Common Attack Vectors

And Keys to Protecting Your Business

Identify. Prioritize. Protect.

Your company has its own unique set of cyber risks. Your lines of business, your technical infrastructure, threats, employees, third-party vendors, and other variables all factor into your cyber risk profile.
Each year, risks continue to grow more complex and new threats raise their ugly heads. Though you can’t control the evolving cyber landscape, you can control your cybersecurity strategy. 
By adopting a risk-based, proactive approach to cybersecurity aligned with your specific business objectives, compliance regulations, and desired business outcomes, you can prevent and protect your organization against cyber threats. Partnering with Pondurance will minimize your risk of falling victim to costly and damaging cyberattacks and build your cyber maturity and resiliency.


Malware, short for malicious software, is a term that encompasses a wide range of software programs designed with the intent to cause harm to computer systems, networks, and users. Cybercriminals create malware to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, disrupt computer operations or networks, or simply spread chaos in the digital world. With the rise in our reliance on technology and the internet, it has become increasingly important for individuals and organizations alike to understand what malware is, how it works, and how they can prevent cyberattacks.
Protecting against malware requires an ongoing effort, and in many cases, organizations will implement foundational controls and partner with a cybersecurity adviser like Pondurance to ensure they have cybersecurity programs with comprehensive methods focused on their specific needs.  Download our eBook to get started:

  • Install reputable antivirus software and ensure it remains up to date
  • Regularly update your operating system and all installed applications
  • Enable built-in firewalls on your devices
  • Be cautious of email attachments and links from unknown sources
  • Utilize strong passwords and enable multifactor authentication (MFA) where possible
  • Create regular backups of your important files and store them securely offsite
  • Employee training – Educate staff members about potential threats such as phishing emails and social engineering tactics employed by cybercriminals
  • Network segmentation – Divide your organization’s network into separate zones to minimize the spread of malware should an attack occur
  • Vulnerability management – Regularly assess, identify, and remediate vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure before they can be exploited by attackers
  • Incident response planning – Develop a well-defined incident response plan outlining roles, responsibilities, and procedures to follow when faced with a security breach


Ransomware is a malicious type of software designed to encrypt an individual’s or organization’s data, rendering it inaccessible until a ransom demand is met. Ransomware attacks are becoming more prevalent against companies of all industries. Cybercriminals are changing the techniques they use to execute attacks. Initially, ransomware had a single function where the attacker entered a network and encrypted the data. It then evolved to double extortion where the attacker now steals data and threatens to leak it and encrypts the data and holds it for ransom.  
Cybersecurity organizations like Pondurance take a risk-based approach to your cybersecurity needs and focus efforts aligned with your business objectives and desired outcomes. Pondurance assists organizations with implementing foundational controls and offers specialized services aimed at helping clients protect against potential threats like ransomware attacks. Download our eBook, or check out our blog library on ransomware to learn more. 

  • Keep all computers and devices patched
  • Enable MFA
  • Limit user access
  • Allow only authorized applications
  • Use network segmentation
  • Limit remote access as much as possible
  • Establish 360-degree visibility
  • Monitor and analyze logs
  • Provide consistent security awareness training
  • Encrypt endpoints


Phishing is a deceptive practice that cybercriminals employ to obtain sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal data from unsuspecting individuals. Cybersecurity experts have identified this nefarious activity as one of the most prevalent threats in today’s digital landscape. With a primary focus on email communications, phishing attacks often involve fraudsters posing as legitimate entities to deceive their targets into revealing valuable information or executing actions that could compromise their security. Organizations must remain vigilant in educating their staff about the various phishing examples and how to protect against such threats.

Additional Phishing Resources

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a highly targeted digital social engineering attack that aims to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information or granting unauthorized access to their accounts. This form of cyberattack has gained notoriety in recent years due to its increasing prevalence and sophistication. Unlike traditional phishing techniques, which cast a wide net in hopes of ensnaring unsuspecting users, spear phishing involves meticulously crafted messages designed to appeal specifically to the intended victim. By impersonating familiar contacts or trusted organizations, these malicious communications can be exceedingly difficult to recognize and resist. 
Protecting against spear phishing requires a multifaceted approach that combines employee education and training, robust email security measures, and swift incident response capabilities. By partnering with cybersecurity experts like those at Pondurance who offer managed detection and response and incident response services, organizations can significantly enhance their security postures and reduce the likelihood of falling victim to these highly targeted and deceptive attacks.

