Identity theft is a practice that consists in finding out about an individual to use his information against his will. The information can be of any type, ranging from the address, to private photos, to the name… If the method has always existed, identity theft by email (Business Email Compromise or BEC) is now part of the most widespread cyber-attacks and whose development has accelerated significantly. Internationally, the Email Fraud Report conducted by Proofpoint among 2,400 companies in 150 countries reports that 88.8% of companies were targeted by email fraud in Q4 2017. On average these businesses were targeted by 18.5 fraudulent emails per quarter. And like all cyberattacks, this one can have disastrous financial consequences for a business. Since 2013, the total cost of email spoofing has been $12.5 billion according to the FBI. Securing emails must therefore become a priority in the cybersecurity strategy of companies, in order to protect sensitive data of customers, employees and collaborators such as addresses, phone numbers, identity documents, confidential data…
How to protect oneself from email spoofing ?
As with many types of cyber-attacks, being careful with your passwords remains essential to protect yourself from identity theft by email. It is therefore recommended to use a complex password alternating upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Similarly, it is better to use several passwords to secure your different access accounts and not share them.
Among other practices to integrate, it is strongly recommended to verify the identity of the sender of an email. Indeed, a hacker can easily take the identity of a hierarchical superior (this is called a president scam). A well-known and regularly used technique consists in approaching an existing e-mail address by replacing the letter “l” with a capital “i”. The e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org would become for example giIles@gmail.com without the change of letter being noticed.
Hackers can also pretend to be well-known brands (Apple, Paypal…) in order to make their victims less vigilant. Finally, others have the habit of displaying a fake recipient name on a mobile device. By checking the identity of the sender, it is then easy to access the real email address and to realize that it is a potential spam (e.g.: email@example.com). In this case, the hacker relies on the fact that most people will not check the real sender’s address.
Finally, there are other practices to minimize the risk of identity theft by e-mail: destroy paper documents containing personal information, avoid registering your e-mail address on suspicious sites or pay attention to your bank statements.
What to do in case of email spoofing ?
In France, identity theft in the broadest sense is sanctioned by law It is therefore advisable to file a pre-complaint on https://www.pre-plainte-en-ligne.gouv.fr/. Once signed by the authorities, the complaint can then be filed with a police station, a gendarmerie squad or the public prosecutor in order to open an investigation against the cybercriminal. Other platforms such as https://www.pre-plainte-en-ligne.gouv.fr/ are also available to victims of identity theft.
In order to protect your data, it is also a good idea to change all the passwords of the different access accounts of the company, in particular those linked to financial institutions. In general, it is important to make sure that employees are aware of the risks associated with cyber security.
Through these different ranges of probes, Gatewatcher offers its Trackwatch solution capable of supporting companies in their cybersecurity strategy. Trackwatch analyzes network flows to identify malware and malicious links contained in emails. Learn more about Trackwatch