Secure Your Accounts From Email Reply Chain Attacks

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email reply chain attacks

As technology has grown incredibly sophisticated over time, so have phishing schemes and cybercriminal tactics.

A report by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows that Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud has resulted in companies incurring financial losses greater than $5 billion globally.

As BEC attacks become increasingly prevalent, the emerging threat of hacked email reply chains is being posed to organizations of all shapes and sizes.

What exactly does this latest form of scamming imply? Cybercriminals begin by gaining access to a legitimate email address, through compromised credentials or other means.

They strategically monitor and investigate historical email correspondences (e.g., technical conversations, transactions, and negotiations), to figure out an opportune time to intervene and impersonate the hacked user.

The threat actor then inserts malware attachments or vicious links within the email conversation, exposing all participants to detrimental cyber infections and security breaches.

What is most concerning about this scenario is that, above all, a shrewdly crafted reply chain hack appears credible. In this case, false credibility can be lethal for your firm’s IT and data security.

The reality of email hijacks

The real danger lies in the authenticity of the attack. In addition to the convincing email presentation (e.g., correct address, logo, signatures), the hacker seems to be a trusted sender by using the victim’s genuine account.

The pre-established relationship of trust between the correspondents also enables the attacker to astutely tailor the email attack, making them highly believable and plausible.

Compared to other forms of BEC, reply chain attacks lack blatant warning signals.

Unlike mass spoofing emails littered with grammatical errors or obviously suspicious targeted spear phishing, this new threat rarely appears out of the ordinary to even the most prudent and adequately trained employee.

Prevention and protection with Wingman Solutions

Such an advanced threat may seem unidentifiable and insurmountable.

To nurture cybersecurity for small businesses and to promote a more security-conscious environment within your organization, we recommend onboarding a Managed Service Provider (MSP), like Wingman Solutions to your team.

With our leadership and technical expertise, we can design a customized IT architecture for your company to minimize social engineering while exercising control over your IT environment to pinpoint and significantly reduce threat actors.

We’re just the folks you want to talk to!

Our IT security solutions are here to help.

To counteract and thwart email reply chain attacks, Wingman Solutions can help your business adopt the following techniques and recommendations:

Implement email best practices

Insecure email accounts primarily trigger the domino effect of email chain hijacks. To avoid a compromised email, ensure that every account is secured with multi-factor authentication or secure password managers.

Every employee should be encouraged to learn about and monitor their own mailing rules and email client settings.

Update systems routinely

Develop a consistent schedule to update all of your operating systems, software, and applications (including all Microsoft Office applications) to make your cyber environment secure.

Eliminate all macros

Since macros are a frequent vector for malware, ensure that employees are prohibited from turning on macros.

Macros are especially prevalent for Microsoft Office files with hidden content; thus, proceed with caution whenever opening new documents.

Use a reliable endpoint detection & response (EDR) solution

An integrated and modernized EDR platform is used to identify and investigate email hack incidents as they arise. This automated response will halt the execution of malware within the hijacked email.

Educate your organization

Most importantly, train your employees on how to be diligent when verifying the legitimacy of a sender, link, and/or attachment.

Often, suspicion can be confirmed or denied personally (e.g., via the phone, platforms like Skype or LinkedIn, or in-person contact).

Also, providing your staff with educational IT resources and making user awareness training mandatory can be immensely valuable.

As a result, when it comes to email chain reply attacks, extreme vigilance will never fail your organization.

As cybersecurity threats grow in size and complexity, you will not regret placing the health and security of your company’s IT systems in the hands of the experts at Wingman Solutions.

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