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5 Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Business Email Compromise Attacks

The rate of business email compromise attacks has increased dramatically over the past few years. According to SCMedia, in 2021, nearly 77% of global businesses faced BEC (business email compromise)—which means that you should assume that any email you send or receive could be part of a successful breach. And while businesses are required to secure their networks and data, this doesn’t mean they’re immune to attacks. After all, there are millions of people with malicious intent who want to get into your network, and the best way to protect yourself is to understand the risks.

From how hackers exploit vulnerabilities in email clients to how they use social engineering tactics to gain access, you can learn about the tactics they use and how you can protect yourself. So, read on for our list of the top five ways to mitigate the risks of business email compromise attacks.

1) Mitigate the Risk of a Successful BEC Attack Though Security Awareness Training

Security awareness training is the best way to mitigate the risk of a successful business email compromise attack.

What is security awareness training, you ask? It’s a program that ensures your employees are aware of the risks associated with their job, as well as the types of attacks they’re likely to encounter and how to respond appropriately. A security awareness program also helps employees recognize when they’re being targeted by an attack.

The first step in implementing a security awareness program is to develop a strategy for doing so. There are many ways to do this: you can opt for an online course or an offline seminar; you can choose a video-based approach or something more interactive (like role-playing); and there are many types of training materials available—from handouts and posters to videos and guides. The key is finding what works best for your organization!

Once you’ve decided on your methodology, it’s time to start implementing it! For instance, if you’re going with an online course, set up notifications so that employees get notified when new material becomes available. If you’re going with seminars or workshops, make sure everyone gets invited! And if your company has its own intranet site or internal social network, use that to highlight new training. The key is being consistent in your messaging and making sure everyone knows what’s happening.

2) Implement Multi-Factor Authentication on Your Email Accounts

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ve probably heard that business email compromise attacks are on the rise.

These attacks occur when hackers impersonate a company employee to gain access to sensitive information, including usernames and passwords. They can also launch ransomware attacks on the company’s network, which hold the files hostage until they are paid a ransom.

The good news is that there are several ways to mitigate the risks of these attacks—most of which can be implemented with just a little bit of effort. One such way is by implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) on your email accounts.

What is multi-factor authentication, you ask? Well, multi-factor authentication is an additional layer of security for your account that requires more than just a username and password to log in successfully. It usually involves either entering a secondary code sent over text message or answering security questions before you’re allowed access to your account. This extra layer of protection prevents hackers from gaining access if they steal your credentials or phishing them using social engineering tactics like fake emails or phone calls.

3) Segment Your Network’s Critical Resources from General Email Access

In order to mitigate the risks of a business email compromise attack, you need to ensure that your network’s critical resources are not accessible via general email access. That means using separate accounts for business and personal use, with specific passwords for each account. You should also make sure that you’re not using the same password across multiple accounts.

If you’ve done all this and still find yourself at risk, it may be time to look into two-factor authentication options for your network’s most important accounts. You can also add an extra layer of protection by using an email security gateway that can block phishing emails from reaching your users’ inboxes. Further protection can be gained by using a web application firewall (WAF) that filters out malicious content before it reaches your users’ devices. The bottom line is that you need to be proactive about protecting your network from cyber criminals who are constantly looking for ways to steal sensitive data or gain access to your systems without permission.

4) Periodically Check All Email Addresses in Your Entire Organization for Unauthorized Forwarding and Account Sharing Permissions

If you’re concerned about the risks of business email compromise attacks, it’s a good idea to periodically check all of your company’s email accounts and make sure that there isn’t any unauthorized forwarding or sharing permissions enabled.

You might be surprised at how many people have been given access to other people’s accounts. And if they’ve been given the ability to forward mail on their own, they could potentially send sensitive information to someone else as well.

This is especially dangerous if your organization uses a single authentication system or password across multiple systems: if one person gets compromised, they could easily access your entire network. And because many people use the same password across multiple systems, it’s even easier for hackers to gain access and wreak havoc on your company’s data.

Luckily, there are several ways that you can mitigate this risk:

  1. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all accounts that require it.
  2. Educate users on the importance of strong passwords and password hygiene.
  3. Train employees on how to spot phishing attempts, as well as what to do if they receive one.
  4. Implement an identity and access management (IAM) system that allows you to manage your users’ accounts, passwords and other sensitive data.
  5. Use a password manager to create strong, unique passwords for each account.

5) Implement DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance)

DMARC is an email authentication standard that helps organizations mitigate the risks of Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks and phishing scams. It can be implemented as a DNS record and can help prevent spoofing and phishing by verifying that incoming emails are legitimate.

If you implement DMARC, your company’s domain will publish a DMARC policy in the DNS system. This policy will tell receiving parties what to do with emails that fail to pass SPF or DKIM checks. You can choose between four actions: reject, quarantine, hold or accept. These actions tell receiving parties how to deal with emails that fail authentication checks.

The most common action for failed DMARC checks is “reject”, which sends back a bounce message and prevents the email from reaching its intended recipient. DMARC is a powerful tool for protecting your business from phishing and spoofing attacks. However, it does require some work to set up and maintain. If your company doesn’t already have a policy in place, it’s worth exploring how DMARC could help protect your domain against email spoofing attacks.

Final Conclusion

It’s hard to overstate the importance of email security. Email is the backbone of many businesses, and if that system is compromised, it can have serious consequences. Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of the different types of email security and how they can help protect your business. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out in the comments below!