Browse Definitions :
Definition

business email compromise (BEC, man-in-the-email attack)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A business email compromise (BEC) is an exploit in which the attacker gains access to a corporate email account and spoofs the owner’s identity to defraud the company or its employees, customers or partners of money. In some cases, an attacker simply creates an account with an email address that is very similar to one on the corporate network. BEC are also referred to as man-in-the email attacks.

In a BEC exploit, the attacker typically uses the identity of someone on a corporate network to trick the target or targets into sending money to the attacker’s account. BEC may involve malware,  social engineering or a combination of the two. The most common victims of BEC are companies that use wire transfers to send money to international clients.

There are numerous ways that BEC can be used to defraud targets. Here are a few examples:

  • Bogus invoicing scams use a compromised employee account to request a change in payee information, transferring payments to the perpetrator’s account.
  • In CEO fraud scams, the criminal pretends to be an executive and requests that an HR or finance department employee make an emergency payment.
  • In an employee account compromise, the attacker might, for example, send an invoice to partner vendors.
  • An attorney’s email identity might be used to pressure for payments, claiming to be handling time-sensitive, confidential matters and requesting immediate payment.

Cybercriminals may further use a compromised account (especially those of HR employees) to gain more personally-identifiable information (PII) for later use in defrauding the company or its clients.

The FBI estimated that from 2013-2015, BEC-related losses affected 22143 victims in 79 countries, with estimated losses of $3,086,250,090. Measures to prevent BEC include employee education, phone verification of payment changes, secondary sign-offs for payment changes and just generally keeping an eye out for irregularities in email communications.

This was last updated in January 2017

Continue Reading About business email compromise (BEC, man-in-the-email attack)

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

  • compliance as a service (CaaS)

    Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is a cloud service service level agreement (SLA) that specified how a managed service provider (...

  • data protection impact assessment (DPIA)

    A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) is a process designed to help organizations determine how data processing systems, ...

SearchSecurity

  • Port Scan

    A port scan is a series of messages sent by someone attempting to break into a computer to learn which computer network services ...

  • DMZ (networking)

    In computer networks, a DMZ (demilitarized zone), also sometimes known as a perimeter network or a screened subnetwork, is a ...

  • quantum supremacy

    Quantum supremacy is the experimental demonstration of a quantum computer's dominance and advantage over classic computers by ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • disaster recovery team

    A disaster recovery team is a group of individuals focused on planning, implementing, maintaining, auditing and testing an ...

  • cloud insurance

    Cloud insurance is any type of financial or data protection obtained by a cloud service provider. 

SearchStorage

Close