BEC Attacks: Can Your Traditional Email Security Solution Stop Them?

With businesses using email more than ever, traditional email security solutions aren't enough to stop business email compromise attacks. Human error is a major issue facing many businesses. Even the most sophisticated employee makes mistakes when handling operations related to email functions.

Most business email compromise attackers often bypass email security and deliver phishing attacks on their targets. There are missing gaps that leave businesses using this security vulnerable to attacks. Below are reasons why a traditional email security solution is insufficient to stop BEC attacks.

Active vs. passive spam filtering

Active vs. passive spam filtering

Most business owners think the basic spam filters built with the Gmail account are just enough to eliminate the BEC attackers. These traditional email security solutions often use passive filtering to determine if the email contains malicious programs or not. It would have been better to use the active spam filtering solutions, as the passive filtering solutions are not highly effective.

Business owners fail to understand that passive filtering solutions evaluate the messages sent based on predetermined parameters. This could be if the email sent has a message format or attachment with malicious programs.

The message itself is not analyzed before it's cleared. Hackers have become sophisticated and are weaponizing messages like graymail. These graymails are launched from an automated email marketing tool to pass link-based ransomware attacks through the passive email filter.

There is a need to adopt an anti-BEC technology solution to help your business filter the incoming message by itself. And active email filter solutions can achieve that easily. Active email filtering examines the message and then looks for inconsistencies in the message and the information from the sender.

Ineffective attachment sandboxing

Malicious attachments are a significant threat to any business as most of them can be designed to bypass the existing traditional email security solutions. This happens mostly with sophisticated spear phishing attacks. The attackers will just attach a weaponized Microsoft Office or PDF attachment to cause a lot of havoc to the entire network. This could be a macro in a word document that can run when the target victim opens the message to read it.

The macro will then deploy the malware program or attempt to download contents from the infected website into the recipient's systems. When the attackers infiltrate the system, they will take their time to learn about the organization's weaknesses, which will help them achieve their goals.

Sophisticated attackers will use your network as a springboard onto another company, affecting your reputation. With traditional email security solutions, countering these threats is very challenging, which is why you need several email security solutions with attachment sandboxing as part of your defense. With the advanced technology, you need attachment sandboxing solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to evaluate all the email attachments.

With an effective attachment sandboxing solution, you can use your email account safely. You are highly protected from business email compromise attacks. These potentially harmful files will be opened within an isolated virtual environment. As a result, none of the infected emails will be able to affect your business.

Human error

The human error element is incredibly vital in preventing BEC attacks. Most of the BEC attacks can be attributed to human error. With other vulnerabilities of traditional email security solutions, it becomes very challenging to thwart hackers from infiltrating the business system.

The endpoint security of traditional email security solutions can catch a few threats before they take any foothold within a network. Though, most malicious threats are launched by careless and simple human actions.

These careless actions can even allow email-based threats to bypass the endpoint security systems and cause a lot of harm to the business system. Great email solutions should ensure that the malicious messages rarely see the inbox of the business, taking human error virtually out of the security equation.

While it's vital to provide the necessary education and training to the employees, nothing can beat using technology that will eliminate human action in preventing BEC threats. You need to remember that the attackers will keep trying depending on how bigger the target you are to them. Employees should be trained on basic things like the importance of not registering or logging into various places like movie streaming sites or document conversion sites with the official ID.

Hackers are getting extremely creative

Hackers are getting extremely creative

Most hackers are extremely creative and have developed great programs that bypass most traditional email security solutions. Most of them are not limited to guessing passwords to your Gmail account, and they can achieve that quickly if you don't change your password regularly. They will use social engineering tactics to analyze your activities over the internet.

Social engineering can be totally out of your control not unless you receive security updates that will improve the security of your Gmail account. If the password to the account is too complex, the attackers will just crack it and then call your email hosting service pretending to be you.

If the attackers convince the service provider, that will be a devastating data breach. The hacker will then change the password to your email account and log you out of the account. If you think that hosting service providers have policies that cater to these actions, you will be surprised to know that this is not usually the case across the board.

For the attackers to trick one of the employees into giving them the email password, they will need to have sensitive information to help convince the employees. Attackers are pros at harvesting information, and the wider your business's digital footprint, the more vulnerable your systems are without great security policies. Once the BEC attackers get hold of vital information, the game is over.


The traditional email security features are ineffective in protecting the business against BEC attacks. They can only achieve very little and are ineffective for fast-growing businesses.

Some top reasons traditional email security solutions are ineffective include lack of active spam filtering, ineffective attachment sandboxing, human error, and hackers' extreme creativity.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply