What is Business Email Compromise?

What is Business Email Compromise?

For more than 20 years, cybercriminals have relied on email attacks on employees to gain access to companies’ networks, data, and sensitive information. Business email compromise (BEC) is at the forefront of the many types of phishing schemes used by malicious actors in this area and remains the most persistent threat to businesses of all sizes.

Business email compromise is a sophisticated ploy that targets both businesses and individuals performing transfers of funds. Frequently, it’s carried out when a criminal compromises legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to carry out the unauthorized transfer of funds. The culprit poses as a trusted figure, then asks for a fake bill to be paid or for sensitive data they can use in another scam.

This type of scheme can take on many different forms but the goal is always the same — find a way in and then monetize your data, information, or access. Some of many real-world examples of BEC include:

  • Using access to install ransomware
  • Accessing personal information, such as medical records, to sell on the dark web
  • Posing as a vendor you deal with, and providing new — false — billing information
  • Posing as an executive in your company asking for help on an urgent task

Such BEC scams are prevalent and play out thousands of times each year, often resulting in rerouting thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to criminals. Business email compromise is consistently cited by the FBI every year as one of the most financially damaging online crimes. The FBI’s 2022 Internet Crime Report noted nearly 22,000 complaints of BEC in the last year alone, to the tune of more than $2.7 billion in adjusted losses.

What makes BEC tough to combat is it relies on social-engineering attacks that sidestep typical endpoint solutions for email security. Today, we’ll discuss how implementing AI-based solutions can fill the gap.

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Finding Better Protection Against Business Email Compromise

Email security controls preventing the targeting of end users and credentials have remained stagnant for much of the last decade. Email filtering platforms have consolidated and improved during that time, but are too often playing catch up. While problematic IP addresses, domains, and URLs are identified and noted by these preventative measures, attackers are adept at obscuring or changing elements to escape further notice. Secured email getaways (SEGs) excel at preventing already known problems from claiming another victim but do little to stop unknown or zero-day attacks.

Businesses are left with the choice of investing further in current solutions that have proven ineffective in curtailing business email compromise or finding new technology to displace current controls. Every organization needs email security that is more effective, easy to deploy, and can augment existing solutions.

Turning to AI for Assistance

Using AI-powered natural language processing and leveraging machine learning, innovative email security solutions identify and baseline good behavior patterns to block malicious and unwanted emails that evade other security controls. By plugging into the email ecosystem directly through API, such solutions can also seamlessly integrate with and enhance cloud gateway capabilities built into Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace.

While legacy email security controls look at where the email came from and who it’s going to, and do a good job of filtering out known threats, AI-based email security analyzes the content of emails to recognize when threats might be present — essential in dealing with BEC.

By identifying ‘good’ emails, such solutions develop a guide to measuring every incoming message. Those that appear to be anomalies, based on a continuously developed set of data compiled by AI, can be flagged immediately and remedied. Even if an email appears to come from a ‘legitimate’ account, it can be found to have certain characteristics that mark it as problematic, giving you another layer of defense against BEC and social engineering attacks.

No Silver Bullet

However, remember there is no all-in-one simple solution for email threats, like BEC, phishing, and ransomware. Doing the basics consistently, and partnering with a proven managed cybersecurity partner, will improve your risk profile dramatically. These ‘basics’ include:

  • Using multi-factor authentication (MFA). Did you know that in 2019, Microsoft announced that adding MFA to email was effective in preventing 99.9% of all identity-based attacks?
  • Dialing up password management. Use complex options and insist on rotating passwords after a set amount of time.
  • SPF, DKIM, and DMARC — the three pillars of email authentication — are security features that can be turned on to encrypt mail, identify if you are the sender of this email or not, and whether a sender of an email actually belongs to the organization.

Assess Your Situation: Plot your next steps, fix immediate issues, and make the most of your working environment with an IT assessment. Arnet Technologies has you covered.

Block Business Email Compromise with Arnet Technologies

For more than 10 years, Arnet Technologies has taken care of all things IT-related to give businesses in Ohio the peace of mind and confidence of knowing their essential tools and processes work correctly. Our complete package of managed cybersecurity offerings gives you 24/7 coverage, insight into your most valued assets, and the means to protect them.

With experience across every aspect of business technology, our consultants can assist in identifying the solutions you need for any IT-related situation. We put our expertise to work for you, uncovering new innovative solutions like Graphus, to guard your business against BEC and other threats.

Ready to trash the dangers possibly lurking in your inbox? Connect with our team today to learn more about how we make technology work for you.

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