A View from the Top: Why C-Level Executives Are More Prone to Cyberattacks

A View from the Top: Why C-Level Executives Are More Prone to Cyberattacks

August 24, 2018

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles) / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cybersecurity is an issue that is now demanding more attention than ever. Due to the frequency and devastating consequences of cyberattacks, every employee should be able to maintain a high level of cyberattack prevention.

However, that’s not always the case, and some individuals within a company are more enticing targets for hackers than others. C-level executives are at particular risk from malicious attacks and email scams, yet they don’t always take security seriously enough. Let’s have a more detailed look at why C-level executives are more prone to cyberattacks.

Information as the Primary Goal of Hackers

Hackers rely on extracting valuable information from company employees to carry out their attacks. In that regard, the most sought-after targets will always be C-level executives, owing to the amount of information they can access. Additionally, a company’s executives have authority with other employees, which ensures they’d carry out a suspicious transfer if instructed to. 

C-level executives are also known sometimes to have a lax attitude towards security. They’re busy people and have no time for security measures such as double-checking the sender of every email. If there are no technological controls or protective services in place, C-level executives can quickly fall prey to hackers. Getting them on the same page with IT is paramount to prevent the worst of the attacks. However, those attacks usually go through email, and conventional IT security solutions like firewall or antivirus can’t stop them entirely.

BEC and EAC Scams

Business Email Compromise (BEC) and Email Account Compromise (EAC) are sophisticated scams with which hackers usually target the C-suite. They’re often carried out through social engineering, so the target doesn’t suspect fraud. The hackers get the target to divulge valuable information and perform a fraudulent wire transfer. They do it all through a simple, innocent phishing email, posing as a business partner or a company employee.

According to the IC3 data, the domestic and international losses from BEC and EAC between October 2013 and May 2018 were over $12 billion. The statistical evidence shows that the real estate sector is heavily targeted, but other industries see plenty of BEC and EAC attacks as well.

Protection Solutions for BEC and EAC

Both BEC and EAC are types of phishing designed to scam a company employee. The emails often look authentic, especially at first glance. One way for the C-level executives to protect themselves is keeping their eyes open for the smallest signs of fraud. However, that can be impractical, owing to the extensiveness of the process of checking an email’s authenticity.

A better way to protect your company is opting for an all-encompassing anti-phishing service. Area 1 Horizon developed by Area 1 Security offers protection from phishing before it even becomes a threat. Our phishing protection is proactive, not only ensuring that your company won’t get breached, but also that these malicious attacks won’t even reach you. We accomplish this by using web crawling and small pattern analytics to discover the launch points of phishing attacks before the campaign goes active. That way we stop the most dangerous attacks that cause 95% of data breaches.

Since C-level executives are so prone to cyberattacks, mainly for BEC and EAC scams, it’s important to keep them protected. It’s a given that any industry professional should know the basics of cybersecurity. However, having peace of mind is invaluable, and that’s precisely what Area 1 Security Anti-Phishing Service provides.


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Article by Kim Del Fierro, VP of Marketing for Area 1 Security.

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