Hi, I’m James Linton, and in 2017 I used social engineering and spear phishing techniques to trick CEOs and Government Officials.
You can read more about my time as Sinon_reborn AKA “EMAIL PRANKSTER” here on Wikipedia.
I don’t think it was inevitable, going from email prankster (with zero knowledge of threats) to email protector, deal sealed with a high-five and a wink as I’m emailed the AWS keys.
But with a fascination for how powerful the digital written word can be, and with the headlines I made still fresh in everyone’s mind, I downloaded a task management app (OK so maybe I downloaded a few) and I entered the world of the Silicon Valley email tech start-up!
Well kinda. I was working remotely, but this was before it was fashionable!
The Silicon Valley years
I then spent 3 years working in email threat research, socially engineering cyber criminals to collect intelligence which was then passed onto law enforcement and financial institutions.
What was exciting for me was we had developed an in-house web app to allow us to semi-automate engagements with the threat actors, which dramatically increased the amount of data we could collect.
As the team I was a member of dived ever deeper into previously undocumented parts of the West African cyber criminal BEC gangs, I got to travel globally presenting the insights we were uncovering, as well as detailing how I knew from first-hand experience that social engineering could be incredibly successful.
I now focus on helping employees to make better security decisions when using email. But I believe it’s hard to care about something if you don’t understand it.
So I want to share what I have learnt, in a way that connects with those who don’t have any interest in the potential dangers — which is exactly as I was, just 4 years ago.