Thursday, June 28, 2012

Question from AMERICA NOW! News 6/28

Content also featured on, for which Theresa Payton serves as a Cyber Expert.

Question: I keep getting pop up to check your credit scores "because of a problem." It said it is free, but you need to enter credit card information to see your credit score.  Is this a scam??

Answer: Even though some pop ups might be legitimate, it is best to avoid clicking on pop ups altogether because this is a common tool for cybercriminals to trick you into turning over your personal information.  You are entitled to a free credit report annually.  I always suggest to space out your requests to asking one credit reporting agency at a time, once a quarter so you can get a look at yourself more than once a year.  You can go to the sites for Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.  If you prefer to check all three at the same time, a handy site to help you with that is 

Teens going around the the digital world

Webnotes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also covered on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

A new study is out.  70% of teens hide their online behavior very well from their parents.  This according to a McAfee study.  Now if you say, not my teen, just remember the number again 7 out of 10 teens or 70% are going around the rules online.

That’s right.  Also according to this study, 73.5% of parents say they trust that their teens stay away from content that is not appropriate but 43% of teens look at online violence every day.  And 22.8% of parents say they are so overwhelmed, they just hope for the best.  Well, we want to help you do more than hope for the best so Cyber Expert is with us tonight to share some tips.

How your teens keep you from following their tracks.

The top 3 activities:
1.  Clearing the browser history when they are done surfing.
2.  Closing what they look at when the parent enters the room
3.  Hiding and deleting instant messages and videos

What else are they doing?

Well 15% admit they have hacked into someone else’s social media account.
32% of teens admitted they have accessed porn online on purpose

What can you do?
1.  Talk to your kids
2.  Be Where Your Kids are online
3.  Set parental controls
4. Obtain email and social network passwords
5.  Look into features and options from your mobile phone company for usage and tracking options

TUMBLR:  If you have a teen at home, chances are they use this!  It’s a mashup of blogs and social networking.

If Facial Recognition Creeps You Out, What You Can Do About It

Webnotes created by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice LLC.  Content also covered on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

Not sure if you saw the news but Facebook recently announced that they are buying  Facebook already uses their technology but now they can take facial recognition to a whole new level.

Let us explain the fun and the dangers of facial recognition and some tips you can use to protect yourself.

Facebook has one of the largest photo databases in the world now as people post, upload, and share photos of everything to their dog, cat, vacation spot, and family reunions.  Today, Facebook tries to determine if the photos belong to Facebook users.  It sounds innocent enough, you upload a picture and the system helpfully suggests who it is.  But  cyber expert, Theresa Payton says while the productivity is fun, she is concerned for your security and privacy.

1.  Security and Privacy Concerns:  Facebook’s software isn’t just about placing a name with a face.  If you think about how people use the like button, connect to groups, connect to each other, a tagged photo gives additional context.  Hackers would love to have this information about you.

2.   Turning it “off”:  You cannot stop Facebook’s facial recognition software.  It’s just there.  However, you can tune the settings so Facebook will not suggest you to your friends and you can make the system ask your permission before tagging you in a photo.

Go to “privacy settings”
Choose “Timeline and tagging” and choose “edit settings”
Where the option says, “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?” to “No one”.

Don’t forget, when it comes to Facebook and many other social media platforms, you typically have to “opt out” of their policy to be wide open with your information!

4CHAN:  If you have a teen at home, chances are they are using this!  It’s considered an “image board” like a Pinterest.  It’s a site that lets people post images and videos anonymously.  Rickrolling and LOLCats got their start there. 

Facebook changed YOUR email address...what you can do about it

Webnotes created by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice LLC. Content also featured on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment hosted by Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

Just when you think you understand the Facebook privacy policy and your Facebook settings they throw everyone for a loop.  If you have not noticed lately, there is something new about you on Facebook.  You have an email address that you never asked for showing up on your profile and its “your name +”.  What does all this mean?  

Many of you might have signed up for Facebook’s service when they tried to launch a mail program a while back but most of you probably didn’t.  We’re not surprised that we’re hearing from many of you asking if there is anything you can do about this.  The answer is yes and no and cyber expert, Theresa Payton, explains.

1.  Go to your profile and you will see the address

2.  Go to Timeline and click on “about” under your contact info

3.  Select “edit” within your contact info

4.  You will see several crossed out circle symbols - change them to a full circle for each inbox you want visible on your profile.  If you don’t want, just make it a crossed out circle.

This is important to do, especially for young kids, because if someone emails a message to their it will show up on their wall.


