CybersecurityHow to Recognize and Prevent Business Email Compromise (BEC)

In today’s digital age, businesses heavily rely on email for communication and collaboration. However, this also makes them a prime target for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities and steal sensitive information. One of the most common attacks targeting businesses is Business Email Compromise (BEC).

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is one of the types of phishing scams. Cybercriminals impersonate a legitimate company or executive to trick employees into disclosing confidential information or making fraudulent wire transfers. According to the FBI, BEC scams have caused businesses worldwide to lose over $12 billion from 2013 to 2020.

In this guide, we will discuss how you can identify and prevent Business Email Compromise attacks. This information can help safeguard your business from potential financial losses and reputational damage.

Understanding BEC

BEC attacks involve scammers posing as company insiders, like CEOs or CFOs. Their goal is to access sensitive information or deceive employees into making fraudulent wire transfers. These attackers often research their targets thoroughly by examining public information on company websites and social media profiles. They may also compromise legitimate email accounts to make their messages seem more authentic.

Common Types of BEC

There are several types of Business Email Compromise attacks, each with a different approach to deceive their victims. Some common tactics used in BEC attacks include:

1. Unusual Requests

BEC emails often contain urgent requests for wire transfers or changes to payment instructions. Employees should exercise caution when receiving such requests, especially if they deviate from standard procedures or involve unfamiliar recipients.

2. Spoofed Email Addresses

Cybercriminals frequently spoof email addresses to mimic those of trusted colleagues, vendors, or clients. Carefully scrutinize email headers and domain names for any inconsistencies or slight variations that may indicate fraudulent activity.

3. Pressure Tactics

Phishing emails often employ urgency and pressure to compel immediate action. Employees should be wary of emails that emphasize confidentiality, threaten consequences for non-compliance, or request secrecy to avoid detection.

4. Uncharacteristic Language or Tone

BEC perpetrators may attempt to emulate the writing style and tone of the impersonated individual. However, subtle discrepancies may reveal the fraudulent nature of the communication.

5. Unusual Payment Requests

Be cautious of requests to transfer funds to unfamiliar bank accounts or payment methods that deviate from established protocols. Verify any changes to payment instructions through a separate, trusted communication channel before proceeding.

Preventing BEC Attacks

Business Email Compromise attacks can be difficult to detect and prevent. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your business:

1. Employee Training and Awareness

Educate employees about the tactics used in BEC attacks. Also, encourage a culture of skepticism towards unexpected or unusual requests received via email. Conduct regular training sessions and simulated phishing exercises to reinforce cybersecurity best practices.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implement MFA for email accounts and other sensitive systems to add an extra layer of security against unauthorized access. This requires users to provide extra verification, like a code sent to their mobile device, for logins from unfamiliar locations or devices.

3. Strict Verification Procedures

Establish robust verification processes for validating payment requests, particularly those involving significant sums or changes to account details. Require dual authorization for financial transactions and mandate the use of encrypted communication channels for transmitting sensitive information.

4. Email Filtering and Authentication

Deploy advanced email security solutions that leverage machine learning algorithms to detect and block phishing attempts in real-time. Implement email authentication protocols such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC. They can verify the authenticity of incoming messages and reduce the risk of domain spoofing.

5. Vendor and Client Verification

Verify the identities of vendors and clients before engaging in financial transactions or sharing sensitive information. Maintain up-to-date contact information and establish clear protocols for validating requests received from external parties.

6. Regular Security Audits

Conduct regular security audits and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities in your organization’s email infrastructure and IT systems. Patch known security flaws promptly and implement proactive measures to mitigate emerging threats.


Business Email Compromise attacks can cause significant financial damage and tarnish your organization’s reputation. By educating employees, implementing security measures, and conducting regular audits, you can effectively safeguard your business against BEC scams. Remember to remain vigilant and always verify unusual or suspicious requests through a trusted communication channel before taking any action. Stay informed about evolving cybersecurity threats and adapt your defenses accordingly to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Need help safeguarding your business against cyber threats? Our cybersecurity services can assist you in implementing effective security measures. Contact us today at or (877) 794-3811.

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