FBI alert: CEO email scams have cost companies $2.3B in nearly 2 years

FBI officials are reporting a rise in the occurrence of business-related email scams in which bad actors spoof a company leader's email address or assume the identity of a company leader and request money from employees in charge of managing the company's money.

Scammers research the company and its employees, determining which employee to target and request a wire fraud transfer "using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy," according to an alert issued by the FBI.

These business email compromise scams target organizations across the board, from large corporations to small business to nonprofits. From October 2013 through February 2016, more than $2.3 billion has been paid to these scammers, reports the FBI.

The email scams are growing in number, as law enforcement has received complaints from all 50 states and in at least 79 countries, according to the FBI, which also noted there has been a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss since January 2015.

According to security blog Krebs on Security, these scam emails typically pass by spam filters because the emails are sent to specific individuals instead of as a mass email as most phishing scams are conducted. Additionally, scammers do extensive research into companies to align language used to sound like the CEO or leader they are impersonating.

"On the surface, business email compromise scams may seem unsophisticated relative to moneymaking schemes that involve complex malicious software," according to Krebs on Security."But in many ways, CEO fraud is more versatile and adept at sidestepping basic security strategies used by banks and their customers to minimize risks associated with account takeovers."

More articles on malware:

New malware threat for iPhones: 'Evil Skype'
27M devices with medical apps vulnerable to malware: 5 insights into mobile healthcare security risks

Alvarado Hospital Medical Center hit with malware attack

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