FRIENDSHAKE:  this was going to be an app that located other people on Facebook near you and created a way to meet other people.  When they launched it and it caught the attention of security and privacy experts that were concerned it would become a stalking app, Facebook shelved it...for now.  Speak up now because it’ll probably come back to the site in some form or another!


To keep up with the latest information about security and privacy issues on social media, an organization called EPIC does a great job keeping the public informed.  Their website is:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

High ALERT: Verizon Phishing Scam!!

Subject: Verizon Phishing Scam===Re: Your Bill Is Now Available
Importance: High

Be careful if you get an email from verizon like the one below.  It is part of a phishing scam.  It is very good since I saw the balance and started immediately to click the link but closed it when I saw the redirect.  The message is almost exactly like the actual one that Verizon sends every month, except the verizon one has the end of your account number in the red text.  The sending address is almost the same as verizon's as well, except for the "w" in the front.

So, be careful if you get something from verizon and don't click the links (go to their site directly) and definitely don't enter any information into it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Social MADNESS Competition: Fortalice finishes 3rd in local round!

This month our company has been participating in the Charlotte Business Journal's Social Madness Competition.  The local round just ended yesterday, with Fortalice finishing strong in the #3 spot (not bad for a small cybersecurity consulting firm, huh? :)  This competition has companies compete by getting the most votes on the CBJ's website, as well as showing a strong social media presence via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  In order for us to gain social media points, we need to gain more followers on all 3 of these account pages.  We now go head to head with the top 8 finishers from Charlotte and need your help to stay competitive! Please take a second to vote and follow us on our social media pages if you haven't had the chance to yet.  Also, in order to vote daily you will need to clear your cache and cookies in your browser.  Thanks everyone for your support!!

New Huffington Post Article: What Exactly is 'Internet Safety'?

Fortalice Chief Advisor, Theresa Payton, has written a new article for the Huffington Post in honor of June being "National Internet Safety Month." Check out the article and share cyber safety tips with friends and loved ones:!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I know what you tweeted last summer...and all the way back to May 2008!

Webnotes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also covered on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.
We have mentioned before that Twitter will send every tweet to the National Archives and the Library of Congress so watch what you tweet!  But now the access to past tweets is just a few clicks away and you don’t have to get out of your pajamas to access it!   

New tools are popping up and they can unleash a treasure trove of data in moments.  for the 140 million and growing user base that tweets over 400 million tweets per day this might be a little more than alarming!

Cyber Expert, Theresa Payton, explains.

When tools are new, people love to experiment with all the features available.  Although Twitter was launched in 2006, it really started gaining steam in 2008 and has quickly become one of the top 10 websites around the globe.  In the early days, people were tweeting, uploading pictures with geocodes, doing location check ins.  Many felt like they were just sharing all this information with a small group of people.  But these tweets leave behind clues that tell bad guys, potential employers, people you might date, people you might want to forget a lot about you.

What you may not realize is, that all Twitter accounts are searchable.  To test it on yourself and loved ones, try a tool like Topsy

Tips to Stay Safe:

1.  Tweet about a location AFTER you leave

2.  Think about the tweets you do, do they show a pattern of behavior that puts you in the best light for those that don’t know you?  do they provide patterns that you would not want a bad guy to see?

3.  If you post photos make sure geocodes are turned off unless you like someone tracking your digital tracks


POLITWOOPS:  this is a database of deleted tweets made by U.S. politicians that a group called Sunlight keeps online.   You can check out their feed at:


Here are a few of the Twitter search tools out there:

Check out the tool Topsy at

You can search for links that have been posted using Backtweets:
If you want to look for local tweeps that leave their location information turned on, check out Nearby Tweets:

If you want to see what tweets are the most popular, try searching on Tweetmeme:

Anyone that wants to track tweets by a specific location, including one on a Google Map, try Areaface:

What's that in the sky? It's a spy

Webnotes taken by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also covered on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.
We have talked to you before about the stunning accuracy and digital quality of Google Street view.  Some countries are so concerned about this data in the wrong hands, they have won court decisions to make Google offer you an option to blur your house or building.  But the story does not end there.

It’s like a global scrapbook.  Pictures of events, memories, place and people.  Except all these photos will be snapped via spy planes for Google and Apple.  Most of us have come to recognize the Google street car but these spies in the sky will be virtually unnoticeable.  This has Cyber Expert, Theresa Payton, alarmed because this data in the wrong hands could put not just your privacy at risk but your safety too.

Apple recently bought C3 technologies and the spy plane technology has already been tested in London and other cities

Google images used to come from satellite and their street car.  Now they will use spy planes.

