Instances of Business Email Compromise scams have increased dramatically over the past few months, but what are they and how can you mitigate the threat?
Quite simply, official business email accounts are compromised to conduct unauthorised fund transfers. BEC scams often begin with an attacker compromising a business executive’s email account. This is usually done using keylogger malware or phishing methods, where attackers create a domain that’s similar to the company they’re targeting or a spoofed email that tricks the target into providing account details. Upon monitoring the compromised email account, the fraudster will try to determine who initiates transfers and who requests them. The perpetrators often perform a fair amount of research, looking for a company that has had a change in leadership in the finance function, or companies where executives are travelling. BEC scams have three versions:
The Bogus Invoice Scheme - usually involves a business that has an established relationship with a supplier. The fraudster asks to transfer funds for invoice payment to an alternate, fraudulent account via spoofed email, telephone, or fax.
CEO Fraud - Fraudsters identify themselves as high-level executives purporting to be handling confidential or time-sensitive matters and initiate a transfer to an account they control. This scam is also known as “Business Executive Scam”, “Masquerading”, and “Financial Industry Wire Frauds”.
“Employee Hack” - An email account of an employee is hacked and then used to make requests for invoice payments to fraudster-controlled bank accounts. Messages are sent to multiple vendors identified from the employee’s contact list. The business may not become aware of the scheme until their vendors follow up to check on the status of the invoice payment.
How to Mitigate the Threat