Navigating Business Email Compromise (BEC) in the Era of the Remote Worker

Author: Tom Cottrill | Date Posted: Apr 29, 2021

Over the past five years, there has been a 44% growth in the number of people working remotely. And while this trend would have continued to rise on its own, COVID-19 caused these figures to skyrocket at a rapid pace.

With a remote workforce comes new and unprecedented challenges for companies. In fact, as of April 2020, 67% of organizations reported an increase in spend on web conferencing software. Companies are also relying more heavily on cloud-based services for email, data, storage, and more.

So, how confident are you that your sensitive emails are protected? Cloud platforms for businesses are popular targets for cybercriminals. Attempts to access a company’s information can come in many forms, but most often, it’s phishing. 90% of cyberattacks begin with phishing, and it is becoming more and more challenging to spot fake links.

Other cybercriminals use ransomware to essentially hold a company’s network hostage until payment is made. A more dangerous impact to falling victim to cyberattacks is business email compromise (BEC). And yes, it’s as scary as it sounds.

What is BEC, and What Does it Mean for Remote Workforce?

Most commonly, BEC is when cybercriminals gain access to employees’ email and company credentials. Using these credentials, they can easily impersonate company employees to acquire passwords, information, and access to company funds. Not surprisingly, this type of cybercrime can account for significant loss on the part of the victim.

So, how can you protect your employees from falling victim to rising BEC crimes?

Most cloud-based emails are via Office 365 or Google Workspace. These systems have built-in security measures designed to protect companies, but sometimes it’s not enough. Companies with a large remote workforce should seriously consider adding third-party security to their existing cloud-based email services. Layered security can help catch threats before reaching employees in a proactive approach rather than a reactionary one. Two-factor authentication is another easy layer of protection for your employees and can be implemented via third-party smartphone apps.

One of the best ways to keep your company safe from cyberattacks and BEC is by educating your employees to scrutinize emails closely for:

  1. Domain or email spoofing
  2. Emails that ask for personal information
  3. Grammar or spelling errors
  4. Suspicious links and attachments
  5. Panic-driven emails

Every company is susceptible to phishing, BEC, and other cyberattacks. It’s essential to take every precaution as your company continues to operate remotely now and well into the future.

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