Business Email Compromise: New Guidance to Protect Your Organisation

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By: Antonio Smith / July 10, 2024

Business Email Compromise: New Guidance to Protect Your Organisation

  • In an era where digital communication is the lifeblood of business operations, securing your email infrastructure is more crucial than ever. Business Email Compromise (BEC) remains one of the most insidious threats to organisations worldwide. With cybercriminals becoming increasingly sophisticated, understanding BEC and implementing robust protective measures is essential. This article provides comprehensive guidance on how to shield your organisation from BEC attacks.
  • What is Business Email Compromise?
  • Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of cyber attack where criminals gain access to a business email account and mimic the owner’s identity to defraud the company and its partners, customers, or employees. These attacks can lead to significant financial losses and damage to an organisation’s reputation. BEC attacks typically involve the following methods:
  1. Phishing: Attackers trick employees into revealing their login credentials.
  2. Malware: Malware is used to infiltrate the email system and gain access to sensitive information.
  3. Spoofing: Criminals create email addresses that closely resemble legitimate ones to deceive recipients.
  • Recent Trends in BEC Attacks
  1. Increased Sophistication: Attackers are using advanced social engineering tactics to make their emails more convincing.
  2. Targeting Higher-Level Executives: Executives are often targeted because they have the authority to approve large financial transactions.
  3. Vendor Email Compromise: Cybercriminals compromise the email accounts of trusted vendors to exploit established relationships.
  • Protecting Your Organisation from BEC
  • To protect your organisation from BEC, it is essential to adopt a multi-layered security approach. Below are key strategies and best practices:

  1. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring two or more verification methods to gain access to email accounts. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised.

  1. Conduct Regular Security Awareness Training
  • Educate employees about the dangers of BEC and the tactics used by attackers. Regular training sessions should cover:
  • Recognising phishing emails.
  • Verifying email authenticity before responding.
  • Reporting suspicious emails to the IT department.

  1. Use Advanced Email Filtering
  • Deploy advanced email filtering solutions that use machine learning to detect and block phishing attempts and other malicious emails. These solutions can analyse email content, sender reputation, and attachment safety.

  1. Implement Email Encryption
  • Encrypt sensitive emails to protect the contents from being intercepted and read by unauthorized parties. This ensures that even if an email is compromised, the information within remains secure.

  1. Verify Financial Transactions
  • Establish a policy for verifying any financial transaction requests, especially those involving large sums of money. This should include:
  • Confirming requests via a secondary communication channel (e.g., phone call).
  • Implementing a multi-person approval process for significant transactions.

  1. Regularly Update and Patch Systems
  • Ensure that all email systems, software, and devices are regularly updated and patched. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to email accounts.

  1. Monitor and Audit Email Activity
  • Implement monitoring tools to track email activity and detect unusual patterns. Regular audits can help identify potential security gaps and address them promptly.

  1. Establish an Incident Response Plan
  • Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a BEC attack. This should include:
  • Immediate isolation of compromised accounts.
  • Investigation and documentation of the incident.
  • Notification of affected parties.
  • Measures to prevent future incidents.

  • Conclusion
  • Business Email Compromise is a growing threat that can have devastating consequences for any organisation. By understanding the tactics used by cybercriminals and implementing the protective measures outlined above, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to a BEC attack. Stay vigilant, educate your employees, and continuously update your security protocols to safeguard your organisation against this pervasive threat.
  • Implementing these best practices not only helps protect your organisation’s financial assets but also preserves your reputation and maintains the trust of your clients and partners. Stay proactive and make cybersecurity a top priority in your business strategy.



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