Businesses In The UK Are Losing Money To Whale Finance Schemes

united kingdomCyber thieves are focusing their attention on business in the U.K as they are finding it a very lucrative market to carry out a fraudulent ‘whale finance scheme’. The process is a very simple one that is carried out in a short period of time and has turned out to be very profitable for cybercriminals.

Ubiquiti Networks has been of the companies that these cyber criminals used to conduct their whale finance scheme and resulted in the company losing around £30 million. Analysts believe that millions of pounds are stolen each year from business establishments through the whale finance fraud.

The cyber thieves hack an official network and gain access to a C-level executive’s email and use it as their base of operations. When the C-level executive is out of the office, these cyber criminals will send out a message from the official email id of the chief executive to a senior accountant and ask them to immediately transfer funds on an emergency basis. The email will also highlight the fact that since this C-level executive is not in the office, to please take this email as an approval and complete the transfer at the earliest.

Security analysts have termed this operation as whaling because this scheme targets just the head of the organization unlike phishing which targets a bigger section of people to carry out fraudulent activities. In a statement, Adrian Nish, BAE head of threat intelligence said

The focused attacks by criminals are increasing because they have realised they can make a bigger pay-off than they can from many thousands of smaller attacks

Centrify, a security based firm was also on the target list of the attackers but the fraud was prevented just in time. The same setup was used but the transfer was stopped when the concerned C-level executive returned suddenly and the financial executive was able to approach and confirm that no such request was sent.

The chief security strategist at Bit 9, Ben Johnson stated that whale frauds were happening in the U.K and the U.S. and growing at an alarming rate as most of these frauds were being conducted by an organized gang that knew how to work the system and go undetected for long periods of time.

Johnson stated that these gangs stay under the radar as they generally request transfers for small sums of money that will not cause any red flags for the authorizer. Authorities in the U.K and the U.S. are currently looking at ‘whale financing’ and are looking to break up this operation and arrest the gang members.


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