In part one of TechRepublic’s four-part series “Mastermind con man behind Catch Me If You Can talks cybersecurity” TechRepublic’s Karen Roby sat down with Frank Abagnale, the famous con man turned FBI Academy instructor, who inspired the Leonardo DiCaprio character in the movie Catch Me if You Can to discuss his work at the FBI’s law enforcement training and research center and what C-suite executives need to know regarding cybersecurity.
The following is an edited transcript of their interview held at Louisville’s Bowman Field Regional Airport.
Why breaches happen
Karen Roby: What do you tell CIOs and CEOs about cybersecurity?
Frank Abagnale: Well, first of all, I tell them that the most important thing that they have to do is educate their employees, and the most important job they have is protecting the information that’s been entrusted to them by their clients. So, that’s the most important thing.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are not trained by their companies, and so they fall for phishing scams, or they fall for social engineering scams over the phone where they give away a lot of information where they shouldn’t. People are basically honest and because they’re honest, they don’t have a deceptive mind. So, when they see an email that looks very official looking, they assume that it is real.
I’ve been an instructor at the FBI Academy for 43 years. I’ve taught two generations of FBI agents who’ve gone through the academy. What’s amazing to me is how much easier crime is than when I did it 50 years ago. It’s actually 4,000 times easier because I didn’t have all of the technology that exists today. So, technology absolutely breeds crime. It always has, and there will always be people who will use technology in a negative, self-serving way.