Desktop support pilot fish at a healthcare research facility finds a phishing email in his inbox one day -- or at least that's what it sort of looks like.
"Actually, it's so poorly formatted that it is immediately obvious to me that it was sent deliberately from our own company's headquarters," says fish.
"I puzzle over it for several moments, then I turn to my colleagues. 'Hey, did any of you guys just get a fake phish from HQ?' They all nod and agree that they can't figure out what HQ is up to, either. 'Hmm,' I say, 'OK, let me look into it and I'll let you know what I find out.'"
Fish clicks the link and is taken to a page that's hosted by his company but claims to be from iTunes. It asks him for his name. Remembering a gag he once saw on a TV show, he enters a pseudonym and clicks the Submit button.
That's when fish is informed that he has been "fooled by a phishing email" and will need to take remedial training.
Fish reports his findings to his coworkers and returns to work.
But a few days later, he gets a message from HR, giving him the link for the phishing training and a deadline for completing it.
In annoyance, he writes back to HR: "Of course I knew it was a phish, I've been working in desktop support since Clinton was president. And by the way, when the 'phishing site' asked me for my name, didn't you think it was kind of odd that I said 'Holden McGroin'? I shouldn't have to take this training."
There's no reply from HR.
But a few days after that, fish is in the weekly group meeting with his colleagues when his manager turns to him. "Middle management asked me to talk to you about your email to HR," she tells fish. "They say you do need to do the training, and they're also not pleased about your lackadaisical attitude toward network security."
She pauses. "That's the official response. The unofficial part is that they couldn't tell me that until they were done laughing at what you had done. But they also kind of hinted that I should let you know that it was the kind of thing that would be funny only once."
Reports fish, "My colleagues razz me -- "Ah, he still has to do the phishing training! But I bet he's sitting over there just thinking to himself, 'Totally worth it.'
"I just smile. But later that day, I do the training -- a five-minute-long webinar -- and file a mental reminder not to push my luck in the future."
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