Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Day I Was Erased Digitally

Webnotes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also featured on WBTV Channel 3's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Theresa Payton and Kristen Miranda

It’s everyone’s worst night nightmare - eveyrthing digital in your life gets wiped out.  Your phone, your computer, your tablet, every email address, social network profile.  For a minute, you may fantasize and say “that could be fun!” but then you realize there would be nothing funny about losing all that access because someone is in all of your devices and accounts.  This is not a sci-fi movie either.  It really does happen, and most of you probably didn’t know that even techies and security experts worry about this happening to them.   This case was a tragic case and unprecedented but cyber security expert, Theresa Payton, talks about how this can happen to anyone and some tips to stay a little safer online.


1.  LINKING ACCOUNTS:  It’s convenient but if someone compromises one account, they are into everything

2.  PRIVACY SETTINGS AND SECURITY SETTINGS:  Look for additional features such as hiding your email address, or secure sign ons that take an extra step

3.  BACK UP FILES:  Just in case this happens to you, back up your files and not just to the cloud.  Consider an external drive.

4.  KNOW YOUR OPTIONS:  Look up all your favorite accounts NOW before you are hacked to find out who you call or email during an issue; have those on hand in case the worst happens

5. CLOUD AND LOCATOR OPTIONS:  They actually got to his devices through the cloud and locator options; just a word of caution when you use those services that they could be used against you!  


Mountain Lion - We’re not talking the wild here!  This is the new operating system for the Mac by Apple.  200 new features such as a revamped messaging and sharing platform.


Detailed account of Mat Honan’s hack is at:

Apple Support:

Amazon Support:

Google Support:

Avoiding Porn on Pinterest

Webnotes taken by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also featured on WBTV Channel 3's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Theresa Payton and Kristen Miranda
Pinterest gets 4 million unique visits each day to their site.   Unfortunately, with that traffic and popularity comes undesirable effects like the porn pushers.  One viewer was so concerned at the amount of porn she was being tricked into seeing on the site, she wrote to us to ask us to do a segment on this very topic.   
There is nothing worse than searching Pinterest for that favorite recipe, typing in search words and seeing porn.  The worst offender on Pinterst?  The “Everything” stream of pins.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, tells us how to avoid the porn.


1.  Specific search terms:  Be specific about what you are looking for on Pinterest.  Many of the porn pins hide behind “Everything”

2.  Red Flag:  Look at the profile creating the pins, do they follow a lot of people but few people follow them back?  Usually a red flag if nobody wants to follow them.

3.  Pin Search:  Go outside Pinterest and do a search for your area of interest and Pinterest pins, that may help you determine the pins you want to follow.

4.  Likes / Repins:  Pay attention to the Likes and Repins.  If the Repin number seems skyrocket high, there might be a spammer behind it

5.  Know Your Rights:  Read Pinterest’s Pin Etiquette and the Terms of Service.  Don’t be shy about flagging pins that you think are inappropriate.

5.  Reporting a Pin:  It’s 3 easy and quick steps - Click on the pin, Choose “report a pin”, type in your reason


Green Teens:  A term created by Jupiter Research that describes online teens (age 13 to 17) who use their online presence to promote environmental friendly practices such as recycling, cleaning up streams, and renewable energy.


Pin Etiquette

terms of service  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dr. Cedric Sims on "Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are you naked online?" by Theresa Payton

Excerpt taken from: Dr. Cedric Sims Talks DHS, Cybersecurity and Texas Heritage by Morgan Barker ( August 3, 2012

"WashingtonExec:  What’s on your summer reading list?
Dr. Cedric Sims: I’m very fortunate and blessed to have four wonderful children; one has just entered into her teen years. As a father, I’m very concerned about making sure that she has the beneficial aspects of the internet and few of its negatives. There is a great book that has recently been released by a person that I respect greatly and the book is called Protecting Your Identity: Are You Naked Online? It was written by Theresa Payton who is a fantastic security executive. Even more importantly, the book is written in plain English and it has relevance to those in this industry and those that are not. I highly recommend it.  After you read it, you will want to give it to your family and your coworker, alike.

