Kroll says growth in email compromise mean scams have doubled in first quarter of this year

A new report has said that cyber attacks on construction companies doubled in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2023.

Risk advisory firm Kroll said the increase in attacks was “most likely due to the increased sophistication of business email compromise for either financial gain or as a pivot into downstream attacks”.

It added: “[Construction] saw steady growth in email compromise over the past year, which could be driven by the nature of work in this industry, meaning that employees are often working via mobile devices or on site, where they may be more susceptible to attack.”

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Kroll said construction firms were at particular risk of email compromise because employees relied on them while out on site

Kroll said that attacks were getting more sophisticated and varied. “In particular, with regards to phishing, we saw SMS and voice-based tactics being used, which raises concern around the potential for deep fakes and AI-type technologies to further enhance the effectiveness of phishing attacks,” it said.

“One insider threat case investigated by Kroll this quarter saw employee impersonation take place, another area where AI-type technology could be especially effective.”

Last week, Arup confirmed that it was the victim of a deepfake fraud after an employee was duped into sending HK$200m (£20m) to criminals by an artificial intelligence-generated video call.

Arup said that at the beginning of the year it had “notified the police about an incident of fraud in Hong Kong”. It confirmed that fake voices and images were used.

Hong Kong police said in February a worker at a then-unnamed company had been tricked into transferring money by people on a hoax call “posing as senior officers of the company”. The police said no arrests had been made so far but the investigation was ongoing.