Have you ever received an email that seemed a bit too urgent, a tad too official, or oddly insistent on a financial transaction? If so, you might have encountered a Business Email Compromise, or BEC, attack. This increasingly prevalent form of cyber threat has been making headlines worldwide, and we are seeing attack attempts hit our clients. As we see BECs increase, we want to shed light on what it is and how to recognize its telltale signs.
What is BEC?
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a cyberattack where attackers impersonate trusted individuals or organizations through emails to deceive victims into taking actions, such as transferring funds or sharing sensitive information.
Is BEC the same as Phishing?
Two prevalent cyberattacks that often cause confusion are phishing and (BEC). While they share similarities, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart.
Phishing: Casting a wide net
Phishing is akin to a digital fishing expedition. Cybercriminals send deceptive emails, masquerading as legitimate sources, to a broad audience. These emails contain cunningly designed links or attachments, which, when interacted with, lead victims to fake websites or initiate the download of malware.
The ultimate goal of a phishing attack is to harvest sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, or personal data. Phishing can target individuals, employees within organizations, or virtually anyone with an email address.
Business Email Compromise: Precision and Expertise
On the other hand, Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a more refined and calculated form of cyber threat. In a BEC attack, the perpetrator focuses on infiltrating an organization’s email communications. This is achieved through tactics like email spoofing, where the attacker mimics the domain or display name of a trusted contact, often a high-ranking executive.
Additionally, BEC attackers invest time in meticulous research about the organization’s hierarchy and processes. Armed with this knowledge, they craft highly convincing emails. The primary objective of BEC is financial gain, typically through tricking individuals into making unauthorized financial transactions.
Here are some tips to recognizing a BEC attack:
Poor spelling, grammar and punctuation BEC attempts often contain errors in language usage
Unusual formatting, appearance or domain Be cautious of messages that look different from the sender’s typical style or come from random domains.
Non-official email address Messages not originating from official email addresses or domains may indicate a BEC attack.
Improper greeting or signature Unusual greetings, signatures or contact information could suggest phishing attempts and BEC attacks.
Unusual fund requests Payment requests to uncommon addresses through unusual methods should be treated cautiously
Urgency & rushed transactions BEC attackers create a sense of urgency to manipulate victims into acting hastily
Email-only communication If the sender avoids other channels of communication, it’s suspicious.
Remaining vigilant against BEC attempts is crucial in safeguarding your personal and business information. Always exercise caution when interacting with unsolicited emails, and remember, your security is our top priority! If you would like to learn more about how True Owl can help, please give us a call!