What is Business Email Compromise?

business email compromise

Rather than fooling many people through a general pretext, the business email compromise attack is targeted directly at a single person or small group of people. Read on to understand and define business email compromise

Business Email Compromise (BEC): Overview

Business email compromise (BEC), a type of fraud, preys on companies that employ wire transfers and have overseas suppliers. Keyloggers or business email compromise phishing attacks are used to pose as executives or high-level employees involved in finance or wire transfer payments, compromise their corporate or publicly accessible email accounts, or both, in order to conduct fraudulent transfers that result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses. Business email compromise attacks caused losses to organizations globally of $140,000 on average in 2016.

BEC attackers commonly deploy social engineering methods, also referred to as “Man-in-the-Email” frauds, to trick naive executives and employees. They frequently pose as the CEO or another executive who has access to wire transfers. Fraudsters also meticulously research and monitor the organizations of their intended victims. Business email compromise scams depend on the attacker’s ability to appear to be a powerful insider or reliable outside partner. There are several methods an attacker could achieve this, including:

  • Domain Spoofing: The email protocol (SMTP) does not by default include email address verification. This means that an attacker can make an email appear to have been sent by a reputable vendor or someone within the company by forging the display name and sender address, leading to dmarc email spoofing
  • Lookalike Domains: Lookalike domains are created to profit from readily misunderstood characters. For instance, the similarity between the domains company could dupe someone not paying attention to.com and cornpany.com.
  • Compromised Accounts: A BEC attack can be carried out via a compromised account if the attacker has access to it. That the email is genuinely coming from a reliable address lends it more legitimacy.

A BEC attack uses an email account that appears to be real to deceive the receiver into doing anything. The most typical aim of a BEC cybersecurity attack is to persuade the target into sending money to the assailant while thinking they are carrying out a legal, approved business transaction.

Attacks That Involve Business Email Compromise (BEC)

There are five types of business email compromise or assaults, according to the FBI, including:

  • False Invoice Scam: In this type of attack, the phisher poses as a vendor who needs to be paid for services rendered to the business. This kind of attack frequently uses a realistic template, impersonates one of an organization’s true suppliers, then modifies the bank account information to point to the attackers’ own account.
  • CEO fraud: CEO fraud exploits the balance of power inside an organization. The attacker will send an email purporting to be from the CEO telling the recipient what to do. Sending confidential information to a partner may be one way to “seal a deal” or initiate a wire transfer.
  • Account Compromise: A compromised account A BEC assault takes the use of a company email account that has been compromised. With this access, the attacker can ask clients for payment on invoices while modifying the payment information to his or her own.
  • Attorney impersonation: This kind of assault takes advantage of the fact that low-level workers in an organization are more likely to comply with demands from a lawyer or other legal representative since they are unsure of how to verify the request. This tactic frequently presents the request as urgent and private to avoid independent verification.
  • Data Theft: Attacks of this nature aim to steal private data about employees of a company from HR and financial staff. Then, this data may be used to plan and carry out upcoming attacks or sold on the Dark Web.

How Do BEC Assaults Operate?

In a BEC scam, the perpetrator assumes the identity of someone the victim should be able to trust, usually a coworker, boss, or vendor. To make a wire transfer, or divert payroll, the sender makes change to banking information for upcoming payments and other requests.

BEC assaults don’t involve malware or malicious URLs that conventional cyber defenses can evaluate, making them difficult to spot. BEC assaults instead use social engineering methods like impersonation and others to deceive those working as the attacker’s agents. 

Many impersonation strategies, including domain spoofing and lookalike domains, are used in BEC schemes. Because of the complexity of domain misuse, these assaults are successful. It’s challenging enough to stop domain spoofing; it’s far more challenging to foresee every prospective lookalike domain. And when more domains belonging to external partners are exploited in BEC attacks to prey on consumers’ confidence, the challenge only grows.

In EAC, the attacker takes over a valid email account and launches attacks akin to those used in business email compromise in 2022. But in these situations, the attacker isn’t merely pretending to be someone; in reality, the attacker is that person.

BEC and EAC require a people-centric defense that can stop, identify, and react to a variety of BEC and EAC approaches since they concentrate on human fragility rather than technical flaws, including DMARC pricing.

Tips for Preventing BEC Attacks

A successful BEC attack might cost a business a lot of money and cause important harm. However, these attacks can be thwarted by using a few straightforward BEC fraud protection and email security measures, such as:

  • Protections Against Phishing: Since BEC emails are a form of phishing, using anti-phishing solutions is crucial to avoid them. An anti-phishing solution and business email compromise prevention should be able to recognize the red flags of BEC emails, such as reply-to addresses that do not match sender addresses. It should also be able to employ machine learning to evaluate email language for signs of an attack.
  • Employee Education: Because BEC assaults target employees, cybersecurity training on email security awareness is essential. In order to reduce the threat posed by this type of phishing, it is crucial that workers receive training on how to recognize and respond to a BEC attack.
  • Separation of Duties: BEC assaults aim to persuade employees to submit money or sensitive information without first confirming the request, for example, or to take other high-risk actions. The likelihood of a successful assault can be reduced by implementing policies for these acts that demand independent verification from a second employee.
  • Labeling External Emails: Domain spoofing or lookalike domains are frequently used in BEC attacks to impersonate internal email addresses. This strategy can be countered by configuring email clients to identify emails from outside the company as external, hence focusing on dmarc security.


A form of cybercrime known as business email compromise (BEC) involves a scammer using an email to coerce a victim into sending money or disclosing sensitive company information. The perpetrator assumes the identity of a reliable person and then demands payment for a bogus bill or access to private information for another scam. Because of an increase in remote labour, BEC scams are on the rise; the FBI received over 20,000 BEC reports last year.

A strong BEC with GoDMARC protects all the channels that attackers use for their attacks/EAC defense. These comprise user behaviour, cloud apps, business email, personal webmail, email from partners in business, your web domain, and corporate email.


Q1. Who is in charge of a business email compromise?

A company may be held legally liable for the loss that the client has endured if its email or IT systems have been compromised and that has resulted in an invoice being altered.

Q2. What takes place if you open a hacked email?

Your data won’t be compromised if you simply open the phishing message without taking any further action. Even if all you did was open the email, hackers can still learn some information about you. They’ll use this information against you to develop future cyberattacks that are more specifically targeted.

Q3. How did my email become insecure?

One of four approaches was most likely used to compromise your computer: You don’t have installed security software that is current. Your passwords are flimsy and simple to crack. In an email, IM discussion, social networking site, or website, you clicked on a malicious link.

Q4. How can cybercriminals obtain your email address?

Your email password may have been compromised due to a data breach by hackers. If you use the same password for many accounts, a hacker could access all of them if one account is hacked. Passwords are occasionally purchased by hackers from cybercriminals on the dark web following successful data breaches.

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