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While QR code and Image-based phishing threats may be sounding alarms in 2024, the threat of Business Email Compromise (BEC) raged in 2023. The FBI's 2023 Internet Crime Report underscores this reality, noting that there were 21,489 complaints of BEC scams, resulting in $2.9 billion in reported losses. This report doesn't just highlight the prevalence of BEC; it signals an alarming trend of increasingly sophisticated methods, including the rapid dispersal of funds through cryptocurrency platforms and third-party payment processors.

The legacy gateway and AI-only solutions are no longer sufficient. Organizations must combine adaptive AI protection with advanced employee training to combat business email compromise.

The Growing Threat of Business Email Compromise 

According to the same FBI report, while phishing and spoofing lead the charge in complaint counts, the financial damages inflicted by BEC far outweigh those of other crime types, second only to investment fraud.

In the 2023 Osterman report, "Defending the Enterprise," respondents projected a 43.3% increase in BEC threats over the next 12 months. Among the most common BEC tactics are fake invoices, data theft, and account takeover, highlighting attackers' diverse strategies to deceive and defraud businesses.

Understanding BEC Attacks 

By understanding the mechanisms of BEC attacks, IT and security leaders can better equip their organizations to recognize and respond to these threats.

BEC attacks often begin with seemingly harmless emails disguised as legitimate requests from trusted contacts. However, these spear phishing attempts leverage social engineering techniques to exploit a trusted collaboration to redirect funds or steal sensitive information.

Empowering Your Team to Fight Back 

Empowering your team to combat BEC requires a multifaceted approach. Training programs must go beyond mere awareness, instilling the skills and confidence needed to identify and mitigate threats actively. According to the latest Osterman report, "Fortifying The Organization Against Image-Based and QR Code Attacks," 81% of respondents expect the importance of testing for BEC threats to either increase or remain high. This finding points to the recognition within the cybersecurity community of the critical role that proactive training plays in defending against BEC. 

3 Training Strategies for Your Team 

1. Launch Real-World Phishing Simulation Testing 

Testing employees with simulated phishing scenarios that mimic the tactics and techniques used by attackers will help sharpen your employee's ability to identify and respond to malicious emails. Utilizing tools like GPT-powered phishing simulation testing about the ability to safely convert an actual phishing threat into a template for a simulation campaign not only ensures that you're using current phishing tactics but also reduces the overhead of creating these complex campaigns. 

2. Establish Consistent Security Awareness Training (SAT) Programs

Building on the foundation laid by simulation testing, Security Awareness Training (SAT) programs offer a comprehensive curriculum covering the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. These programs are designed to educate employees about the evolving landscape of cyber risks, equipping them with the knowledge to navigate these challenges effectively. Including dynamic email banners and GPT-powered chat assistants further reinforces this training, providing timely reminders and support that keep cybersecurity principles top of mind. Together, these resources create a robust framework for ongoing education and vigilance. 

3. Cultivate a Culture of Vigilance and Empowerment

These training initiatives aim to foster vigilance and empowerment within your organization. Adopting a holistic approach to cybersecurity training transforms your team from potential victims into proactive defenders and instills a sense of confidence among employees. As they become more adept at recognizing and countering BEC attacks, they contribute to a collective defense that safeguards the entire organization. 

Jeff Rezabek
Post by Jeff Rezabek
March 8, 2024