Why this is concerning:

1.  These systems get glitches - remember how Google grabbed the WiFi network data from personal residences?

2.  If they snap photos of you on personal property how will they track you down for a personal consent form?  

3.  The images online now are creepy but the resolution down at the lower levels gets grainy for the satellite photos, we will not have that issue with the spy plane photos which are taken at roughly 1500 feet

4.  One report said that the cameras are so accurate that you could photograph people in their homes through their skylights - “Honey, no need to clean those skylights anymore!”

What it will do:

1.  Google plans to have 3D images of large towns and cities online by the end of this year

2.  Apple has already unveiled its new mapping program and plans to aggressively add more photos to their maps

What Can You Do About it?:

1.  Complain directly to Apple and Google and ask for opt out and privacy features

2.  Contact your Senator or Congress representative and tell them you are concerned and that you want regular updates on this matter


ICANN:  Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.  This is the international board that names all the internet domain names.  You probably heard about them recently because they announced new internet names to add to the list of .com, .net, and .biz.  You can see more about who they are at


If you want to voice your opinion on this, you can contact the following:

The Federal Trade Commision at

A group called the Center for Democracy and Technology has created a “Privacy Complaint Tool” which you can find at

If you are unsure on how to contact your elected official, you can go to these websites for this information:

For Congress
For the Senate:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cybercriminals Hide Behind Travel Emails

Webnotes taken by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also covered on WBTV's Protecting Your Cyberturf segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

We have told you before to think before you click that link.  And now we have another reminder.  Cybercriminals love to be where the action is and they know this is a peak travel season for most of you.  So where are they hiding now? 

Yes, they have found the perfect hiding place.  Travel confirmations!  They realize that more and more of you are booking all your travel online which means you are receiving your travel confirmations via the internet.  Often these confirmations include “links” to more information that you might need.  But cyber expert , Theresa Payton, says watch out and has a few tips for you, so you can avoid being tricked!

Here are the tips:

1.  YOU ARE THE BEST DEFENSE:  Never click on links in the email.  Even if you are positive it’s legitimate.  Look at the email closely, does all the information match your travel dates?  Do not click on the links in the email.  Instead, go to that site directly to pull  your reservation information.

2.  SITES YOU DON’T USE:  If you start receiving confirmations from sites you don’t use for booking, it’s a red flag you are being scammed.

3.  KNOWN EMAIL SCAMS:  There are several known “bad sites” or “scams” floating around out there so arm yourself with knowledge so you can put those scam emails in the trash.  Keep up with the latest scams at sites like and  You can also type in a few lines from the email into a search engine in quotes and include the word scam to see what pops up.

4.  PROTECT YOURSELF:  Make sure your browser and anti virus are up to date to add an extra layer of protection



You are going to wish you had one of these!  The term first came from the Ritz Carlton when an employee figured out that business travelers needed help connecting to the internet.  They created the official job title of “technology butler” and many hotels have created a similar concept!  The Ritz offers a technology butler 24X7.

Safer, smarter surfing for kids!

Webnotes taken by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also covered in WBTV's Protecting Your Cyberturf segment featuring Kristen Miranda and Theresa Payton.

More and more parents are buying a smart phone for their kids.  Some for safety reasons and others as a way to stay in touch.  But that creates new dangers to worry about.  Who are they texting?  Are they being cyberbullied?  How would I know if they had bad things happening on that little super computer in their pocket?  

We have covered the horror stories for you before.  We talked to you about crazy cell phone bills and kids texting while driving with disastrous consequences.  The good news is, the phone companies seem to be listening and so are the software companies.  You have a lot more options than you might think.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, explain some of those options.  Keep in mind that most have a fee so check the fees before you sign.


1.  RISKY BUSINESS:  Want to be alerted if your kid texts let at night, gets texts from someone you don’t know, or is running up a large bill of downloads?  There’s an app for that!  Sprint offers  a mobile controls service.

2.  TEXTING WHILE DRIVING:  Many of the major phone companies let you add this service.  If the phone detects it is moving at 10 or more miles per hour, it will disable texting.

3.  TALK, TALK, TALK:  Most of the major carriers now let you limit outbound phone calls to specific days of the week or hours of the day but still allow 911 calls or calls to specific phone numbers.

4.  PUTTING GPS TO WORK FOR YOU:  Most of the major carriers let you set up zones and when your child leaves a zone it will notify you.  Some of them let you track where they are.  


SALTED HASH:  salted hash refers to a way of encrypting your passwords so they are harder to crack.  Hashing a password helps you encrypt it before it is stored.  Adding “salt” to the “hash” makes it a little harder for bad guys to decipher the code!


The following will guide you as to what your choices are, by carrier.



T Mobile: