Alcoa Phishing Scandal Could Happen to Anyone

Thu, Jul 31, 2014

Alcoa, the world's third largest aluminum producer, received a mass of e-mails one day from the former CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn--or so that seemed to be the source. When a number of employees opened the contents of the e-mail, it opened their computers to a number of venomous infiltrations.

Some 3000 e-mails, were stolen, containing sensitive information of various sorts. The number is astounding, especially considering the phishing scandal was technologically fairly simple.

Phishing, a scam using the personal emails--or accounts posturing as one known to the user--happen all the time in short order. The scam is designed to compromise computers and extract everything from credit card and financial information, information you’d rather keep personal (think: fertility clinic), infects your computer, and can, like any virus, live in it like as its host.

A friend who managed private equity high-end clients ended up having an urgent e-mail request for a quarter million dollars in a day. My friend’s service almost wired the money were it not for phone calls it eventually made. I’m sure many of you have friends with, or even your own stories, that are similar with phishing. Remember that friend in Myanmar who was stranded and needed a thousand dollars--quick?

Encryption companies, such as Penango, not only encrypt e-mail, so that only the sender and the intended reader can read the information sent, but they can authenticate from whom the email has been sent. If Mr. Ghosn authenticated his emails, everyone would have immediately have known it was not an email sent by him. These emails can be discarded, computers protected, and in the cases above, no fretting over whether a high end client really needs a quick wire of 250 grand, no 3000 emails being peeled through by any source they are handed to thereafter, no breaches of this magnitude.

In this day in age, computer scams may be growing in number and sophistication, but so are encryption techniques and authentication. Securing your email can be done at home and at the office by an easy download. Our tool is simple and clean on the screen, leaving virtually unchanged one's email service except for the option to encrypt and authenticate.

By Garren Tinney

phishing, scams, stolen identity