According to Barracuda Networks, cybercriminals are increasingly registering accounts with legitimate email services, especially Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Gmail and Verizon’s (VZ) Yahoo, to use them in impersonation and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. Another data point that speaks to the ingenuity of attackers capitalizing to compromise on defense weaknesses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the growing demand profile for cybersecurity and data privacy solutions that are propelling the constituents in the Foxberry Tematica Research Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Index.
In their most recent threat spotlight report, Barracuda researchers observed that 6,170 malicious accounts that have used Gmail, AOL and other email services, have been responsible for over 100,000 BEC attacks which have impacted nearly 6,600 organizations. What’s more, since April 1, these ‘malicious accounts’ have been behind 45% of all BEC attacks detected.
Essentially, cybercriminals are using malicious accounts to impersonate an employee or trusted partner, and send highly personalized messages for the purpose of tricking other employees into leaking sensitive information, or sending over money.
The preferred choice of email service for malicious accounts is Gmail, which accounts for 59% of all email domains used by cybercriminals. Yahoo! is the second most popular, accounting for just 6% of all observed malicious account attacks.