Ransomware May Lead to Wire Transfer Fraud Business

KnowBe4 issued a warning about a new scam using ransomware to target high level business executives. The threat is being called a “Business E-Mail Compromise” (BEC) by the FBI and leads to a version of a man-in-the-middle scam that targets a company’s CEO, CTO, CFO, and/or Controller. The C-level exec receives a business email from an existing, well-known vendor requesting a wire transfer to a specific bank account. The email looks legit, comes from a known, trusted business associate and is about a recent delivery or transaction.

Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4’s CEO said, “This attack is particularly insidious. By the time the request comes in, the bad guys have already penetrated your network and have been monitoring and studying what went on for considerable time. They can accurately identify the individuals and protocols to perform wire transfers within your specific business environment.”

In the last 14 months there have been 1198 victims within the U.S resulting in a loss of $180 million dollars. The wire transfers get rapidly forwarded and usually wind up at banks in Hong Kong. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) cited China and Hong Kong as the most commonly reported ending destination for the fraudulent transfers.

The IC3 alert said, "Victims may also first receive phishing e-mails requesting additional details of the business or individual being targeted (name, travel dates, etc.) Some victims reported being a victim of various scareware or ransomware cyber intrusions, immediately preceding a BEC scam request."

Sjouwerman suggests IT managers take the following precautionary steps:

  1. “Alert your execs. These scams are getting more sophisticated by the month, so be on the lookout.
  2. Grab this free Social Engineering Red Flags PDF, print and laminate it, and give it to your C-level execs.
  3. Read the IC3 Alert in full, and apply their ‘Suggestions for Protection.’
  4. Step employees through an effective program to prevent social engineering attacks like this from getting through. “
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