How a Simple Email Request Could Threaten Your Business Operations

Most business leaders are already familiar with some of the most common cybersecurity threats within the marketplace. Examples include malware, spyware, and failing to implement an antivirus program. Another risk has also become increasingly concerning. This involves the use of a valid email to directly attack the operations of your business.  

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The Rise of “Smart” Phishing 
Phishing has existed since the dawn of the Internet and some tactics are more popular with cybercriminals than others. Business email compromise in particular causes cybersecurity professionals a great deal of concern. What does this method involve and why is it so dangerous? Let’s take a look at the basics.
It is important to clarify the associated terminology before moving on. This cyber attack does not normally involve any embedded spyware, malware, or viruses. It is much more insidious. These messages instead originate from dedicated email addresses that have become compromised. A typical example could come in the form of an internal communication from a superior. The messages themselves appear to be valid. This makes it more likely that the recipient will take some form of action. Examples include: 

  • Providing otherwise restricted login details. 
  • Being asked to transfer money from an internal business account. 
  • Requesting the personal tax information of other employees. 

An even greater sense of obligation may occur if the email appears to have been sent from a superior within the organisation.  

Telltale Signs that an Email Has Become Compromised 
Is it possible to detect this type of cybersecurity threat? The answer to this question is based on the awareness of the recipient. For example, an extraordinary or strange request could indicate an issue.

There are also times when unfamiliar payments are requested. Transfers that do not adhere to standard protocols may be another indication that an email has become hacked. This is equally true if the message is extremely urgent (such as recommending immediate action). Here are some other warning signs: 

  • Emails that appear to have been written by a “bot” or that have many grammatical errors. 
  • Sender addresses that do not match the standard email (also known as “reply-to” addresses). 
  • Messages suggesting that the recipient does not contact any coworkers. 

So, what steps can businesses take? 

An Ounce of Prevention Goes a Long Way 
Employee awareness is important when dealing with these attacks. The subtle signs mentioned above can be difficult to spot until damage has occurred. In-house training is critical.

Businesses should also follow predetermined protocols when performing specific actions. One examples includes transferring money between accounts. Any deviation from these methods will lead to a “red flag”. The company can then take the appropriate action. Employees can also be alerted to any suspicious activity.

The only issue is that many businesses do not possess the in-house resources to tackle these emerging threats. Partnering with a third-party cybersecurity firm is often the best solution. Cybercriminals are becoming more innovative. Thinking outside of the box has never been more relevant. 



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