Business email compromise (BEC) is becoming more rampant, and businesses worldwide are at risk.  

BEC occurs when cybercriminals use malicious emails to scam individuals or organizations out of money and information to perform fraudulent transactions. These scams are ever evolving, and as they become more sophisticated, it gets even more difficult for people to tell the difference between a legitimate email or a scam.  

So, it’s essential to recognize early warning signs and red flags to watch out for when dealing with emails. Keep reading to get a head start.

Types of BEC Scams

There are different types of BEC scams, and they all aim to steal money, sensitive information or conduct fraudulent transactions. Some common types of BEC scams include:

  • Data Breach – A cybercriminal infiltrates your email system and sends phishing emails to employees to gain access to sensitive information, such as bank account details, social security numbers, and passwords.
  • False Invoice – Occurs when a criminal sends an email seeming to be from a supplier requesting payment. The email usually contains the supplier’s details, logo, and account number, making it look authentic.
  • Account Compromise – The “Your Account’s Been Compromised” BEC is a social engineering technique that tricks users into giving up their login information by claiming that there is something wrong with their account. This can be particularly detrimental if the employees have access to financial accounts.
  • CEO Fraud – Criminals impersonate a CEO or a high-ranking official in an organization, requesting a fraudulent transaction, such as the transfer of funds or buying gift cards.

Spotting a BEC Scam

To avoid falling for a BEC scam, watch out for red flags, including the following:

  • Spoofed Domain – Always check the email domain to verify the sender’s authenticity. Cybercriminals can make slight changes to the email domain to deceive their targets.
  • Odd Sender Like a Company Executive – When you receive an email from a high-ranking member of your staff, take note of the email address.
  • Spelling Mistakes in the Email Body – BEC scams often contain typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors, which can indicate that the email might be fraudulent.

Dangers of BEC 

BEC scams can have severe financial, reputational, and legal consequences for businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. A successful BEC scam can result in financial losses, data breaches, and business disruptions. Moreover, BEC victims may suffer reputational damage and loss of customer trust, as well as legal liability if confidential data are exposed.

How to Prevent BEC

Adopt these measures to prevent BEC attacks:

  • Enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – Set up multi-factor authentication on all accounts to avoid unauthorized access to sensitive information.
  • Educate Employees – Train employees on the dangers of BEC scams. Conduct regular cybersecurity training and keep them up to date on new threat intelligence.
  • Use an Email Authentication Tool – Email authenticators like DMARC or SPF can help detect spoofed emails, reducing the number of emails that make it to your inbox.
  • Use Encrypted Email Solutions – Employ encrypted email services to protect sensitive data, keeping it away from cybercriminals.

Bottom Line

Companies need to be proactive to reduce the risk of BEC scams. By understanding early warning signs and red flags and adopting best practices, organizations can minimize the chances of falling victim to scams. Ensure that employees are well-educated about the dangers of BEC and how to mitigate risk.

Deploying effective security measures such as multi-factor authentication, email authentication tools, and encrypted email solutions will also improve your security posture to keep your business safe and running smoothly.

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Name: Carolina d’Arbelles-Valle
Email: [email protected]
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