The murky world of business email compromise has changed. Hackers are becoming more and more resilient to the traditional methods of thwarting their attempts at stealing data.
Keeping data safe is critical for businesses, but for each strategy used to combat security threats another appears. In some cases, generally low skill is required to carry out attacks against infrastructures, but successful attempts could result in large payouts for the attackers.
According to the FBI 2017 Internet Crime Report, losses were reported of $13.4 billion. The top cyber crimes reported involved personal data breaches and phishing.
So what’s changed?
Over the past 12 – 18 months, the rise of email phishing has been documented across the globe. An email impersonating a business CEO, finance director or executive with a sense of urgency requests money to be sent to (usually an international) account or transfer via crypto-currency. These emails are usually short and to the point, and often look as though they have been sent from a personal email address.
Email phishing is very difficult to contain. It does require user awareness, as well as a robust anti-spam filter in place.
Malware infected emails and attachments not only have the ability infect and encrypt entire networks from one email on one PC, but also launch remote access tools and keyboard logging software.
Voice phishing is less common, but equally as devastating. A call posing as a supplier, such as the company bank may not raise too many questions. You could be advised that an urgent payment hasn’t been received. People are more likely to trust the voice of another human being, and this basic physiology is exploited during these conversations.
You may remember the Microsoft scam; an attacker posing as a Microsoft technical employee will call and advise the user that their PC has been infected by Malware. A ‘fix’ is then downloaded which is capable of stealing personal data, such as financial details from the PC.
Social media also has a role to play. Using sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allows attackers to research their targets to help improve their impersonation. Just the way users communicate on the platforms can assist attackers.
Cryptocurrency use has boomed over the last 12 months. The use of such sites as BitCoin makes it near impossible to trace accounts and once the currency has been transferred, it’s not something the target will ever see again.
So what can we do to keep our data safe?
User awareness is more important than ever. Training schedules must be in place to ensure all employees (including remote workers) are aware of their role in maintaining email security, and how to spot phishing attempts. Having the right resources in place helps employees to keep themselves, and the business safe during their working days.
An effective backup system must be tried, tested and have a frequent schedule in place (nightly preferred). Cloud based services reduces the risk of data loss, corruption or theft over the traditional hardware based backup media. An off-site backup will also provide an extra layer of security. A robust anti-virus and patch management programs should also be maintained.