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Comment: Hackers attempt to sabotage a Premier League transfer deal

July 2020 by Dave Barnett, Director of Edge Protection at Forcepoint

In relation to the news story revealing that hackers recently attempted to sabotage a Premier League transfer deal, the comment from Dave Barnett, Director of Edge Protection at Forcepoint:

“This hack is a perfect example of a business email compromise (BEC) attack, where it appears that the hacker has accessed an executive’s email account and attempted to trick another club or agent into sending money. While these attacks do require significantly more effort from cybercriminals than more scatter-gun tactics like ransomware, they have become increasingly popular because of their lucrative nature. It takes time and resource to convincingly impersonate a high profile football executive and target other clubs — but their targeted nature means the payoff can be much more certain if done correctly, and worth more.

As a result, these kinds of attack can be mitigated by focusing on three key areas: people, processes and technology. It is crucial that humans should first and foremost be viewed as the first line of any defence. Training will help employees understand cybercriminals’ thinking around BEC attacks and create a procedure for them to double check all out of character fund transfers.

Extra checks at a process level (e.g. strange activity in financial transfers) can also help identify unusual activity associated with BEC scams. Businesses should consider web and email security solutions to prevent interaction with initial lures. Multi-factor authentication on email accounts can stop hackers obtaining access to legitimate email accounts as it allows for dynamic policy changes and step-up authentication. A Zero Trust approach to security should also be considered, which verifies the identity of every person or entity attempting to access network resources. This contrasts with traditional ‘trust but verify’ security models that have historically focused on protecting the network perimeter, which don’t take into account that many of today’s breaches occur from inside the boundaries of the network. Whereas Zero Trust takes away access from anyone and everyone until the network and applications being accessed can be certain who you are.

However, the biggest defence against BEC is behaviour-centric cybersecurity solutions: only when users begin acting out of character or in ways contrary to policies, will enterprises begin to spot threats as they are in their early stages. Successful companies will embrace proactive, behaviour-centric, adaptive, people-focused strategies for preventing data loss while safeguarding employees and critical systems both at the network edge and in the cloud.”




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