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

SearchCompliance

  • compliance audit

    A compliance audit is a comprehensive review of an organization's adherence to regulatory guidelines.

  • regulatory compliance

    Regulatory compliance is an organization's adherence to laws, regulations, guidelines and specifications relevant to its business...

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

SearchSecurity

  • RSA algorithm (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman)

    The RSA algorithm is the basis of a cryptosystem -- a suite of cryptographic algorithms that are used for specific security ...

  • remote access

    Remote access is the ability to access a computer or a network remotely through a network connection.

  • IP Spoofing

    IP spoofing is the crafting of Internet Protocol (IP) packets with a source IP address that has been modified to impersonate ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • network disaster recovery plan

    A network disaster recovery plan is a set of procedures designed to prepare an organization to respond to an interruption of ...

  • virtual disaster recovery

    Virtual disaster recovery is a type of DR that typically involves replication and allows a user to fail over to virtualized ...

  • tabletop exercise (TTX)

    A tabletop exercise (TTX) is a disaster preparedness activity that takes participants through the process of dealing with a ...

SearchStorage

  • enterprise storage

    Enterprise storage is a centralized repository for business information that provides common data management, protection and data...

  • disk array

    A disk array, also called a storage array, is a data storage system used for block-based storage, file-based storage or object ...

  • optical storage

    Optical storage is any storage type in which data is written and read with a laser. Typically, data is written to optical media, ...

Close