It’s important that we meet to discuss spear-phishing attacks over business communications. We need to make a plan about this IMMEDIATELY. Please click on the link [uurl.callender.com] to make an appointment with IT for a quick tutorial.
There are several things wrong with this email, and hopefully, you noticed them. All are red flags you can look for to avoid fake meeting requests or calendar-invite scams.
Business Email Communication (BEC) scams are not new. For example:
- Facebook and Google suffered a $121 million BEC scam.
- Ubiquiti lost $46.7 million to an attack.
- Toyota transferred $37 million to crooks in a BEC snafu.
BEC attacks are a lucrative scam. In 2021, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received 19,954 Business Email Compromise reports, with adjusted losses totaling almost $2.4 billion. But beyond money, falling victim to a BEC attack also wastes an organization’s time and damages its reputation. Here’s what to look for and how to protect yourself against BEC scammers.
How BEC Scams Work
With many more people working from home and meeting virtually, there’s been an uptick in BEC spear-phishing attacks (also known as targeted phishing attacks).
On Gmail, the bad actor needs only your email address to send an invite that adds to your calendar by default. Then, you might click on what appears to be a meeting link, which actually takes you to a malware site.
Zoom has also become an attack vector. You get an invite to a meeting that asks you to login into Microsoft Outlook. You’ve done it so many times before, except this is a fake login page, and it’s set up to steal your access credentials.
How To Protect Against BEC Scams
Educate your users. As with any other type of email scam, users need to learn to be careful about the links they click. Some indicators to look for, which you can see in our opening example, include:
- spelling mistakes;
- urgent appeals;
- poor phrasing;
- suspicious links.
Email addresses, links, and domain name inconsistencies are more bad signs. Plus, be wary if something seems too good to be true (a free laptop?) or is an unusual request (transfer $1 million from the CEO’s account).
Google Calendar users can go into General settings, then Event settings, and switch off “Automatically add invitations.” Instead, select “No, only show invitations to which I have responded.” Also, under Events from Gmail, you can stop calendar events auto-generating based on your inbox. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll also be blocking legitimate events.
In these days of the hybrid workforce, we’re used to clicking on links from Zoom, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office as part of our daily workflow. The cyber bad guys know this and are taking advantage of it. Unsubscribing from email lists, keeping your email private, and reporting spam to IT can all help.
Your business might also benefit from working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to use a third-party spam filter. An MSP can also review your cybersecurity posture and identify areas to improve your defenses.