Vendor Email Compromise Fraud Is Surging, Study Finds

Companies face an 82% increase in the likelihood of being attacked through a SolarWinds-style vendor email compromise (VEC) in a given week, according to The Rising Threat of Vendor Email Compromise in a Post-SolarWinds Era, a study by Abnormal Security. 

Moreover, the average potential loss from these attacks is 144% higher than those caused by business email compromise (BEC) hacks, as reported to the FBI’s Internet Complaint Crime Center.

SolarWinds is the company allegedly hacked by Russian bad actors,  leaving companies and the government vulnerable. 

The study -- which analyzes cyberattacks on Fortune 1000 companies stopped by Abnormal Security from Q3 2020 to January 2021 -- also found that firms had a 50% chance of getting hit with a VEC attack at least once in Q4 2020 versus 40% in Q3.

In addition, they face a 23% chance of being targeted by a VEC attack during any given week in January 2021 vs. 13% in Q3 2020;



The average potential loss due to VEC attacks is $183,000 per attack, based on Abnormal Security’s blocking of such attempts. 

The study also found that billing account update fraud causes average losses of almost $300,000 per attack.

Weekly VEC invoice fraud campaigns increased 45% from Q3 to Q4.

The report also says that seven out of eight industries tracked by Abnormal Security experienced quarter-over-quarter increases in VEC attacks in Q4

The affected industries were: Energy/Infrastructure, Finance, Hospitality, Media/TV, Retail/Consumer Goods & and Manufacturing, Services, and Technology.

“Throughout 2020, threat actors increased attacks on enterprises using novel and sophisticated social engineering techniques to infiltrate trusted supply chain communications,” states Evan Reiser, CEO and co-founder of Abnormal Security. 

Reiser adds: “To stop these attacks, large enterprises need the right technical controls to identify vendors that have been compromised.”


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