Sophisticated threat actors, evolving phishing tactics, and a $800,000 business email compromise (BEC) scam in the second half of 2020 all signal trouble ahead, according to analysis from the Agari Cyber Intelligence Division (ACID).
After attacks on Magellan Health, GoDaddy, and the SolarWinds “hack of the decade,” one thing is distressingly clear. Phishing, BEC, and other advanced email threats continue to be one of the most effective attack vectors into organisations. And it’s getting worse.
Throughout the second half of 2020, ACID uncovered a troubling rise in eastern European crime syndicates piloting inventive forms of BEC. Indeed, the state-sponsored operatives launching attacks from pirated accounts in the SolarWinds attack were just a few of the sophisticated threat actors moving into vendor email compromise and other forms of BEC.
But in November, a sudden surge in the amount of money targeted in BEC scams could be tracked back to the resurgence of one particular source—the threat group we’ve dubbed Cosmic Lynx.
After sewing chaos with COVID 19-themed scams earlier in the year, the group’s tactics shifted toward vaccine ruses. More alarmingly, the group’s emails also started requesting recipients’ phone numbers in order to redirect the conversation. It’s unclear if the request is designed to disarm recipients or if actual phone messages or conversations are now part of the con.
The second biggest driver behind the late-year increase in the amount sought in BEC scams is a potent new pretext—capital call investment payments. Capital calls are transactions that occur when an investment or insurance firm seeks a portion of money promised by an investor for a specific investment vehicle.
In emails to targets, BEC actors masquerade as a firm requesting funds to be transferred in accordance to an investment. Because of the nature of such transactions, the payments requested are significantly higher than the average $72,044 sought in wire transfer scams during 2020. The average payout targeted in these capital call cons: $809,000.
To learn more about the latest trends in phishing, BEC scams and advanced email threats and how to stop them, request information at https://www.handd.co.uk/agari-secure-email-cloud/.