What Is Vendor Email Compromise and How Can You Protect Against It?

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What Is Vendor Email Compromise and How Can You Protect Against It?

To some degree, all companies depend on email. Email-based assaults on organizations are therefore a potent weapon for hackers. They are especially tough to defend against since just one person in a firm has to connect with and fall for them.

The most apparent are phishing emails. An employee is prompted to click on a link during a phishing assault, and their password is stolen as a result. However, firms must also be on the lookout for increasingly sophisticated threats.

Vendor Email Compromise (VEC) is a novel assault that is based on compromised company emails. So, what exactly is it and how does it work?

What Is Business Email Compromise?

Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks are often carried out by impersonating high-level personnel. The attacker initially learns enough about a company to figure out who works there. This isn’t difficult since firms often post this information online.

The attacker establishes an email account that contains the CEO’s name and emails an employee pretending to be that person. After then, the employee will be required to make an urgent bank transfer. The email will have a believable justification for doing so as well as a feeling of urgency.

The assault is based on the reality that workers often transfer for fear of being fired or experiencing other penalties.

What Is Vendor Email Compromise?

BEC attacks include VEC attacks. They particularly target merchants, as opposed to regular BEC scams. Vendors often deal with a diverse range of firms. If an attacker can successfully mimic a vendor, they can steal from all of those businesses.

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VEC attacks need more effort and take longer to execute. However, depending on the vendor’s size, earnings might be much greater.

While an employee may be perplexed as to why their employer suddenly wants them to make a significant bank transfer, it is common for a vendor to make this request in the form of an invoice. A VEC assault will often target numerous firms, but a BEC attack would only target one.

How Does VEC Work?

There are several variants of vendor email compromise, and the amount of work required is determined by the size of the vendor and the possible pay-off. However, most VEC assaults comprise the following steps.

Phishing Against the Vendor

A successful VEC attack starts with an effort to get access to email accounts linked with a vendor. This is often accomplished by sending phishing emails to company staff. If an employee permits their credentials to be taken, the attacker will be able to enter their account and launch the attack.

Learning About the Vendor

Once the credentials are obtained, the attacker may access the employee’s email and learn more about the organization and its clients. The attacker must understand how often bills are delivered, what they look like, and to whom they are sent.

Typically, at this stage, the attacker forwards all emails from the genuine account to their own. This helps them to maintain track of the company without having to log into the account again. This is crucial since the knowledge needed to carry out the assault might take weeks to get, and they can remain undetected.

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After gathering enough information on the seller, the attacker might try to impersonate them. The attacker might use the vendor’s email address, which they already know. Alternatively, they might establish a new email account that is similar to the vendor’s.

They will then call clients and ask for hefty bank transactions. The scammer now learns how valid emails seem and what kind of transfer requests make sense. This enables them to produce incredibly lifelike emails.

Many companies will pay the invoice without demanding proof.

What Happens if You Are a Victim of VEC?

The breach of vendor email impacts two parties: the corporation and its customers.

While the vendor’s reputation may suffer, they do not lose money directly to the attackers. Their email accounts are hacked, and the information obtained is utilized to steal money from others.

Customers are the prime targets of this assault. The amount they lose is determined on how much they regularly pay the seller and if the attacker is capable of convincing them to send more. Because the attackers are anonymous, recovering the money is frequently difficult.

How to Protect Against VEC

Customers and suppliers may both defend themselves against VEC attacks by boosting staff training and modifying how emails are viewed.

Train Employees to Identify Fraudulent Emails

This form of assault becomes substantially more difficult if both the vendor’s and their customers’ staff are taught to spot bogus emails. All staff should be aware of the phishing danger.

Any email containing an invoice should be subjected to further examination before payment is made. The emails sent to the vendor’s customers are often realistic and delivered on schedule. They may still be discovered, though, since the email address does not match or the payment is requested to a different bank account.

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Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Phishing may be avoided using two-factor authentication (2FA). Once added to an account, no one can log in unless they have access to the 2FA device.

This avoids VEC attacks because even if an employee gives the attacker their password, the attacker will be unable to use it.

Vender Email Compromise Is an Important Threat to Understand

A new sort of corporate email breach that all suppliers and their customers should be aware of is vendor email compromise. It is especially troublesome for organizations that often spend large quantities of money to their suppliers—but sellers should also be mindful of the possible harm to their image.

VEC, like other email-based assaults, focuses on corporate personnel’ inability to recognize bogus communications. It may therefore be avoided with greater training. Simple yet efficient.

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