“The most malicious email attacks are no longer pleas for funds from a purported Nigerian prince,” said Patrick Peterson, CEO of cybersecurity company Agari. “Instead, the cybercriminals of today are sophisticated shape shifters who take the form of your most trusted colleagues — your CEO, CFO or longtime business partner.”
For example, they might send an email to the CFO asking for money to be wired to a foreign bank account. Last year, a finance executive at toy maker Mattel wired more than $3 million to a bank in Wenzhou, China, only to find out that the company had been the victim of scammers. The company was unusually lucky in that it was able to retrieve its money with the help of international authorities.
Alternatively, a gang might target an executive in research and development with a well-crafted email that looks like it comes from another executive asking them to share critical information. One method thieves use to trick people into revealing such information is in the guise of an impending merger and acquisition deal which requires the executive to divulge detailed competitive information that is normally kept private.