HomeCII/OTThe Emergence of Social Engineering Fraud in Business Email Compromise

The Emergence of Social Engineering Fraud in Business Email Compromise

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Social engineering has become a pervasive tactic in cybercrime, with 90% of phishing attacks incorporating this deceptive technique. Among various types of phishing attacks, business email compromise (BEC) stands out for its heavy reliance on social engineering and manipulation of human behavior. By exploiting human vulnerabilities, social engineers can deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information or taking actions that could compromise security.

The success of social engineering lies in its ability to exploit psychological triggers and manipulate individuals into acting in ways they normally wouldn’t. Whether by creating a false sense of urgency, triggering emotional responses, or leveraging existing habits and routines, social engineers are adept at deceiving their targets. To effectively combat these attacks, organizations must familiarize themselves with common social engineering tactics and threat groups that are known for employing these deceptive techniques.

One notable threat group that utilizes social engineering tactics is Octo Tempest, a financially motivated collective of native English-speaking threat actors. This group has been observed engaging in wide-ranging campaigns that involve adversary-in-the-middle (AiTM) techniques, social engineering, and SIM-swapping capabilities. By partnering with other malicious entities like ALPHV/BlackCat, Octo Tempest has intensified the impact of its attacks, targeting organizations in the mobile telecommunications and business process outsourcing sectors.

Another threat group, Diamond Sleet, made headlines in August 2023 for conducting a software supply chain attack on a German software provider. With a history of infiltrating build environments, Diamond Sleet poses a significant risk to organizations, particularly in the context of software building, testing, and deployment processes. Similarly, Sangria Tempest (also known as FIN) has targeted the restaurant industry to steal payment card data by exploiting victims through deceptive tactics, such as sending malicious email attachments under the guise of food poisoning complaints.

In addition to these threat groups, Midnight Blizzard, a Russia-based actor, focuses on targeting governments, diplomatic entities, non-governmental organizations, and IT service providers across the US and Europe. Using Teams messages as lures, Midnight Blizzard aims to steal credentials and compromise security by engaging users and prompting them to approve multifactor authentication (MFA) prompts.

To protect against social engineering fraud, organizations must implement proactive measures, such as keeping personal and work accounts separate, enforcing the use of MFA, educating users on the risks of oversharing personal information online, and securing company devices with endpoint security software, firewalls, and email filters. By staying informed of evolving threat intelligence and maintaining robust defenses, organizations can effectively mitigate the risk of falling victim to social engineering attacks and safeguard their sensitive information from malicious actors.

Overall, the prevalence of social engineering in cyber threats underscores the critical importance of understanding and addressing these deceptive tactics to enhance cybersecurity resilience and protect against evolving threats in the digital landscape. By remaining vigilant and proactive in defending against social engineering schemes, organizations can strengthen their security posture and prevent potential breaches of trust and data compromise.

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