The email account of Binny Bansal, CEO of e-commerce giant, Flipkart is reportedly been ‘spoofed’ and an attempt made to steal $80,000 using his email address.
The incident took place two weeks back, when a seemingly official mail went from Bansal to the company’s CFO Sanjay Baweja asking him to transfer $80,000. The crime-in-progress was stopped after Baweja, noting the oddity of the request checked with Bansal in person.
Flipkart said an official complaint has been lodged with the police.
Initial media reports citing police sources said that the spoof mails originated from Hong Kong and Canada using a server in Russia,
The incident was first reported as a hacking incident. A Flipkart spokesperson later clarified that it was a case of spoofing and not hacking.
In a statement issued the company said, “We would like to clarify it is not a case of hacking. Flipkart’s corporate email system leverages the highest standards of security including but not limited to two factor authentication. We have filed a case of email spoofing which involves use of a forged email header to make it look like a legitimate email. This case of email spoofing was immediately detected and a report was filed with the police.”
While colloquially the two terms are interchangeable, in technically they are not. Experts clarified that spoofing is a tool used by crackers (breaking into a network), where an email can be used to appear like an official message. Again from a purely technical standpoint, hacking is not considered illegal though the term has gained notoriety as something done with a malicious intention.
Bansal in January this year had taken over as CEO of Flipkart, a development that also saw the then CEO Sachin Bansal elevate to the role of Executive Chairman. A month later the company reported the exit of Mukesh Bansal, head of commerce platform. Mukesh Bansal came on board after Flipkart had bought over fashion ecommerce company Myntra in 2014 for $375 million. Mukesh Bansal had co-founded Myntra in 2007.
The three Bansals are not related.