GoDaddy Conducts Terribly Tone-Deaf Email Phishing Experiment With Its Own Employees

GoDaddy recently conducted an internal phishing test under the guise of holiday bonus emails for their employees.

GoDaddy, for those unfamiliar (and probably all the better off for it), is a public domain registrar and web hosting agency, situated in Scottsdale, Arizona. Its services include registering and auctioning domain names, along with providing websites access to the World Wide Web.

The company has made itself notoriously unpopular with a bunch of different groups. It enraged more or less the entire internet with its backing of the SOPA act, with Wikipedia and Imgur's founders taking their domains off of GoDaddy's hands. It butted heads with animal rights activists on two separate occasions, and had a host of fraudulent and extremist sub-domains under its wing (unwittingly so, it must be stated). The company even started out with a bunch of rather sexist and objectifying ad campaigns, although the new guard seems to have entirely distanced themselves from that aspect of GoDaddy's past.

Recently, GoDaddy's workforce received an email from the domain name happyholidays [@] Hailing 2020 as a milestone year for the company, the email congratulated all the hard work staff members poured in to make this happen. In return, GoDaddy was offering a holiday bonus of $650 for everyone! All everyone had to do were enter some personal details, and wrap up the year on a high note. Truly, what a lovely, caring company.

Of course, things turned sour rather soon. 2 days later, a new string of emails were sent to approximately 500 employees. This email, starkly different in tone, informed the workforce that people who replied with their details had failed a surprise phishing test conducted by the company. These very individuals were now expected to retake a seminar on online security and awareness.

It truly takes a special kind of tone-deafness to send out a message like this. 2020 saw an entire pandemic shake the lives of ordinary citizens across the world. The economy slowed down, jobs were lost, benefits were cut. GoDaddy itself had to lay of hundreds of employees, despite a new record of 20 million customers having been attained this year. Mental health took a severe toll in the social isolation, and people were honestly glad to get back to work.

To take the hard work of one's employees, which was consistently present despite the social distancing, and repay it with a trick message is already in poor taste. To have that trick email feature a $650 bonus during a year of economic downfall is infuriating and monstrous. Not only has the company completely disregarded the hard work and effort its employees put in, it actively chooses to disrespect and make light of it.

Later on, the web hosting giant released an apology statement saying that, "It takes the security of its platform extremely seriously. Godadday understands some employees were upset by this phishing attempt and felt it was insensitive, for which they have apologized".

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket / Getty Images

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