Unraveling the Threat of Vendor Email Compromise (VEC)
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Unraveling the Threat of Vendor Email Compromise (VEC)

Vendor Email Compromise (VEC), also known as “financial supply chain compromise,” is a sophisticated form of Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack that specifically targets third-party vendors to exploit their relationships with customers. Attackers impersonate vendors to deceive multiple targets into divulging money or sensitive information.

Understanding Business Email Compromise (BEC)

BEC is a social engineering attack that hijacks victims’ emails to manipulate them into performing predetermined actions, such as revealing sensitive data. Notably, BEC often targets specific individuals within an organization and is challenging to detect, as it doesn’t rely on traditional malware or malicious links.

Vendor Email Compromise: A Deeper Dive

While VEC is a subtype of BEC, it demands a greater understanding of existing business relationships, including payment structures and financial processes. The research phase for a VEC attack can span weeks to months, offering attackers a substantial payoff for their efforts.

The Unfolding of Vendor Email Compromise Attacks

In-Depth Research:
Attackers conduct extensive research on the target vendor, gathering information on employees, customers, work processes, billing cycles, and more to impersonate them convincingly.

Phishing Emails to Vendor:
Phishing emails containing malicious links are sent to the vendor to gain access to their email account, a crucial step before targeting customers.

Account Takeover:
Once access is secured, attackers create email forwarding rules to monitor the vendor’s inbox for financial details, such as bank accounts, invoices, and payment schedules.

Targeted Attacks on Customers:
In the final step, a highly sophisticated spear-phishing campaign is executed on the vendor’s customers, typically around billing periods. Using gathered information, attackers persuade victims to make payments to the attacker’s account.

Consequences of Vendor Email Compromise

VEC campaigns impact both the compromised vendor and its customers or suppliers. The compromised vendor may face reputational damage and financial losses, as misdirected payments can lead to redirected client funds. Clients or suppliers targeted by the compromised vendor account may suffer steep financial losses, service disruptions, and a compromised supply chain.

Understanding and fortifying against Vendor Email Compromise is crucial for businesses to safeguard their financial supply chain and protect themselves and their customers from the far-reaching consequences of these sophisticated attacks. 

Stay vigilant, invest in robust cybersecurity measures, and prioritize security awareness training for your entire staff to mitigate the risks associated with VEC. Citynet is here to help you guard against these sophisticated attacks with comprehensive, world-class cybersecurity solutions from the best names in technology. 

Contact Citynet today!

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