Email compromise attacks are on the increase as tactics shift

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Business email compromise (BEC) attacks have increased in six out of eight industries according to a new report from Abnormal Security.

The overall volume of BEC attacks increased 15 percent from Q2 to Q3, but the energy industry experienced a massive 93 percent rise.

Meanwhile the retail/consumer goods and manufacturing sector has seen a trend of decreasing social engineering BEC attacks and increasing invoice and payment fraud BEC attacks.

Interestingly attackers have shifted their focus from finance employees to group mailboxes, with attacks sent to group mailboxes increasing 212 percent from Q2 to Q3. Invoice and payment fraud that seeks to leverage the fear, uncertainty and doubt of the pandemic proved popular too, increasing by 81 percent.

Evan Reiser, CEO and co-founder of Abnormal Security says, "Understanding who is being targeted during BEC campaigns is critically important to tuning email defenses and conducting tailored security awareness training. In Q3, we saw a change in the trend toward finance employees being the primary targets, illustrating how attackers constantly shift their tactics. While invoice and payment fraud continues to increase, threat actors have shifted their focus from the C-suite to individual finance employees and now to group mailboxes."

Among other findings, the most impersonated brands have seen a return to the pre-pandemic position. In Q3, Zoom dropped away from the top spot to be replaced by DHL, followed by Dropbox and Amazon. Rounding out the top five are iCloud and LinkedIn.

Across all industries, the average weekly rate of social engineering BEC campaigns, which impersonate an internal party, dropped by 38 percent, while the rate of campaigns impersonating an external partner increased by 21 percent.

The full report is available on the Abnormal Security site.

Image credit: Georgejmclittle / Shutterstock

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