Cybercriminals are targeting the financial accounts of small and midsize businesses (SMBs), fraudulently transferring money directly from their accounts, the FBI warned October 20. In a fraud alert issued October 20, the FBI said “corporate account takeover” attacks use malware to steal passwords and other credentials from senior executives at SMBs and then use those credentials to empty the companies’ coffers. “To obtain access to financial accounts, cyber criminals target employees—often senior executives or accounting, HR personnel, and business partners—and cause the targeted individual to spread [malware], which in turn steals their personal information and log-in credentials,” the FBI says in its full report. “Once the account is compromised, the cyber criminal is able to electronically steal money from business accounts,” the report explains. “Cyber criminals also use various attack methods to exploit check archiving and verification services that enable them to issue counterfeit checks, impersonate the customer over the phone to arrange funds transfers, mimic legitimate communication from the financial institution to verify transactions, create unauthorized wire transfers and ACH payments, or initiate other changes to the account.” In addition to targeting account information, attackers also seek to gain customer lists and other proprietary information, often using the same malware-spreading techniques, the report says. The FBI first began warning enterprises about corporate account takeovers in 2006, but they are rising in numbers because cybercriminals have found them rather easy to perpetrate—especially when it comes to SMBs that do not have a dedicated IT security staff, the report says. The rewards are great—often surpassing hundreds of thousands of dollars—and the risk is low.
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