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Business Email Compromise. What is it and how can you and your business avoid it?

In the digital age, businesses face numerous cybersecurity challenges, and one of the most pervasive threats is Business Email Compromise (BEC). BEC refers to a type of cyberattack where malicious actors exploit vulnerabilities in email communication to deceive employees and compromise a business's finances or sensitive information. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of Business Email Compromise, explore three common examples of how it can be used to compromise a business, and provide effective strategies to avoid falling victim to these attacks.

Understanding Business Email Compromise (BEC):

Business Email Compromise involves sophisticated social engineering techniques and typically targets individuals with access to company finances or sensitive information. The attackers often masquerade as high-level executives, trusted business partners, or reputable organisations to manipulate their victims. By impersonating a trusted source, cybercriminals aim to deceive employees into taking actions that can lead to significant financial losses or data breaches.

Examples of Business Email Compromise:

Invoice Manipulation: Attackers gain access to a legitimate vendor's email account and monitor ongoing business communications. They then intercept invoices and modify the banking details, redirecting the payments to their own accounts. This method can go unnoticed for an extended period, resulting in substantial financial losses.

CEO Fraud: Cybercriminals impersonate top executives within an organisation, often using compromised or similar email addresses, to instruct employees to transfer funds urgently. This technique preys on the trust and authority associated with high-ranking individuals, pressuring employees to comply with the fraudulent request without verifying its legitimacy.

Account Compromise: In this scenario, attackers gain unauthorized access to an employee's email account, usually through phishing or credential stuffing attacks. With control over the compromised account, they can send emails on behalf of the employee, directing colleagues or clients to perform financial transactions or divulge sensitive information unknowingly.

Avoiding Business Email Compromise:

Employee Awareness and Training: Education is crucial in combating BEC attacks. Businesses should conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about the risks associated with phishing emails, suspicious attachments, and the importance of verifying requests for financial transfers or sensitive information through a secondary communication channel.

Strong Authentication and Access Controls: Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) can significantly enhance the security of email accounts. Additionally, enforcing strong password policies, regularly updating software and operating systems, and restricting administrative privileges can reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access.

Robust Email Security Measures: Deploying advanced email security solutions can help detect and block phishing emails or suspicious attachments. These solutions often utilize machine learning algorithms and threat intelligence to identify potential threats and prevent them from reaching employees' inboxes.

Secure Financial Processes: Establishing strict procedures for financial transactions, such as implementing a two-step verification process for large transfers or verifying changes in banking details through multiple channels, can act as effective safeguards against BEC attacks.

Regular Security Audits: Conducting routine audits of email systems, network infrastructure, and employee practices can identify vulnerabilities and allow businesses to implement necessary security measures promptly.


Business Email Compromise poses a significant threat to organisations, with potentially devastating financial and reputational consequences. Understanding the nature of BEC attacks and their various manifestations is essential for businesses to develop robust defence strategies. By promoting employee awareness, implementing strong authentication measures, deploying email security solutions, and maintaining secure financial processes, businesses can significantly mitigate the risks associated with Business Email Compromise and protect their assets and sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and stay safe in the digital landscape.

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