9 Ways to Combat the Rise in Business Email Compromise (BEC) Attacks

9 Ways to Combat the Rise in Business Email Compromise (BEC) Attacks

Business email compromise (BEC) attacks are one of the most prevalent cybersecurity threats. These attacks can result in significant financial losses, reputational damage, and data breaches. Therefore, it is essential for businesses to be aware of BEC attacks and take measures to protect themselves.

BEC attacks involve cybercriminals using email to gain access to sensitive information or trick employees into making fraudulent payments. These attacks are becoming more sophisticated, making it difficult for businesses to identify and prevent them. In this article, we will discuss in detail some ways to combat the rise in BEC attacks.

1. Educate Employees

Employees are the first line of defence against BEC attacks. Therefore, it is crucial to educate them on the risks of BEC attacks and how to identify and prevent them.

Regular Training Sessions

The best way to educate employees is to conduct regular training sessions that cover various topics such as how to identify phishing emails, the importance of strong passwords, and the risks of clicking on suspicious links or downloading attachments. The training sessions should also highlight the consequences of falling victim to a BEC attack, such as financial losses and reputational damage.

Mock Phishing Exercises

Mock phishing exercises can simulate real-world BEC attacks and help employees recognise and report suspicious emails. These exercises can be conducted through a third-party service that sends simulated phishing emails to employees and tracks their responses. This approach can help businesses identify vulnerable employees and provide additional training to those who need it.

2. Clear Policies and Procedures

Clear policies and procedures should be in place to ensure that employees follow email security best practices. These policies should include guidelines on password management, email usage, and reporting suspicious emails. The policies should be communicated clearly and regularly updated to reflect changes in the threat landscape.

3. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication

Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) can add an extra layer of security to email accounts. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of authentication, such as a password and a fingerprint scan, to access their accounts. This can help prevent unauthorised access to email accounts and reduce the risk of BEC attacks.

4. Use Encryption

Encryption can protect sensitive information in emails from being intercepted by cybercriminals. By encrypting emails, businesses can ensure that only the intended recipient can read the message. Encryption can also protect email attachments, ensuring that they cannot be accessed by unauthorised users.

Types of Encryption

There are different types of email encryption that businesses can use, including Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). TLS encrypts emails in transit between servers, while PGP encrypts emails end-to-end, making them more secure. Businesses should choose the encryption method that best suits their needs.

5. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)

Businesses that use PGP encryption should also implement a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) system. PKI uses digital certificates to verify the identity of the sender and recipient of an email. This can prevent spoofing, where a cybercriminal poses as a trusted sender, and can help ensure that the email is sent and received securely.

6. Monitor Email Activity

Monitoring email activity can help identify suspicious behaviour and prevent BEC attacks. Businesses should monitor email activity for unusual login locations or devices, multiple failed login attempts, and emails sent from unusual locations or to unusual recipients.

Automated Monitoring Tools

Businesses can use automated monitoring tools to detect suspicious activity and alert administrators in real time. These tools can analyse email logs and network traffic to identify anomalies that may indicate a BEC attack. The tools can also block suspicious emails before they reach employees’ inboxes.

Human Monitoring

Human monitoring can also be effective in detecting BEC attacks. Businesses can assign an IT security team or a dedicated employee to monitor email activity and investigate suspicious behaviour. This approach can provide a more personalised and targeted response to BEC attacks.

7. Implement Payment Verification Processes

One of the most common objectives of BEC attacks is to trick employees into making fraudulent payments. Therefore, implementing payment verification processes can help prevent these attacks.

Two-Person Approval

One approach is to require two-person approval for payments over a certain amount. This ensures that no single employee has the authority to make large payments without oversight. The approval process should include verifying the legitimacy of the payment request, confirming the recipient’s identity, and checking the payment details.

8. Verify Payment Details

Businesses should also verify payment details, such as the recipient’s bank account and routing number, before making a payment. This can help prevent fraudulent payments to fake accounts.

Voice Verification

Another approach is to use voice verification to confirm payment requests. This involves verifying the legitimacy of the payment request through a phone call or video chat. This approach can help prevent fraudulent requests made through email or other digital channels.

9. Keep Software and Systems Up to Date

Keeping software and systems up to date is essential to prevent BEC attacks. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software and systems to gain access to sensitive information or compromise email accounts.

Regular Updates

Businesses should regularly update their operating systems, software, and email servers to ensure that they are using the latest security patches and features. Updates should be scheduled and tested to minimise disruption to business operations.

Protect Yourself Today 

BEC attacks are a growing threat to businesses, and their consequences can be devastating. However, implementing the measures outlined in this article can help businesses combat the rise in BEC attacks. 

Educating employees, implementing MFA and encryption, monitoring email activity, implementing payment verification processes, and keeping software and systems up to date can all help prevent BEC attacks and protect businesses from financial losses, reputational damage, and data breaches.

If you have any questions or need assistance in protecting your business from BEC attacks, please contact GKM2 today. Our team of cybersecurity experts can provide customised solutions to help keep your business safe and secure.