Trend Micro has announced a new capability to defend against business email compromise (BEC) attacks – AI-powered writing style analysis that raises the alarm when emails are suspected of impersonating an executive or other high-profile user.
Trend Micro Writing Style DNA is a new layer of protection against BEC attacks, which uses AI to “blueprint” a user’s style of writing, employing more than 7,000 writing characteristics. When an email is suspected of impersonating a high-profile user, the style is compared to this trained AI model and a warning is sent to the implied sender, the recipient and the IT department.
Trend Micro says that in 2017, 94% of all ransomware blocked by its products were distributed via email. In addition, total global losses from BEC scams are predicted to reach $9 billion in 2018, with an average loss of $132,000 per BEC incident.
BEC attacks impersonate the CEO, president or managing director of a company nearly 70% of the time, with urgent requests for an employee to make a wire transfer or reply with sensitive data. These are hard to detect because the emails usually do not have an attachment or URL link, which are more commonly recognized as suspicious.
Writing Style DNA provides authorship analysis to complement existing AI inspection layers that focus on email intent and attacker behaviors by checking info in the email header and the email content. In doing so, it’s able to spot attackers who hijack legitimate domains/accounts to circumvent traditional filters. Executives can also provide feedback on the flagged emails to improve detection and reduce false positives.
Also on the email threat vector front, Trend Micro has also introduced a free phishing simulation platform, Phish Insight, which enables businesses to test their employees’ understanding of scam emails. Organizations can then tailor an education program based on the simulation results using material provided through the platform.
“The future threat landscape requires AI-powered protection that leverages expert rules and machine learning,” said Eva Chen, CEO of Trend Micro. “This new capability is the perfect complement to our existing email security as well as the free phishing simulation and awareness service we’re making available to businesses. In a world of increasingly sophisticated and financially damaging email fraud, multiple layers are needed to put organizations back on the offensive.”
Writing Style DNA will be released in June 2018 on Cloud App Security (CAS) for Microsoft Office 365 and ScanMail for Microsoft Exchange (SMEX), and will be included with existing BEC protections at no extra cost. The beta period started mid-March (for SMEX) and the beginning of April (for CAS).