amounts of money that are usually transferred, and when payments are usually made.
- The attacker then impersonates a high-level executive, such as the CEO, CFO, or COO, and sends an email to the employee responsible for financial transactions, such as the accountant or treasurer.
- The email instructs the employee to make an urgent payment to a vendor or contractor, often using a fake invoice or other documentation that looks legitimate.
- The email may use urgency, fear, or authority to pressure the employee into making the payment quickly, without questioning the request.
- The employee follows the instructions because he or she thinks the email is real. Often, this means sending large amounts of money to a fake account that the attacker controls.
- The attacker then withdraws the funds and disappears, leaving the company out of the money and potentially damaging its reputation.
Business Email Compromise Attack
A business email compromise (BEC) attack is a type of cyberattack that targets businesses by impersonating a company executive or employee to deceive others into sending money, revealing sensitive information, or performing some action. Most often, it occurs in the following way;
- First, the attacker does research on the target company and finds out who the CEO, CFO, and other high-level executives are.
- Secondly, the attacker then creates a fake email account or hacks into an existing email account belonging to one of the key personnel.
- The attacker sends a carefully made email to another employee in the company, usually someone in the finance or accounting department. The email appears to come from the executive and may use language and tone consistent with the executive’s communication style.
- The email asks the employee to send a lot of money to an outside account or offer sensitive information like employee records, client data, or intellectual property.
- The email may use urgency, fear, or authority to pressure the employee into complying with the request without question.
- The employee follows the request because he or she thinks the email is real. He or she transfers the money or gives the information as instructed.
- The attacker then withdraws the funds or utilizes the information for their own gain, leaving the corporation without money and potentially damaging the business.
Business Email Compromise Tools
Business email compromise (BEC) attacks usually use social engineering techniques and don’t need special tools or malware. These tools and approaches can help BEC scammers, but social engineering is often their most effective tool. Businesses should use two-factor authentication, email screening, phishing, and social engineering training to prevent BEC attacks. The following are some of the tools that attackers used for business email compromise;
#1. Email Harvesting Tools
The first on our list of business compromise tools is the email harvesting tool. Email harvesting software can crawl websites, social media, and other sources for email addresses. These tools can help attackers identify potential targets and build lists of email addresses to target in their BEC scams.
#2. Spoofing Tools
Attackers can use spoofing tools to create fake email addresses that appear to come from a legitimate source. These tools let the attacker change an email’s “From” address to appear to be from a target employee.
BEC scammers may use malware to access a target’s network or email. Attackers might use keyloggers to steal usernames and passwords or remote access tools to take control of a target’s computer.
#4. Email Tracking Tools
Attackers may use email tracking tools to monitor the delivery and read the status of their scam emails. This can help attackers to identify potential victims who are more likely to fall for their scams.
The last on our list of business email compromise or attack tools is the social engineering technique. BEC scams rely heavily on social engineering tactics, such as impersonation, urgency, and authority. Attackers may use social engineering techniques to trick targets into revealing sensitive information or transferring funds.
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