Business email compromise (BEC) remains the most common and most costly threat facing our customers. The year 2020 marked the fifth year in which these schemes held the top position on the annual FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report. Over half a decade, global losses ballooned from $360 million in 2016 to a staggering $1.8 billion in 2020. Put in perspective, the annual losses associated with BEC schemes now exceed the gross domestic product (GDP) of 24 countries. Of greater concern, the combined losses in the three year period 2018-2020 are now estimated to be in excess of $4.93 billion worldwide. This threat shows no sign of slowing down, as losses increased 29% last year to an average of $96,372 per victim.
Over the past half decade, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 has actively monitored the evolution of this threat with a unique focus on threat actors based in Nigeria, which we track under the name “SilverTerrier.” While BEC is a global threat, our focus on Nigerian actors provides insights into one of the largest subcultures of this malign activity, given the country’s consistent ranking as one of the top hotspots for cybercrime.
Source: Palo Alto/Unit 42