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KnowBe4 Says South Carolina Department of Revenue Hack Could Have been Prevented

The South Carolina Dept. of Revenue was recently hacked, but Security Awareness Training Company, KnowBe4, says the attack was unnecessary and could have been prevented.

CLEARWATER, Fla., Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In August 2012, yet not reported until October, one malicious email opened by an employee of the South Carolina Department of Revue caused a massive cyberattack – theft of 3.8 million tax returns, Social Security numbers of 1.9 million people, access to data on 699,900 business tax returns and 3.3 million bank accounts, according to NBC.com. KnowBe4, an internet security awareness training firm, says that attacks like this could be prevented by training employees not to fall for attacks by hackers using phishing emails.

An international hacker sent South Carolina Department of Revenue employees an email containing an embedded link to a website infected with malware. Unfortunately, one employee unknowingly clicked on the link (1). From that one click, the cybercriminal was able to steal the employee's "secure" user name and password. For weeks after, the cybercriminal started copying large amounts of information and transferring them onto zip files that were transferred outside of the system.

Stu Sjouwerman, CEO and founder of KnowBe4, states that attacks like this can be prevented and millions of dollars, accounts, and identities can be safeguarded. KnowBe4 specializes in protecting governmental agencies against cybercrime. "The hacker literally got into the [South Carolina] system just by one single email that was clicked on," Sjouwerman commented. "We have been noticing that infrastructure companies and government organizations have not yet taken the necessary employee security awareness training to prevent cyberattacks."

Sjouwerman realized the best way to stop a cybercrime is to think like a hacker, so he partnered with formerly 'The World's Most-wanted Hacker,' Kevin Mitnick. Kevin Mitnick gained notoriety for penetrating the complex and highly protected computer systems of companies such as Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment Corporation, Pacific Bell, and Motorola. Today, he applies his vast knowledge of social engineering, phishing tactics, and network vulnerabilities as a good-guy, consulting for the Fortune 100, and sometimes the very companies he attacked.

KnowBe4 and Kevin Mitnick developed Kevin Mitnick Security Awareness Training. This security awareness training uses knowledge of the latest cybercrime tactics in real-time to train government employees from being duped by cyberattacks. The training is interactive and web-based, and includes case studies, live demonstration videos and short tests. 

"Just one click can cost an organization millions of dollars, or in this recent case, millions of stolen identities," Sjouwerman added. "Employee training is essential to prevent costly cyberattacks – [KnowBe4] has access to the world's foremost hacking expert to ensure the proper safety measures are taken."

Local governments can get started today by requesting a free phishing security test and a free email exposure check (EEC), which will reveal all email addresses that are publicly available to cybercriminals.

For more information on how KnowBe4 can protect against cybercrime, visit http://www.knowbe4.com/products/kevin-mitnick-security-awareness-training.

To view Sjouwerman's interview on CBS regarding cybercrime, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dultIFSgQS0.

About Stu Sjouwerman and KnowBe4
Stu Sjouwerman is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, LLC, which provides web-based Internet Security Awareness Training (ISAT) to small and medium-sized enterprises.  A data security expert with more than 30 years in the IT industry, Sjouwerman was the co‑founder of Inc. 500 company Sunbelt Software, an award-winning anti-malware software company that he and his partner sold to GFI Software in 2010.  Realizing that the human element of security was being seriously neglected, Sjouwerman decided to help entrepreneurs tackle cybercrime tactics through advanced security awareness training.  He and his colleagues work with companies in many different industries, including highly-regulated fields such as healthcare, finance and insurance.  Sjouwerman is the author of four books, with his latest being Cyberheist:  The Biggest Financial Threat Facing American Businesses Since the Meltdown of 2008.  Visit www.knowbe4.com or www.knowbe4.com/cyberheist-the-book.

(1)   Isikoff, Michael. NBCnews.com, November 20, 2012. "One email exposes millions of people to data theft in South Carolina," http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/20/15313720-one-email-exposes-millions-of-people-to-data-theft-in-south-carolina-cyberattack?lite=  

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