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 ???publishDate.suggestedBy???

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

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchCloudProvider

  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.

SearchSecurity

  • cyberextortion

    Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of an attack coupled with a demand for money or some other response in ...

  • Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency is the official U.S. cryptologic organization of the United States Intelligence Community under the ...

SearchHealthIT

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to ...

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient...

  • 21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • Random Access Memory (RAM)

    Random Access Memory (RAM) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

  • floating gate transistor (FGT)

    A floating gate transistor (FGT) is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology capable of holding an electrical ...

  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close