Cybercriminal Gang, Silent Starling, Creates New ‘Vendor Email Compromise’ Category



iStock-687977248New attacks focus on organizations with global supply chains looking to trick a supplier’s customers into paying fake invoices and have already impacted 500 organizations worldwide.

You’ve no doubt heard of Business Email Compromise (BEC), where an email is sent to someone within an organization seemingly from someone else in power in that very same organization in an attempt to commit fraud. You’ve also heard of island hopping, where attackers use a mix of compromised credentials, spoofed phishing emails, and malware to jump organizations.

Security vendor Agari has identified a new cybercriminal organization focused on one particular attack that sits so firmly in the middle of the previously mentioned two attack types that they felt the need to come up with a brand-new attack category – Vendor Email Compromise (VEC).

Similar to BEC, VEC targets supply chain customers by first compromising an organization, gaining access to its user credential, accounts payable application, and email platform; and then emails customers in an attempt to trick them into changing banking details on invoice payments so that funds will be routed to cybercriminal bank accounts instead of the supplier’s account.

Thus far, Agari has identified the following stats on this gang’s activities:

  • 500 companies in 14 countries affected
  • 20,000+ emails stolen since 2018
  • 39 employees compromised a just one U.S.-based company alone

There’s no details yet on the financial impact of such an attack, but given that BEC is estimated to cost over $4 Billion in 2019, it’s evident why Silent Starling wants to get into this business.

Organizations should educate both employees using Security Awareness Training of phishing attacks used to initially compromise online credentials and/or install malware onto endpoints. Vendors, customers, and contractors should also be encouraged to put their employees through the same training to be educated on BEC and VEC scams.


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