CEO fraud is a type of cybercrime in which the attacker impersonates a CEO or other company executive. The fraudster will most often use the CEO’s email account — or an email address that looks very similar to the CEO’s — to trick an employee into transferring them money.
That means that, like other types of Business Email Compromise (BEC), CEO fraud attacks are very difficult for employees and legacy solutions like SEGs to spot. But, there are still ways to prevent successful CEO fraud attacks.
The key? Take a more holistic approach by combining training, policies, and technology.
If you want to learn more about BEC before diving into CEO fraud, you can check out this article: Business Email Compromise: What it is and How it Happens. You can also get an introduction to CEO Fraud in this article: What is CEO Fraud?
Security is everyone’s responsibility. That means everyone – regardless of department or role – must understand what CEO fraud looks like. Using real-world examples to point out common red flags can help.
It’s important to point out the lack of spelling errors. Poor spelling and grammar can be a phishing indicator, but this is increasingly unlikely among today’s more sophisticated cybercrime environment.
Also, notice the personal touches — Sam’s familiar tone, his references to Kat working from home, and his casual email sign-off. Fraudsters go to great efforts to research their subjects and their targets, whether via hacking or simply using publicly available information.
These persuasive elements aside, can you spot the red flags? Let’s break them down:
Your cybersecurity staff training program should educate employees on how to recognize CEO fraud, and what to do if they detect it.
Looking for a resource that you can share with your employees? We put together an infographic outlining how to spot a spear phishing email.
While these are important lessons for your employees, there’s only so much you can achieve via staff training. Humans are often led by emotion, and they’re not good at spotting the small giveaways that might reveal a fraudulent email. Sometimes, even security experts can’t!
More on this here: Pros and Cons of Phishing Awareness Training.
Beyond staff training, every thriving company takes an all-round approach to cybersecurity that minimizes the risk of serious fallout from an attack.
Here are some important security measures that will help protect your company’s assets and data from CEO fraud:
All the above points are crucial cybersecurity controls. But let’s take a closer look at that final point — email security solutions.
Because CEO fraud attacks overwhelmingly take place via email (along with 96% of all phishing attacks), installing email security software is one of the most effective steps you can take to prevent this type of cybercrime.
But not just any email security solution.
Legacy solutions like SEGs and spam filters and Microsoft and Google’s native tools generally can’t spot sophisticated attacks like CEO fraud. Why? Because they rely almost entirely on domain authentication and payload inspection. Social engineering attacks like CEO fraud easily evade these mechanisms.
Tessian is different.
Tessian Defender uses machine learning (ML), anomaly detection, behavioral analysis, and natural language processing (NLP) to detect a variety of signals indicative of CEO fraud.
Click here to learn more about how Tessian Defender protects your team from CEO fraud and other email-based cybersecurity attacks. You can also explore our customer stories to see how they’re using Tessian Defender to protect their people on email and prevent social engineering attacks like CEO Fraud.