In recent years, electronic mail (email for short) has become an essential part of our daily
lives. Many people use it for various purposes, including business transactions. With the
increasing dependence on digital technology, cybercrime has grown. A significant cyber
threat facing businesses today is Business Email Compromise (BEC).
Why is it important to pay particular attention to BEC attacks? Because they’ve been on
the rise. BEC attacks jumped 81% in 2022, and as many as 98% of employees fail to report
Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of scam in which criminals use email fraud to
target victims. These victims include both businesses and individuals. They especially
target those who perform wire transfer payments.
The scammer pretends to be a high-level executive or business partner. Scammers send
emails to employees, customers, or vendors. These emails request them to make payments
or transfer funds in some form.
According to the FBI, BEC scams cost businesses around $1.8 billion in 2020. That figure
increased to $2.4 billion in 2021. These scams can cause severe financial damage to
businesses and individuals. They can also harm their reputations.
BEC attacks are usually well-crafted and sophisticated, making it difficult to identify them.
The attacker first researches the target organization and its employees. They gain
knowledge about the company’s operations, suppliers, customers, and business partners.
Much of this information is freely available online. Scammers can find it on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and organizations’ websites. Once the attacker has enough information, they can craft a convincing email. It's designed to appear to come from a high-level executive or a business partner.
The email will request the recipient to make a payment or transfer funds. It usually
emphasizes the request being for an urgent and confidential matter. For example, a new
business opportunity, a vendor payment, or a foreign tax payment.
The email will often contain a sense of urgency, compelling the recipient to act quickly.
The attacker may also use social engineering tactics. Such as posing as a trusted contact or
creating a fake website that mimics the company's site. These tactics make the email seem
If the recipient falls for the scam and makes the payment, the attacker will make off with the funds. In their wake, they leave the victim with financial losses.
How to Fight Business Email Compromise