What Is BEC?

Business email compromise (BEC) is a type of cybercrime where the scammer uses email to trick someone into sending money or divulging confidential company info. Fraudsters gain unauthorized access to a legitimate email account, often belonging to a company executive or a trusted contact. They then use this compromised email account to send fraudulent emails, posing as the executive, with the aim of redirecting payments to their own accounts.  

To safeguard yourself and your organization from falling victim to these scams, it’s crucial to understand how they operate and implement preventive measures. 

Recognizing Business Email Compromise

Spoofed Email Addresses:

  • Scammers use advanced techniques to spoof email addresses, making it appear as though the email is coming from a legitimate source.
  • Be vigilant and scrutinize the email address carefully, looking for minor discrepancies or variations that may induce a spoofed address.

Manipulation of Urgency and Authority:

  • Scammers often create a sense of urgency and authority in their emails to pressure recipients into taking immediate action. 
  • They may claim an urgent need for a payment destination change, providing plausible reasons such as vendor updates, account consolidation, or billing errors. 

Impersonation of Executives:

  • Fraudsters exploit the trust placed in high-level executives by impersonating them in emails. 
  • They may replicate the executive’s writing style, signature, and even include personal details to make the email appear legitimate. 

Preventing Business Email Compromise

Verify Payment Requests:

  • Establish a multi-factor authentication process for payment-related changes, especially when they involve changes in account details or payment destinations. 
  • Implement a verification system that requires direct contact with the executive or authorized personnel via a trusted communication channel before making any payment changes. 

Strengthen Email Security:

  • Enable strong spam filters and email authentication protocols (e.g., SPF, DKIM, DMARC) to help identify and block spoofed emails. 
  • Regularly update and patch email server software to mitigate potential vulnerabilities that scammers could exploit. 

Employee Awareness and Training:

  • Educate employees about the risks associated with BEC scams and provide training on how to identify suspicious emails and phishing attempts. 
  • Encourage a culture of skepticism, where employees verify unusual requests through alternative means of communication rather than solely relying on email. 

Robust Internal Controls:

  • Implement strict financial controls, such as requiring multiple approvals for payment changes and regularly reviewing and reconciling financial transactions. 
  • Conduct periodic audits of internal processes and systems to identify any vulnerabilities that scammers could exploit. 

Business Email Compromise scams can cause significant financial losses and reputational damage to individuals and organizations. By being vigilant, training employees, and implementing robust preventive measures, you can protect yourself and your organization from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes. Remember to verify any payment requests that involve changes in payment destinations, double-check email addresses for any signs of spoofing, and maintain strong email security measures. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.