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Fake CEOs appear in nearly half of phishing scam emails

(Image credit: Image Credit: Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock)

Cyber criminals engaged in email fraud most frequently try to impersonate the CEO of a company. This is according to a new report released by Barracuda Networks.

Based on a poll of more than 3,000 business email compromise attacks, the report says that the CEO was impersonated in almost half of all cases – 42.95 per cent.

Barracuda says this completely justifies the fact that ‘CEO fraud’ is the term often used to describe Business Email Compromise (BEC).

The victims of these attacks are, most often, junior roles. More than half (53.7 per cent) of recipients are not C-level, and do not operate in sensitive departments such as human resources or finances.

Usually, the goal of such an attack is to have the victim wire some cash (46.9 per cent of cases). The second most popular goal is to get the victim to click on a malicious link (40.1 per cent).

Six in ten attacks didn’t have a malicious link, but include simple plain text with the goal to fool the victim into committing a wire transfer or sending sensitive information. Being in plain text also makes it harder for antivirus software to spot the attempt.

Despite increasing investment in cybersecurity, fraud is still a huge headache for businesses. Recent RiskIQ reports claimed that every minute, almost 2,000 people get scammed out of more than a million dollars.

Image Credit: Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.