How To Protect Yourself From Business Email Compromise

Emails are the lifeblood of any business or organization; they streamline internal/external communication, enhance record-keeping and file sharing, maximize marketing opportunities, and more. If a business email compromise were to occur, your business could suffer far-reaching interruptions, intellectual property loss, reputational damage, and monetary loss.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals are always working round-the-clock to develop more sophisticated means of launching Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. Unless your business implements the right security best practices and measures, you may remain highly vulnerable to such attacks.

That’s why we’ve decided to create this comprehensive explainer guide to enlighten you on how to protect yourself from BEC attacks. But first, let’s look at some techniques used by scammers to conduct them.

Actual Methods Used by Business Email Compromise Attackers

Email Spoofing

Email spoofing is a BEC technique where attackers fabricate the email header to dupe the end-user into thinking that the email is coming from a respected figure within or without the business. The goal is to trick the recipient into opening or replying to the email, which paves the way for a data compromise or theft.

For instance, an attacker may pose as a popular retail business supplier asking the target to submit personal data like credit card numbers or passwords. The spoofed email may also aim to convince the recipient to click on a link offering a one-time deal (limited edition). In reality, it may be a directory to download and install malware on the user’s computer.

Phishing

Phishing is another business email containment attack that many people often confuse with spoofing. The latter involves stealing the identity of a respected figure. The former is where the attacker tricks you into giving sensitive credentials using legitimate-looking messages. The scammer usually sends the target a link to a fraudulent website where they’re required to provide sensitive information such as their tax ID, bank account details, or social security number.

If you fall for the trick and release this information, you can suffer far-reaching damage to your finances and assets or a credit rating setback. This is because the attackers can use your information to request funds or transfer money to fraudulent accounts.

Wire Fraud

Here, cybercriminals usually leverage electronic communication devices, e.g., computer or telephone, to launch business email compromise attacks. A common BEC wire fraud is where the fraudster emails a target claiming that they possess massive amounts of money, which they can’t access due to legal or political situations.

They then ask the email recipient to help them transfer the funds to another account that they can access. And in return? The scammers promise the end-user a vast chunk of the said funds. But, we all know that there are no millions of dollars trapped somewhere. Ultimately, the scammer aims to obtain the email recipient’s sensitive financial information if they fall for the trick.

Alternatively, a cybercriminal may pursue wire fraud to conduct identity theft. After obtaining your personal information, they may use the credentials to apply for huge loans or credit cards, leaving you in a financial abyss.

Ways to Protect Yourself Against Business Email Compromise Schemes

Now that you’ve discovered some of the most common BEC scams that your business may be exposed to, it’s time to take proactive measures to ensure that you don’t fall victim. Here are a few tricks and best practices to keep you out of harm’s way:

Strengthen Your Accounts Using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

2FA is a security process where users need to provide two distinct authentication factors when accessing their devices or software. Besides the password, you provide a second factor, such as a security code or biometric (fingerprint, voice, or facial scan). That way, it becomes practically impossible for a hacker to access your online accounts, even if they manage to crack your password.

Bolster Your Password Security

It goes without saying; password hacking is the most straightforward way for a cybercriminal to access your online accounts. And having a sub-standard password makes it even easier for them. Below are some password security best practices to apply:

  • Don’t operate work devices on default passwords
  • Don’t use the same password on multiple accounts
  • Ensure your password has uppercase & lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Keep your password at least 11 characters long
  • Immediately decommission your password if you suspect it’s been compromised
  • Don’t reset to the compromised password

Invest in Dark Web Monitoring

If the cybercriminals fail to find a ready market or use for your sensitive credentials, they post them on the dark web at lower prices. “Buy login credentials to a $70,000 JP Morgan account for $1,000” or “buy a prepaid debit card with $30,000 for $500.” These are some of the postings you can expect to come across on the dark web.

Investing in top-notch dark web monitoring services can save your sensitive data from getting compromised. A dark web monitor drills deeper into dark webs commonly used by cybercriminals, looks for your personally identifiable information, and then sends you alerts to let you know that your data has been compromised.

Other Cybersecurity Best Practices to Prevent Business Email Compromise Attacks

Below are additional tips to help your business and its employees outsmart BEC schemes:

To the Employees

  • Don’t open or respond to any unsolicited emails from unknown senders. Instead, report such emails to your IT experts and delete them immediately.
  • Email requests for secrecy or coercion to take immediate action are a big red flag.
  • Never provide any login details or personal information as a response to an email text.

To the Management

  • Invest in providing your employees with continual training and education on how to unmask and recognize BEC schemes.
  • Be sure to onboard your temporary staff or new employees appropriately. Make sure they understand the tactics that cybercriminals might use to lure them into providing sensitive data.
  • Implement an intrusion detection system that flags suspicious impersonating emails.
  • Be mindful of your social media postings, more so job openings, staff hierarchy details, etc.

Over to You!

Hopefully, this blog helped you learn a new thing or two on how to protect yourself from business email compromise. Though common among businesses and organizations, BEC attacks like email spoofing, phishing, and wire fraud are 100% preventable if you implement the right cybersecurity measures.

ParkwayTech is a trusted IT services company that takes pride in helping businesses overcome security and IT-related hurdles through its wide range of solutions. We are your reliable partner for providing cybersecurity, dark web monitoring, business continuity planning, IT support, and more. Schedule a FREE consultation with our experts today, and let us create a customized solution to protect you against BEC and other cyber attacks.

Written by Chris Michalec posted on March 29, 2021

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