Agari: Business Electronic mail Compromise the Most Profitable Type of Electronic mail Attack

May 25, 2018


The Agari report was issued days after the FBI circulated figures on the cost of Internet criminality in its IC3 2017 Internet Criminality Report. The FBI notes that losses from Internet criminality have now attained highest levels, with BEC attacks only leading to $675 million in losses in 2017 – a 300% surge from 2014 figures.

BEC is a method used to deceive workers into sending an e-mail to highly confidential worker information or to make fake wire transfers to criminals’ bank accounts. The attacks involve undermining an electronic mail account of an executive and transmitting electronic mail requests to workers posturing as the account owner.

It is only lately that criminals began using BEC to attack businesses. The tendency was only known in 2016. Nevertheless, the substantial rewards when attacks succeed and the high success proportion has made the method extremely popular with cybercriminals. Previous year, BEC attacks accounted for nearly a quarter of all email-based attacks and led to the highest losses for the company of any email-based attack method.

In its report, “Behind the ‘From’ Lines: Electronic mail Scam on an International Level”, Agari describes that although governments are concentrated on nation-state attacks from the likes of China and North Korea, by far the main problem area is Africa, with 90% of all criminal electronic mail groups operating out of Nigeria.

For the report, Agari studied 59,652 electronic mails from 78 criminal electronic mail accounts and tied those accounts to social media profiles and private registrations to get insights into the actual identities of the scammers.

The report demonstrates that cybercriminal groups working out of Nigeria are extensively aiming U.S. business and BEC is the most common sort of attack. Out of 100 initial electronic mail investigations, there is a 32% reply rate and 0.37 victims for each 100 electronic mail investigations delivered.

The method is most normally used to persuade workers to make fake wire transfers, with the requests for payments ranging from $1,500 to $200,000. The typical transfer request is $35,000. “Business email compromise has become a pervasive danger — it is the most common, the most effective, and the most harmful of all of the attacks we research,” said originator and executive chairman, Agari, Patrick Peterson.

Love cheats are also common and effective. The early reply rate is 72%, with 0.13 sufferers per 100 investigations. Love cheats constitute 11% of all email-based attacks. Substantial effort is invested in these cheats and for good reason. When a sufferer is hooked, they can be extorted over many years. The report emphasizes one cybercriminal who transmitted over 1,500 messages to a sufferer over six years and achieved to get more than $500,000.

Malware is also extensively utilized in attacks on companies. The report emphasizes one cybercriminal working out of Kenya who has been aiming real estate companies, first undermining electronic mail accounts by transmitting malware-infected documents then using those accounts to carry out ATO-based escrow cheats.

Email-based attacks are extremely profitable, there is a comparatively low probability of being caught, and the attacks often need little skill to operate. The attacks will therefore not end. Nevertheless, by applying advanced electronic mail safety solutions, it is possible to obstruct the majority of electronic mail threats and considerably decrease danger.