This firm emailed staff to promise them a bonus. But it was just a cybersecurity test

A U.K. train operator sent out an email to staff promising a bonus for their work during the coronavirus pandemic, which actually turned out to be a cybersecurity test. 

West Midlands Trains recently sent an email to around 420 members of staff in managerial roles, to offer them a one-off payment to thank them for their work during the pandemic. 

A copy of the email was posted by the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, a trade union in the sector, on its website. WMT's email said it hoped that this "gift will inspire you to keep up the good work." 

It also presented staff with a link to click on to receive more information on their bonus and to see a message from WMT's Managing Director Julian Edwards. 

However, once staff clicked on the link, they received an email notifying them that the email was a test. A copy of this follow-up email was also posted on TSSA's website which said that the original message was meant to entice staff by using both the "promise of thanks and financial reward to try and convince you to provide your details." 

A spokesperson for WMT said that this "important test was deliberately designed with the sort of language used by real cyber criminals but without the damaging consequences." 

The spokesperson said the operator ran exercises to test the company's cybersecurity resilience, as fraud costs the transport industry "billions of pounds every year." 

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes called the simulated scam a "cynical and shocking stunt," in a statement. 

"The company must now account for their totally crass and reprehensible behavior," he said. 

Cortes called for an apology and said that "WMT must now be as good as their word and stump up a bonus to each and every worker."

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