Best PracticesImplementing Security Solutions

What is Business Email Compromise (BEC)?

Business email compromise (BEC), also known as email fraud, is one of cybersecurity’s costliest and least understood threats.

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Protecting the Enterprise Workforce

Business email compromise (BEC), also known as email fraud, is one of cybersecurity’s costliest and least understood threats.

The fast-growing category of email fraud doesn’t always garner as much attention as other high-profile cyber-crimes. But in terms of direct financial costs, BEC easily overshadows other types.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of cyberattack where cybercriminals use email fraud to deceive employees into transferring money or sensitive information. It often involves impersonating a high-ranking executive or a trusted vendor to manipulate victims. Understanding BEC and implementing security measures is crucial to protect your organization.

BEC is a sophisticated scam that targets businesses of all sizes. The attackers often conduct reconnaissance to gather information about the organization’s key personnel and processes. Once armed with this knowledge, they craft convincing emails to trick employees into taking unauthorized actions.

In BEC attacks, the attacker poses as someone the recipient should trust—typically a colleague, boss or vendor. The sender asks the recipient to make a wire transfer, divert payroll, change banking details for future payments and so on. Recipients, unaware that they’re dealing with an imposter, carry out the attacker’s instructions.

Best Practices for Protection

  • Employee Training: Educate employees about BEC tactics, including email spoofing and social engineering. Encourage skepticism when receiving unusual requests for money transfers or sensitive data.
  • Implement Email Authentication: Use technologies like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to authenticate emails and detect spoofed messages. These protocols help verify the sender’s identity and reduce the risk of BEC.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Require MFA for accessing sensitive systems or authorizing financial transactions. This extra layer of security can prevent unauthorized access even if credentials are compromised.
  • Strict Approval Processes: Establish clear procedures for verifying requests for fund transfers or confidential information. Implement dual authorization for financial transactions to prevent BEC attacks.
  • Regular Security Audits: Conduct periodic security assessments to identify vulnerabilities in email systems and processes. Address any weaknesses promptly to mitigate the risk of BEC incidents.
  • Vendor Due Diligence: Verify the authenticity of vendors and their payment instructions before processing transactions. Beware of sudden changes in payment details, as they could be signs of BEC attempts.


Business Email Compromise poses a significant threat to organizations, but with proactive measures and employee awareness, you can enhance your defenses against BEC attacks. By combining technology solutions with robust policies and training, you can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to email fraud. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and prioritize cybersecurity to safeguard your business.

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