Gartner’s 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security provides a comprehensive overview of the latest trends and advancements in the field. One area that has gained significant attention is Business Email Compromise (BEC). According to the Gartner 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security, BEC attacks have surged in the last 2 years and “as generative AI advances, corporations will prioritize BEC.”

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This blog post will delve into the key takeaways from the Hype Cycle regarding BEC and its implications for businesses.

Understanding Business Email Compromise

BEC is a sophisticated type of cyber attack where malicious actors impersonate trusted entities to misdirect funds or data. Unlike phishing attacks, BEC attacks typically have a good sender reputation and do not include URLs or attachments, making them harder to detect with traditional security systems. 

The Gartner 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security report notes that “BEC protection, which uses machine learning to perform a deep inspection of the email content, is now in the early mainstream phase of adoption, indicating its growing importance in the cybersecurity landscape.”

Challenges and Losses Attributed to BEC

BEC attacks pose unique challenges due to their sophisticated nature. They are text-only emails, sent from a known entity, and contain no malicious payload, making them highly evasive and difficult to detect with traditional security measures. Cyber attackers often leverage spoofed domains and compromised accounts (ATO)  to be perceived as legitimate by employees, tricking them into transferring money or sharing sensitive information.

The losses attributed to BEC attacks are substantial. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center report (IC3), in 2023 alone, BEC attacks led to $2.9 billion in damages, surpassing even ransomware. This figure represents a significant increase from $1.86 billion in 2020, highlighting the growing threat of BEC attacks.

Moreover, the impact of BEC attacks extends beyond financial losses. They can lead to reputation damage, loss of trust, and the leakage of confidential or private information. As BEC attacks become more prevalent and sophisticated, businesses must prioritize implementing robust BEC protection measures to mitigate these risks.

Main Obstacles as Noted in the Report 

  • Many organizations may choose to explore lower-cost and less effective alternatives to BEC protection such as user education, only minimally reducing the risk of BEC and delaying its adoption.
  • Even the most effective solutions are less than 100% effective. As attackers’ techniques evolve to utilize generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT, solutions focused on BEC may lose sight of the latest practices used. 
  • A key issue to address and mitigate is that account takeover attacks are almost impossible to detect, especially when attackers have credentialed access. This can increase the risk of attackers’ knowledge of organizational behavior and the ability to hide their tracks.
  • BEC capabilities are likely to be absorbed into comprehensive email security solutions in the future. Therefore, leaders will need to determine if it is wise to invest in standalone BEC protection tools now.

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Our 3 Key Takeaways from the Gartner 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security

1. The Rising Importance of BEC Protection: The Hype Cycle highlights that BEC attacks have surged in the last two years, with almost 40% of ransomware attacks also originating through email. This emphasizes the need for businesses to invest in advanced BEC protection tools that can effectively detect and filter these sophisticated attacks.

2. The Role of User Education and Authentication: Gartner emphasizes the importance of educating users about BEC and phishing techniques, but it is not enough. We believe that security leaders should select modern threat prevention solutions that detect not only BEC attacks but also all other advanced attacks, and intercept them before they reach the end-user. 

The report also recommends enforcing the use of multifactor authentication (MFA) for accessing email to protect all users against account takeover.

3. Future-Proofing Your BEC Protection Strategy: As cyber threats evolve, so too must our defenses. The Hype Cycle points out that as attackers’ techniques evolve to utilize generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT, solutions focused on BEC may lose sight of the latest practices used. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the efficacy of your current email security solutions and ensure that they deliver advanced phishing protection specifically designed for BEC attacks.

Looking Ahead

The Gartner 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security notes “BEC capabilities are likely to be absorbed into comprehensive email security solutions in the future. Therefore, leaders will need to determine if it is wise to invest in BEC protection tools now.” 

Should this be a consideration when Business Email Compromise attacks are already causing significant damage to an organization? And now BEC and Phishing attacks are being “supercharged” with GenAI (particularly LLMs), which allows cyber criminals to work quicker, and on a much larger scale than ever before, finding a comprehensive and effective solution is crucial. 

Security leaders must better prepare themselves and take the necessary steps to protect their data, reputation, and money.

Perception Point: A Leader in BEC Protection

Recognized in the the Gartner 2023 Hype Cycle for Endpoint Security for its BEC protection, Perception Point offers AI-powered and multi-layered detection designed to stop BEC and impersonation attacks, the fastest-growing and costliest social engineering threats. 

Perception Point’s Advanced Email Security leverages a multitude of proprietary ML algorithms and AI LLM models to prevent BEC and impersonation techniques, including CEO Fraud, Vendor Email Compromise, Due Invoices, Thread Hijack, and more. The solution deeply understands the organization’s business relationships and communication patterns, while advanced content-analysis algorithms recognize anomalies and identify evasion maneuvers aimed to trick the end-users into wrongfully paying or disclosing sensitive data.

Key Features of Perception Point’s BEC Protection:

1. Supply-Chain Recognition: Perception Point’s solution analyzes business communications to automatically identify the domains of the organization’s business partners, trusted vendors, etc.

2. GenAI Decoder™: LLM-based model recognizes the unique patterns in AI-generated text produced by platforms like ChatGPT, Google Bard, WormGPT, etc., and detects any social engineering attempt.

3. Content & Anomaly Analysis: Advanced Natural Language Processing algorithms extract sensitive content (PII), recognize entities (NER), analyze email metadata, identify changes in tone and sentiment associated with fraud, and undo textual-evasion techniques.

4. Advanced Anti-Spoofing: Perception Point offers laser-focused engines against spoofing attacks, domain lookalike, and thread hijacking attempts, including IP reputation, SPF, DKIM and DMARC record checks, and domain-correlation algorithms.

5. 24/7 Managed Incident Response: An all-included service where a team of cybersecurity experts manage incidents, continuously optimize the platform’s detection engines, create new AI/ML algorithms on the fly, and hunt for false positives around the clock.

Read More about Perception Point’s BEC Prevention

Check out our latest BEC White Paper

See the latest BEC attacks that we’ve intercepted

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