WashingtonExec: You discussed a book about protecting your identity online…what are the biggest threats to the individual posed by cyberspace?
Dr. Cedric Sims: Complacency and expectations of anonymity.  We all know the dangers of the internet.  We have passwords for all our accounts, whether they are Facebook, Twitter, email or financial systems.  However, recent breaches and the public display of captured passwords show that the message is still not getting through to our community.  In the case of the Yahoo breach, one of the most common passwords is ’123456.’  Fortunately, most financial institutions force the use of complex passwords.  Which brings me to my next point.  Our youngest users of the Internet do not understand the life-long, permanent trail of pictures, thoughts, and deeds that are being amassed every minute, every day.  There is limited anonymity in cyberspace.  If you do not take explicit action to protect your private information, consider it public.  Sometimes, even our best efforts are not enough."

To read the whole article, click here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cybertheives Prey on Worried Parents

Webnotes by: Theresa Payton, Fortalice, LLC. Content also featured on WBTV's "Protecting Your Cyberturf" segment featuring Theresa Payton and Kristen Miranda.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.  Your child calls and they are out of the country and going to jail.  They are upset.  You are upset.  It’s hard to get all the details during the phone call, but it doesn’t really matter - you would do anything to free them.  The problem is, more often than not, it’s a scam of the worst kind.  Taking advantage of you to make you give up your wallet without asking questions.  

Cyberthieves are trolling internet information and hide behind the anonymity of the net and a convincing phone call to trick parents out of thousands of dollars.  I know it sounds like this scam would be easy to spot but it’s so scary, so emotional, and happens so often even Western Union employees are trained to ask questions when an upset parent is wiring money.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, explains.


1.  Cyber thieves will troll internet phone books and online databases looking for targets

2.  They will do internet searches to find mentions of family or friends

3.  The more sophisticated ones will even surf social networks to learn nick names, pet names, and other details to make the phone call more convincing

4.  Armed with data, they usually call in the middle of the night so their potential victim will be groggy


1.  AREA/COUNTRY CODE:  Look up the country code / area code of the call to make sure it matches the location they claim to be in.  Many of these internet & phone call scams originate in Quebec, Canada-area code "914".  

2.  HURRY & DON’T TELL ANYONE:  The caller will say - “Don’t tell anyone” and then will talk about embarrassment or making it worse.  That’s the hook.  If you feel you must commit while on the phone, do so but BEFORE YOU SEND ANY MONEY, contact the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) at 1-888-407-4747. We will help you verify whether the situation is legitimate or a scam!

3.  DON’T CALL MY NUMBER:  Call all the numbers of the loved one that is “in jail” first even if you are convinced that they are in danger and you are on your way to the Western Union to wire money.

4.  SEND CASH QUICKLY:  Any requirements to send 1 or more wires quickly is a red flag


In advance, choose a code word that family members will know for emergencies.  Make sure it is something that you would never share on social media sites.  If this ever happens to you, it’s one more piece of information to detect if your loved one is in trouble or if you are being scammed!


1.  Call your bank immediately

2.  Report it to your local law enforcement

3.  Report the incident to the
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) - this is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

WORD OF THE WEEK:  BLACKHOLE MALWARE.  This is a virus spreading mostly via twitter.  It sends you to their “black hole” and while you think you are at a legitimate site, when you click on a link it “talks” to a site in Russia that will attempt to download.  This virus is morphing and has been seen in tweets about traffic tickets, photos, and news.  Think before you click!


Check the State Department’s website where they cover this type of scam:

File a report with the
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Western Union has tips on avoiding fraud at:

Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection

File a complaint with the
State Attorneys General Office of Consumer Affairs