Portland-based hardware company tests employees’ reactions to scam emails and encourages them to share their suspicions and be careful what they click on.
By Missy Sheehan, Owner, Sheehan Writing & Editing
The test consisted of sending two harmless fake phishing emails to Chown employees to see whether they’d click on the links they contained. The first email claimed to offer free burritos at a new food cart in the neighborhood.
The second email, sent a few days later, was made to look like it was from Chown Hardware’s IT department and requested that employees click a link and provide information to help fix a problem with the email server.
Out of Chown Hardware’s 100 employees who received the emails, 22 clicked on the link for a free burrito, and 56 employees clicked on the link in the second email. “It was eye-opening,” said Kyle Chown, Commercial Division Manager for Chown Hardware. Since the scam email test, the company has begun training employees to recognize scams and encouraging them to warn their co-workers about any suspicious emails they receive.
For Kris Lake, Door and Frame Engineer/Estimator for Chown Hardware’s Architectural Hardware Division, the scam test reinforced the importance of sharing information about possible scams with others. Lake was one of several employees who were quick to warn co-workers about the fake phishing emails. He says a poor Photoshop job on the burrito cart’s logo tipped him off to the first scam email. Fewer employees noticed the red flag in the second email: It came from IT@chown.co. The company’s domain is chown.com. Those who noticed the error were quick to raise the alarm again, though.
Sharing information about scams helps protect Chown Hardware employees at work and at home, according to Lake. “They learn it here [at work], and then they take that to their personal lives,” he says. “There are certainly people who went through this [scam test] and realized ‘Oh, maybe I do need to be more careful about what I click on.’”