Impersonation Protection: CEO Fraud

Impersonation Protection is a cybersecurity solution designed to protect organizations from email-based impersonation attacks. These attacks typically involve cybercriminals pretending to be trusted individuals or entities using social-engineering tactics to deceive recipients into taking harmful actions, such as revealing sensitive information, transferring funds, or clicking on malicious links.

A robust cybersecurity plan uses AI-Based Comprehensive Threat Detection, Real-Time Protection, Brand Monitoring, User Awareness Training and Incident Response to mitigate risk and address vulnerabilities. Organizations who utilize such tools ensure an increase in Security, Operational Efficiency, Employee Protection, Regulatory Compliance and Scalability. Over the next three months, we’ll share real-world examples of impersonation fraud, along with explanation of the methods of attack and appropriate responses. First up, CEO fraud.

CEO Fraud

The company CFO receives an email that looks like it’s from the CEO, who is currently traveling abroad. The email instructs the CFO to urgently wire funds to complete an acquisition deal.

Methods of Attack

  • Impersonation of the CEO: The email address is similar to the CEO’s, and the attacker has done enough research to mimic the CEO’s communication style.
  • Use of Urgency: The email stresses the importance of the deal and the need for immediate action due to time zone differences and tight deadlines.


The CFO transfers a significant amount of money to the account specified in the email. It’s only later, when the real CEO contacts the CFO for an unrelated matter, that they realize the email was fraudulent. The transferred funds are already gone, causing a substantial financial loss to the company.

Applying Lessons Learned

Verification Processes: Implement strict verification processes for financial transactions, especially those requested via email. This could include verifying requests through a secondary communication channel.

Employee Training: Regularly train employees to recognize signs of impersonation attacks and encourage them to report suspicious emails.

Email Security Solutions: Utilize advanced email security solutions like Impersonation Protection to detect and block suspicious emails before they reach the inbox. AI tools are used which analyze and can recognize when the writing style is different from what is normally seen from the sender.

Policies and Procedures: Establish and enforce clear policies regarding email communication, especially for high-risk activities like fund transfers and sharing sensitive information.

Next month, we’ll take a look at a similar impersonation attempt against a credit union. For more information on how to protect your organization from cyber threats, both technological and via social engineering, contact Team BTS.

Team BTS

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