Company Gives Workers a Painful Phishing Lesson

Email promised holiday bonuses, if employees would just click on these links first
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2020 10:00 AM CST
Company Gives Workers a Painful Phishing Test
The logo for GoDaddy is displayed on a computer screen on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The timing was about right, and the sentiment seemed genuine. Hundreds of GoDaddy employees received an email on Dec. 14 saying, "2020 has been a record year for GoDaddy, thanks to you," the Copper Courier of Arizona reports. "Though we cannot celebrate together during our annual Holiday Party, we want to show our appreciation and share a $650 one-time Holiday bonus!" Just click on the links below to provide a few details to ensure the bonus arrived quickly, the email said. The Scottsdale company did have record growth during this pandemic year, per Gizmodo, though it had layoffs. A small gesture might have seemed appropriate, but that was never the plan. Instead, about 500 workers were told two days later that they'd failed a phishing test. There were no bonuses.

Those who failed the test by clicking on the links, the web hosting company's chief security officer wrote in the second email, "will need to retake the Security Awareness Social Engineering training." The bonus email had been sent from, but GoDaddy has its own email service, making the bad email easy enough to fall for. The Scottsdale company did report a data breach last year, per Forbes. "We understand some employees were upset by the phishing attempt and felt it was insensitive, for which we have apologized," a spokesperson told Gizmodo. The exercise inspired the Verge to create the Most Evil Company Email Of The Year Award and make GoDaddy the first winner. There's no bonus with the honor. (More GoDaddy stories.)

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