Additional Spear Phishing Resources

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

BEC is a sophisticated form of phishing attack that targets organizations and their employees. By exploiting human vulnerabilities, BEC perpetrators deceive victims into transferring funds or disclosing sensitive information to unauthorized recipients. A typical BEC attack often begins with a phishing email that appears to come from a trusted source such as a high-ranking executive within the organization. 
The key to organizations protecting themselves and their employers from falling victim to a BEC scam is educating employees on how to scrutinize incoming emails for signs of fraudulence and how to validate requests for sensitive information. Organizations can instruct employees to contact the purported sender through an independent channel such as a phone call or text message, establish robust internal controls within the organization, implement policies requiring multiple approvals for large financial transactions, and conduct periodic audits and reconciliations to detect unauthorized payments.

Additional BEC Resources

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Business Email Compromise (BEC)

Business email compromise (BEC) is a sophisticated form of cyberattack that targets organizations and exploits their employees’ trust in email communication. This type of attack involves attackers impersonating senior executives or trusted business partners to deceive employees into executing unauthorized transactions or revealing sensitive information. Given the significant financial and reputational consequences, BEC has emerged as a critical cybersecurity risk that warrants thorough assessment and proactive measures. 

The prevalence of BEC attacks has been on the rise due to their high success rate and lucrative returns for cybercriminals. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, reported losses from BEC attacks exceeded $1.8 billion in 2020 alone, making it one of the most financially damaging forms of cybercrime. The impact of such attacks extends far beyond monetary losses as well. Businesses also experience disruptions in operations, erosion of trust among stakeholders, and potential legal liabilities. One crucial aspect of understanding BEC is recognizing that attackers are not machines but people with unique skills and motivations. That means combating these threats requires not only advanced technological solutions but also human expertise to anticipate and outmaneuver the adversaries effectively. A comprehensive cybersecurity risk assessment should include an evaluation of the organization’s vulnerability to BEC and identify areas where improvements can be made. 

As part of a robust defense strategy against business email compromise, organizations must invest in employee training programs aimed at raising awareness about common BEC tactics such as spear-phishing and social engineering. By cultivating a security-conscious workforce that can recognize red flags associated with fraudulent emails or requests for sensitive information, it becomes increasingly difficult for attackers to succeed in exploiting human vulnerabilities. 

Another essential component in preventing business email compromise is implementing strong authentication measures to verify users’ identities before granting access to critical systems or approving financial transactions. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), which requires additional proof beyond passwords (e.g., tokens or biometrics), can dramatically reduce the risk of BEC by hindering unauthorized access even if attackers manage to compromise an employee’s login credentials. Furthermore, organizations should establish clear policies and procedures for verifying and approving high-value transactions or information requests. By incorporating a system of checks and balances, businesses can prevent unauthorized transfers or data breaches that often result from successful BEC attacks. 

Given the dynamic nature of cybersecurity threats, organizations must adopt a proactive approach to detecting and responding to potential BEC attacks. This entails leveraging advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to bolster the organization’s security posture. However, relying solely on cutting-edge tools may not suffice; drawing upon human expertise remains indispensable in comprehending the complex tactics employed by BEC attackers.

By conducting thorough cybersecurity risk assessments, implementing robust authentication measures, promoting employee awareness, and integrating both technological solutions and human intelligence into their defense strategies, businesses can significantly decrease their vulnerability to these financially damaging attacks.

Types of BEC Attacks

The main goal of BEC attackers is to gain access to sensitive information, financial resources, and confidential data. In recent years, BEC attacks have become increasingly prevalent and complex, posing significant risks to businesses across various industries. One standard method used in business email compromise attacks is social engineering. This involves exploiting human psychology and manipulating employees’ trust in order to gain access to the targeted organization’s systems or information. 

Social engineering tactics can include pretexting, baiting, and tailgating, among others. For example, an attacker may pretend to be a company executive or a vendor requesting urgent payment for an outstanding invoice by sending an email that appears legitimate but contains fraudulent account details. Phishing is another technique utilized in business email compromise scams. It involves sending deceptive emails designed to look like they come from a reputable source with the intention of tricking recipients into clicking on malicious links or downloading harmful attachments. 

These actions may lead to the installation of malware or granting the attacker unauthorized access to sensitive information such as login credentials and financial data. Apart from these methods, several types of business email compromise schemes vary based on their specific objectives and techniques. The different types of BEC attacks include, but not are limited to the following business email compromise examples:

Bogus Invoice Scheme 

In a bog invoice type of BEC attack, scammers pose as legitimate vendors or suppliers by using compromised email accounts. They contact employees responsible for handling payments within the targeted organization and request payment for fictitious invoices. 

