Menu
Belgian government phishing test goes off-track

Belgian government phishing test goes off-track

A drill caused confusion when a regional government impersonated a rail company without informing it

Digital key

Digital key

An IT security drill went off the tracks in Belgium, prompting a regional government office to apologize to European high-speed train operator Thalys for involving it without warning.

Belgium's Flemish regional government sent a mock phishing email to about 20,000 of its employees to see how they would react.

The email purported to be a booking confirmation from Thalys for a trip from Brussels to Paris, including a stay in a fancy hotel. The cost -- almost €20,000 (about US$22,000) -- would be charged to the recipient's credit card unless the person cancelled within three days, the email said.

To cancel the trip, the email instructed recipients to send their credit card information to Thalys, Belgian media reported.

Rather than hand over such information, though, government employees started calling Thalys to complain, to the bewilderment of its staff: The government had neglected to inform Thalys of the drill and nobody in the company's call center knew what was going on.

Some government employees also reported the matter to the police.

Frank Geets, the Flemish government's administrator-general for facility management, said the government went a bit off the rails by not informing Thalys of the drill.

"We made the mail as realistic as possible and used Thalys' logo. But actually, we did not have their permission to do so," Geets told Flemish news channel VTM, adding that the government has apologized to Thalys for "being a bit overzealous."

While phishing attacks against staff are a perennial problem for large organizations, training to defend against them needs to be done with care and forethought. The Flemish government is not the first to discover this: An anti-phishing exercise by a U.S. Army commander went farcically wrong last year.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitygovernmentThalys

Featured

Slideshows

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30

Leading figures within the technology industry across New Zealand came together to celebrate 30 years of success for Lexel Systems, at a milestone birthday occasion at St Matthews in the City.​

Tech industry comes together as Lexel celebrates turning 30
HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch

HP New Zealand held an inaugural Evolve Education event at Aotea Centre in Auckland, welcoming over 70 principals, teachers and education experts to explore ways of shaping and enhancing learning using technology.

HP re-imagines education through Auckland event launch
Reseller News ICT Industry Awards 2017 - Meet the winners...

Reseller News ICT Industry Awards 2017 - Meet the winners...

Reseller News honoured the industry’s finest on a standout evening for the New Zealand channel, recognising the achievements of established and emerging partners on a memorable night in Auckland.

Reseller News ICT Industry Awards 2017 - Meet the winners...
Show Comments