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SYS-CON.TV Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

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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