US web firm GoDaddy apologised Thursday after an email offering workers a Christmas bonus turned out to be a data security exam in the middle of the economic downturn.
“GoDaddy takes the security of our platform extremely seriously. We understand some employees were upset by the phishing attempt and felt it was insensitive, for which we have apologized,” a spokesman for GoDaddy, the largest internet domain management company in the world, told AFP in a statement, per CNA.
“While the test mimicked real attempts in play today, we need to do better and be more sensitive to our employees,” added the Arizona-based company.
About 500 workers clicked on an email from the organization in December promising a $650 Christmas incentive and demanding them to fill out a questionnaire with their personal information.
A new post emerged in their inboxes two days later.
“You are receiving this email because you failed our recent phishing test,” the email from GoDaddy’s security chief read, according to Arizona’s Copper Courier newspaper.
The phishing tactic, commonly utilized by computer hackers, sees emails claiming to be an entity identified to the intended recipient to acquire data to access their computer networks.
As millions of Americans have been struck hard by the global downturn related to the coronavirus pandemic, the test email caused controversy on social media.
Story Behind Phishing Email
While GoDaddy allegedly offered a $650 holiday bonus to its employees, it said itwas not an act of corporate goodwill. It was a phishing test that was especially tone deaf. And those who struggled were given extra work instead of increased cash.
That’s what happened to around 500 GoDaddy workers, the Copper Courier of Arizona posted. Earlier this month, the organization allegedly sent its workers an email offering one-time payouts to “show our appreciation” for “a record year for GoDaddy.” The communications requested staff to reply to collect their payments with specifics regarding their location and other facts.
Two days later, those who did were told that “you failed our recent phishing test,” and according to Copper Courier reporter Lorraine Longhi, they will be expected to complete a safety training. On Twitter, reports of the “test” sparked indignation, with several users threatening to move hosting services.
Although it is not uncommon for firms to submit bogus phishing emails to test their workers, it is especially cruel to pledge a holiday bonus amid a pandemic when millions are trying to remain fed and sheltered. As Longhi points out, after announcing strong increases in new clients on the last conference call, GoDaddy “laid off or reassigned hundreds of staff during the coronavirus pandemic.”