In one of my blogs “BEC Attacks Yielded The Most Profit For Cyber Criminals In 2020!”, I mentioned how BEC attacks turned out to be the most lucrative means of making money for cyber criminals in 2020. This year too the attack vector has been often witnessed making the headlines!
Recently, the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) issued a warning to all the private sector entities in the US about the increasing BEC (Business Email Compromise) attacks. The alert was issued through TLP on March 17 and coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Malicious actors use social engineering attacks, such as phishing or email spoofing, to launch BEC attacks. In these attacks, threat actors usually impersonate a trusted source to send malicious emails with payment requests targeting companies that conduct wire transfers frequently. The attack vector has been so successful that it is constantly evolving and growing in volume, threatening the public’s safety and national security.
As a result, the FBI has encouraged the private sector entities to review their security policies and bolster their privacy and security mechanisms to avoid becoming a BEC attack victim.
“From 2018 through 2020, the FBI observed increases in business email compromise (BEC) actors targeting state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) government entities for financial gain due to vulnerability exploitation and transparency requirements.
BEC actors continue to target SLTT government entities with spoofed emails, phishing attacks, vendor email compromise, and credential harvesting techniques to manipulate payment or direct deposit information.”
It is widely believed that BEC attacks end when the payment requests made by the threat actors are granted. However, this is not the case. A successful BEC attack can also disrupt business operations, damage brand reputation, and lead to loss of valuable information such as employees’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and the company’s banking information.
According to an article by Dark Reading, Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recorded 791,790 complaints about BEC attacks in 2020 alone. According to IC3, this attack vector has also proved to be the most expensive, resulting in financial losses of approximately $1.8 billion on average in the US.
Mitigating the Risk of BEC Attacks
“What we should actually be doing is thinking about what are our key controls that will mitigate the risks. How do we have those funneled and controlled through the team that we have, how do we work through that in a well-formatted, formulated process and pay attention to those controls we have chosen? Not a continual, add more, add more, add more.” — Dr. Chris Pierson, CEO, Binary Sun Cyber Risk Advisors, at SecureWorld Charlotte
Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new tactics and techniques to launch BEC attacks. However, organizations can avoid these attacks by implementing some effective cyber security measures, minimizing the risk of suffering business email compromise attacks.
Some of them are listed below:
Email Authentication Protocols
An organization should implement the standard email authentication protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. Adopting these policies helps organizations in safeguarding against fake internal correspondence. An organization can also implement email domain security tools such as KDMARC that monitors SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to prevent email domain forgery. Notably, implementing these measures not only helps an organization in preventing BEC attacks but also prevents email spoofing attacks.
Educate Your Employees
Educate your employees about the threat posed by BEC attacks and the best practices for avoiding these attacks. Providing adequate cyber security awareness training will help your employees stay vigilant and spot BEC attacks easily. Additionally, It will make them understand their roles and responsibilities in protecting the organization.
Strong Password Policy
Last but not least, every organization should enforce a strong password policy. Passwords form the first line of defense when it comes to preventing the threat actors from accessing an account. The stronger the password the higher level protection your accounts, systems, or files receive. Sometimes, strong passwords are not sufficient. For this reason, organizations should also make sure that the employees are adopting multi-factor authentication for each of their accounts. This will add another layer of security to the accounts and prevents anyone from gaining unauthorized access even if the credentials have been compromised.
I hope this blog helps your organization in finding the solution to prevent BEC attacks. If you have any more suggestions on preventing BEC attacks then do comment down below.
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