KnowBe4 Foils CEO Fraud Attack Thanks to Security Awareness Training

“Phishing back the phishers”
Scammer attempts to trick KnowBe4 CFO into transferring $20,000 in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) but gets waylaid by internal security awareness training

KnowBe4’s Controller received a suspicious email from her “CTO” asking for her to take care of a wire transfer for him. Since the Controller, Alanna C. was well versed in what to look for, she immediately went to the CEO, Stu Sjouwerman, who decided to play along. The attacker had done some superficial research on the company and was able to identify the Controller and CTO.

“Since we send millions of simulated phishing emails to our 2,000+ enterprise customers every year, we decided to have some fun with these scammers,” said KnowBe4’s CEO Stu Sjouwerman. Had the attacker spent a little more time to see what we actually do, he might have changed his mind from his attempt at wire fraud.”

KnowBe4 analyzed the criminal’s email and the email headers seemed to show the scammer signed up for a hosting account with GoDaddy to get access to an email delivery system. They used an open source mail client (RoundCube) to easily spoof email headers, and pick up the replied to emails on an AOL account.

KnowBe4 asked Controller Alanna to reply back and to simply ask “How much and where to?” The scammer’s reply back contained the bank wire information with real bank info but a fake company name and address.

KnowBe4 decided to phish back the phisher and created a fake AOL email which claimed the criminal’s account was locked. The bad guy fell for the ruse and clicked on the link which allowed KnowBe4 to get his IP address. This data was then sent over to the AOL security team and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Sjouwerman stated, “The damage done by cybercriminals is astounding. The FBI reported hundreds of millions in damage. About a third spot the fraud, another third are confused and engage but ultimately do not act and another third report compliance to the scammer and do the wire transfer. One scammer can get up to $250,000 in fraudulent transfers per month.”

  • The most advanced antivirus did not stop this attack.

  • Firewalls did not stop this attack.

  • Spam filters on the workstation and the email server did not stop this attack.

  • Two-Factor authentication did not stop this attack.

  • Intrusion Detection and/or Intrusion Prevention did not stop this attack.

  • Secure Web Applications did not stop this attack.

  • Encryption of data at rest and in flight did not stop this attack.

Sjouwerman also pointed out; “Alanna Cormier, Knowbe4’s Financial Controller received Kevin Mitnick Security Awareness Training and stopped this attack. You have to deploy defense-in-depth which has as its outer layer the very important points of Policy, Procedures & Awareness.”

Without training employees against social engineering attacks like these, they can be very costly when the hacker gets wire transfers out of the country. Effective security awareness training that combined interactive training and frequent simulated phishing attacks made the difference and averted a harmful attack.

About Stu Sjouwerman and KnowBe4

Stu Sjouwerman (pronounced “shower-man”) is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, LLC, which hosts the world’s most popular integrated Security Awareness Training and Simulated Phishing platform. A data security expert with more than 30 years in the IT industry, Sjouwerman was the co-founder of Inc. 500 company Sunbelt Software, a multiple award-winning anti-malware software company that was acquired 2010. Realizing that the human element of security was being seriously neglected, Sjouwerman decided to help organizations manage the problem of cybercrime social engineering tactics through new school security awareness training. KnowBe4 services 2000 organizations in a variety of industries, including highly-regulated fields such as healthcare, finance, energy, government and insurance and is experiencing explosive yearly growth of 300%. Sjouwerman is the author of four books, with his latest being “Cyberheist: The Biggest Financial Threat Facing American Businesses.”

About Kevin Mitnick

Kevin Mitnick, ‘the World’s Most Famous Hacker’,  is an internationally recognized computer security expert with extensive experience in exposing the vulnerabilities of complex operating systems and telecom devices. He gained notoriety as a highly skilled hacker who penetrated some of the most resilient computer systems ever developed. Today, Mitnick is renowned as an information security consultant and keynote speaker and has authored four books, including The New York Times best seller Ghost in the Wires. His latest endeavor is a collaboration with KnowBe4, LLC as its Chief Hacking Officer.

Media Contact
Company Name: KnowBe4
Contact Person: Kathy Wattman
Phone: 7274749950
Address:33 N Garden, Suite 1200
City: Clearwater
State: Florida
Country: United States