Home Security Business email compromise on the rise: report

Business email compromise on the rise: report

The number and and variety of email fraud, otherwise known as business email compromise, is on the rise, according to a report from security company Proofpoint, which looked at incidents in the third quarter of 2017.

The company did not specify from where it had obtained the statistics for the survey, but presumably the data came from its own clients, among whom are 50% of the Fortune 100.

"Attackers target companies of all size and in all geographies," the report said. "That was still the case in Q3. We found no statistical correlation between the size of a company and how frequently it is targeted by email fraud."

It said all industries were at risk, but organisations with more complex supply chains (such as manufacturing) and those that rely more heavily on software as a service (such as tech) are targeted more often.

Proofpoint provided the following information relating specifically to Australian organisations.

The average number of BEC emails received by an Australian organisation in the quarter was 11.27. Overall the average number of targeted attempts per organisation increased 12% over the previous quarter. And 49% of companies were targeted with more than 10 email fraud messages.

Preferred subject categories in bogus emails in Australia (see graphic below, right) were the same as for the others: Payment, Request, and Urgent.

Sixty-eight percent of Australian targets experienced at least one BEC that spoofed their own domain. This compared to 89% globally.

The fake chain tactic — where an email has what seems to be a continuing thread of messages below the content to give the impression that it is part of an ongoing discussion — was used in 8% of Australian BEC attacks. Globally, this figure was 9.5%.

The report can be downloaded here.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.