Masked Email Targets CEO

It seems as if every week, sometimes every day, we hear about a data breach somewhere.  I had an attempted breach hit really close to home just recently.  Here’s what happened:

Our controller received an email that she had every reason to believe was from me.  My email address was spelled properly and the extension was correct.  Inside the email, the request was short and straightforward; the sender asked what information was needed to initiate a wire transfer and it was signed with my first name.  The controller did note that there was no email signature as we sometimes use, but internally I don’t always include that on my emails to her.

She responded to the request and very shortly received a second email instructing her to proceed with the sizeable wire transfer.  I was out of the office that day so she assumed that I was in a rush for the money.  However, at the very last minute, as she thought about the wording in the email, she said that it “just didn’t sound like me.”  The wording was too terse, too abrupt and there were no “please” or “thank you’s” as she and I usually include in our requests to one another.  She picked up the phone and called me.  The wire transfer was stopped.

The sender had masked his/her email address so that it appeared as an email from me.  Had our recipient hovered over the address, she might have been able to see the actual sender’s address.  In this case, however, this employee listening to that tiny voice in her mind saying that something wasn’t quite right is what saved the day.  This is the level of vigilance we must all maintain to keep our environments safe.

When in doubt, no matter how small, check it out.

-Elaine Taylor, RealTime CEO