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Trend Micro Analyzes Writing Style to Detect Email Fraud

Trend Micro on Monday unveiled a new capability that allows its products to identify email fraud attempts by using a writing style analysis system powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

The new Writing Style DNA, which Trend Micro has integrated into multiple products, uses AI to create a blueprint of a user’s style of writing based on more than 7,000 characteristics.

The text of every incoming email is compared to the trained AI model. If it doesn’t match the known writing style, a warning is sent out to the intended recipient, the apparent sender – in business email compromise (BEC) attacks the fake email comes from a spoofed address or a hacked account – and the company’s IT department.

Writing Style DNA also allows executives to provide feedback on flagged emails to help improve detection rates and reduce false positives.

The new capability is expected to become generally available in June 2018 as part of Trend Micro’s Cloud App Security product for Microsoft Office 365 and the ScanMail Suite for Microsoft Exchange. It will also be included at no extra charge in other existing BEC protection systems. Beta versions are already available.

BEC scams involve fake emails typically referencing payments and transfers. They can be designed to impersonate a foreign supplier requesting a fund transfer to a new account, CEOs and other executives making transfer requests to employees in finance, or an employee/executive asking vendors to make payments to a specified bank account.

Last year, the FBI reported that BEC attacks caused losses of roughly $5.3 billion between 2013 and 2016 to more than 40,000 victims, and Trend Micro predicts that the total will increase to $9 billion this year.

Trend Micro also announced this week the general availability of Phish Insight, a free phishing simulation platform designed to help IT teams train employees to spot attacks.

“All it takes is one administrator, four steps and five minutes to run a real-world exercise designed to mimic what employees might see at their desks,” Trend Micro said. “With the detailed reporting results, displayed in a handy graphical interface, IT teams can then tailor their education programs to make lasting behavioral changes.”

Phish Insight has been available in Asia for a year and Trend Micro has now announced that the service can be used for free by organizations all around the world.

Related: Two Scammers, Five Mules Arrested in BEC Bust

Related: Nigerian Sentenced to Prison in U.S. for BEC Scams

Related: Preventing Business Email Compromise Requires a Human Touch

Related: Fraud Campaign Targets Accounts Payable Contacts at Fortune 500 Firms

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.