How to Combat Business Email Compromise: A Guide to Best Practices
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a growing cybersecurity threat that targets companies of all sizes. In this type of attack, cybercriminals impersonate executives or other employees within a company to deceive victims into transferring funds or revealing sensitive data. As such, it is imperative that companies are vigilant and take steps to prevent these attacks. This blog post will shed light on Business Email Compromise and provide best practices to avoid falling victim.
Understanding Business Email Compromise
Business Email Compromise involves the unauthorized use of email accounts through various means, such as phishing or hacking, to commit fraud. Typically, the attacker impersonates a high-ranking executive or a trusted vendor/advisor and sends an email to an employee with the authority to conduct financial transactions or access sensitive information. They may also impersonate you or members of your organization to illicit funds or information from your vendors and clients.
The Devastating Impact
BEC attacks can have devastating consequences for companies. Beyond the immediate financial losses, they can also lead to reputational damage, loss of clients, and legal consequences.
Best Practices to Avoid Business Email Compromise
1. Educate and Train Employees
Make sure your employees are aware of the dangers of BEC attacks. Provide regular training on recognizing phishing emails, and the importance of verifying email content and sender details. With new vendors and clients, we recommend always contacting them via another means than email to verify financial requests.
2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Implement MFA wherever possible, especially for email accounts and systems that handle financial transactions. This adds an additional layer of security, making it harder for attackers even if they obtain login credentials.
3. Establish Verification Procedures
Create procedures for verifying the legitimacy of email requests for fund transfers or sensitive data. This could involve having multiple approvals for transactions, or using an alternative communication channel (e.g., phone call) to confirm the request.
4. Keep Systems Secure
Ensure that all systems are kept up to date with the latest security patches. Use robust security software to protect against malware and other threats.
5. Monitor Email Traffic and Behavior
Implement next generation email security tools and monitoring solutions to detect suspicious email activity. Look for red flags such as mismatched email addresses, unusual transfer amounts or requests.
6. Limit Authority
Restrict the number of employees that have the authority to approve fund transfers and access sensitive information. This limits the potential targets for BEC attackers.
7. Encourage a Culture of Communication
Encourage an open line of communication among employees. Employees should feel comfortable double-checking if they’re uncertain about an email request, even if it appears to come from a superior.
8. Regularly Review and Audit
Regularly review and audit your financial and non-financial transactions. This will help in quickly identifying and responding to any unauthorized or suspicious activity.
9. Implement Domain-Based Message Authentication
Implementing DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) helps in validating the authenticity of an email, reducing the risk of email spoofing.
10. Create an Incident Response Plan
Have a plan in place for responding to a BEC attack. Know who needs to be involved, how to contain the attack, and how to communicate the issue.
Business Email Compromise is a critical threat that organizations must actively guard against. By educating employees, implementing strong security measures, and fostering an environment of vigilance and communication, companies can greatly reduce their risk of falling victim to these damaging attacks.