Scammers Go Phishing: Business Email Compromise on the Rise

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Confirm Requests

Always confirm sensitive information requests.

If an employee receives an email from the CEO or supervisor asking them to send sensitive information like W-2s or to wire funds, they should speak directly with that individual to confirm the request, either in person or by phone. The "human factor" can be surprisingly effective in detecting threats.

Spammers are increasingly relying on high-targeted messages for financial gain, tricking businesses into either transferring funds or releasing sensitive information on employees. Since the beginning of the year, Cloudmark has seen a dramatic increase in text-only, email impersonation attacks known as Business Email Compromise (BEC).

The volume of BEC prompted the FBI to issue an alert on CEO spoofing spams cautioning businesses to be wary of e-mail only wire-transfer requests and requests involving urgency. According to Cloudmark's latest Quarterly Threat Report, losses from BEC wire-fraud attacks rose to an average of $104 million per month over the last 15 months.

Another BEC attack that gained traction this year is the W-2 scam, with more than 60 organizations falling prey to attacks targeting their employees' W-2s. Large and small companies in industries ranging from health care to higher education to technology to manufacturing have been fooled by attackers into leaking their employees' tax forms, with some attacks exposing the confidential information of tens of thousands of people.

How these attacks typically happen is that a member of the finance or human relations team will receive an email that appears to be from a high-ranking official, usually the CEO or CFO – with a straightforward request such as funds of W-2 data. However, they are really sending the funds or sensitive data to an outside official not connected with their organization. Due to the simplicity in executing these attacks, BEC spoofing attacks are one of the fastest growing forms of cyber fraud.

In this slideshow, Cloudmark has compiled tips for businesses and individuals on how to combat phishing attacks and prevent identity and tax fraud as financial losses.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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