CEO Fraud

A CEO fraud scheme involves impersonating high-ranking company officials such as CEOs or CFOs and sending emails with urgent requests for wire transfers or other financial transactions. These messages often convey a sense of urgency and confidentiality, pressuring employees into complying without verifying the legitimacy of the request. 

Account Compromise:

Attackers can gain unauthorized access to an employee’s email account within the targeted organization, and these types of BEC attacks are known as account compromises. The attackers use the compromised account to send emails requesting financial transfers or divulging sensitive information. 

Attorney Impersonation

Scammers can also pretend to be legal representatives or law enforcement officials and contact employees within the targeted organization, often claiming that immediate action is required regarding a confidential matter such as a lawsuit or pending investigation. 

Data Theft

This data theft type of BEC attack focuses on obtaining sensitive data such as employee records, customer information, and intellectual property. The stolen data can be used for various malicious purposes, including identity theft, fraud, and corporate espionage.

To combat business email compromise attacks, organizations must adopt comprehensive cybersecurity measures that include regular employee training on recognizing phishing emails and social engineering tactics, implementing strong access controls for sensitive information, and deploying advanced threat detection and response technologies. By understanding the various types of BEC attacks and their underlying motives, businesses can better protect themselves against this growing threat landscape.

BEC Prevention

The adverse impacts of BEC attacks can be overwhelming for businesses, but with adequate measures in place, it is possible to reduce cyber risk significantly. Preventing BEC attacks requires a comprehensive approach, integrating robust cybersecurity solutions with effective risk management strategies. 

One crucial element in this mix is the deployment of advanced business email compromise tools designed to monitor emails for signs of malicious intent and thwart potential threats before they materialize, like the Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solution from Pondurance. A multi-layered cybersecurity solution such as this is essential for BEC prevention. This should include advanced threat detection capabilities that identify unusual patterns and behaviors associated with email compromise attempts. 

It’s also important to have secure communication channels in place, employing encryption mechanisms such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect sensitive data from being intercepted or tampered with during transmission. Another vital component of an effective BEC prevention strategy is employee training and awareness programs. By educating employees about common phishing tactics used by cybercriminals and how to recognize potential red flags in suspicious emails, organizations can significantly minimize the risk of falling victim to BEC scams. 

However, even with sophisticated technology and well-trained employees in place, there remains a need for continuous monitoring and assessment of the organization’s cybersecurity posture. This is where Pondurance steps into the arena as an ideal partner for organizations striving towards comprehensive BEC prevention. 

Pondurance takes pride in offering an innovative blend of AI-powered technology coupled with human intelligence to deliver unparalleled detection capabilities that effectively respond to evolving cyber threats. Their belief that relying solely on AI and automation is insufficient resonates strongly within their services – recognizing that attackers are not machines but people who are constantly adapting their strategies. 

Leveraging decades of experience in the cybersecurity domain, Pondurance’s experts work relentlessly to speed up the detection and response process. By deploying a range of advanced business email compromise prevention techniques, they help organizations contain cyber threats swiftly and minimize potential damage. Among the various solutions offered by Pondurance is their managed threat detection and response service. This comprehensive package includes 24/7 monitoring, expert analysis, incident response planning, and timely communications to ensure that organizations are always one step ahead of attackers. 

Pondurance also provides actionable insights through our cybersecurity risk management services. These enable organizations to identify areas of vulnerability in their current defenses and prioritize mitigation efforts based on industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Pondurance’s Managed Detection and Response is an excellent defense against BEC attacks and is just one of our modern cybersecurity solutions. We also offer Incident Response solutions and advisory services, along with risk-based cybersecurity products tailored for specific industries, such as healthcare, retail, and more. Pondurance’s solutions are perfect for organizations of all sizes and industries.

Business email compromise prevention requires a concerted effort from both technology and human expertise. By partnering with a cybersecurity leader such as Pondurance, who possesses deep knowledge in this field, organizations can significantly fortify their defenses against the ever-evolving landscape of BEC attacks. With proactive measures in place, businesses can confidently safeguard their sensitive data and maintain a resilient posture against cyber threats. That’s where Pondurance can help, as we offer a wide range of cybersecurity solutions backed by human intelligence. To learn more about Pondurance’s Managed Detection and Response and other solutions, request a demo today.