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New Security Report from IRONSCALES and Osterman Research Shows Threat of Business Email Compromise Twice as High as That of Phishing Overall

2023 Mar 9

By 2025, 20% of anti-phishing solutions will be delivered via API integration with the email platform, up from less than 5% today, report finds

IRONSCALES, the leading enterprise cloud email security platform protecting more than 10,000 global organizations, today released the findings of a study analyzing current practices and developments in business email compromise (BEC) defense. The report — Defending the Enterprise: The Latest Trends and Tactics in BEC Attacks — was conducted by Osterman Research and examines survey responses from 249 U.S.-based IT and security professionals. IRONSCALES, in partnership with Osterman Research, will also be hosting a webinar to explore the report’s findings. The webinar, Enterprises vs. BEC: Strategies, Technologies, and Trends, will be held on March 16, 2023, at 3:00 p.m. ET.

Among the report’s key findings is that the threat of BEC is growing year over year and is projected to be twice as high as the threat of phishing in general. Over 93% of organizations experienced one or more of the BEC attack variants in the previous 12 months, with 62% facing three or more attack variants over this time. 

What’s more, 43.3% of respondents from large enterprises (≥10,000 employees) expect these BEC attacks to increase over the next 12 months. The report also goes on to reveal that finance employees and C-level executives are the two groups subject to the most frequent BEC attacks. However, roughly half of all groups reported experiencing BEC attacks either daily, weekly, or monthly. 

Other key findings include: 

  • Fake invoices, data theft, and account takeover (ATO) are the most common types of BEC attacks: One in five organizations have experienced these types of BEC attacks in the past 12 months. Two in three organizations have faced three or more types of BEC attacks over this time. Data theft attacks occur with the highest frequency.

  • More organizations should be using AI-powered anti-phishing tools to protect against BEC attacks: The technology with the most to offer for detecting and remediating BEC attacks that SEGs miss or classify as safe, is AI-powered anti-phishing tools, although only 55% of organizations are currently using such tools.

  • Threat actors are utilizing new channels (also known as “precursors”) to launch BEC attacks: A significant percentage of organizations report frequently encountering newer precursors to BEC attacks, including: fraudulent SMS messages (36%), social media connection requests (28%), and phone calls (22%). Organizations with strong BEC protections that work only in email will be blind to the use of these new attack channels.

  • Most organizations fail to utilize the most effective training methods: Most respondents find multiple educational methods valuable for detecting BEC attacks, with phishing simulations as the top priority (74%). However, confidence in detection remains low, below 50% for all groups, and only 35% on average for typical employees.

“The findings of this report should leave no doubt as to the scope and severity of today’s business email compromise problem,” said Audian Paxson, Director of Technical Product Marketing at IRONSCALES. “And yet, we find that many organizations remain ill-equipped to defend against this rising threat. The continued reliance on legacy email security solutions, such as SEGs, places organizations at significant risk. This report drives home the need for organizations to re-examine their approach to BEC security, by incorporating AI-enabled solutions that work in concert with regular phishing simulation testing and security awareness training. Employees should be part of the solution, not a liability.”

IRONSCALES is the only email security solution that integrates AI and human insights to effectively combat advanced phishing attacks like BEC, account takeover (ATO), and VIP impersonation. IRONSCALES’ solution is powerful, simple, and adaptable, making it easy to implement, integrate into an organization’s tech stack, and manage without requiring security expertise. 

To read the full report, click here. Those interested in attending the webinar on March 16, 2023, can register here

IRONSCALES is the leading cloud email security platform for the enterprise and the industry’s only solution that uses AI and human insights (HI) to stop advanced phishing. Its award-winning, self-learning platform continuously detects and remediates attacks like BEC, ATO, and VIP impersonation that bypass traditional security solutions. Powerful, simple, and adaptive, IRONSCALES helps enterprises reduce risk, boost security team efficiency, and increase cybersecurity awareness. IRONSCALES is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and is proud to support more than 10,000 global enterprises. Visit http://www.ironscales.com or @IRONSCALES to learn more.


Media Contact:

Anya Nelson
Scratch Marketing & Media for IRONSCALES