Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Really? Hack into email and it's okay?

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

Judge rules it’s okay to hack and read email.  No, really!

Remember during the last election cycle how a young man hacked into Governor Sarah Palin’s account and posted her emails?  U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips convicted him of a misdemeanor charge in accessing Sarah Palin’s e-mail.  We have told you before that our laws have not kept up with the digital age .  Well, in a stunning new court decision, the exact opposite happened, leaving security and privacy experts concerned that this sets a bad example for other would be email hackers.  

This is unbelievable.  We all have some semblance of expecting our personal email correspondence stored by email providers like Google and Yahoo is safe from unauthorized access.  Sure, we know hackers might get in but in our minds, that’s breaking the law and if they were found they would be punished.  But might want to rethink that.  The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that such data in not protected by the Stored Communications Act (SCA).  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, is concerned by this and believes it sets a bad example and precedent for other would be email snoops.

To the layman, snooping into someone’s emails, is considered wrong.  To us, this appears to be black and white but it clearly is not. Until we get laws that have caught up with the digital age, we will continue to have court case decisions that will be hard to predict or explain.

Husband, Lee Jennings, was confronted by his wife about an affair.  Once he admitted to the affair, she worked with another person to guess his password for his email account and read his email messages.  Many of his messages were printed and turned over to her divorce attorney in building a case against him.  Lee sued his wife and ultimately lost in the SC Supreme Court.

1.  LAWS ARE OLD:  Many of the laws on the books are old.  Some have been “retro fitted” to add digital

2.  LACK OF PRECEDENCE:  Courts go by laws and also follow case precedents.  In this case the court reviewed the SCA law and said it did not fit this particular case.

3.  LACK OF PREDICTABILITY:   Many expected the husband to win this case but the SC Supreme Court Justices ruled that since his emails were not created for the purpose of backing up his data, the emails are not covered by the SCA

4.  WHAT IS THE SCA?   Stored Communications Act.  This covers the protection of electronic storage.  However, the SC Supreme Court does not see your email inbox or folders as “storage” even though the SCA says “any temporary, intermediate storage of a wire or electronic communication incidental to the electronic transmission thereof” .

The Justices ruled that since the correspondence in the plaintiff’s emails were not created for the purpose of backing up the data, the information does not warrant protection from intrusion under the Act.

5.  COMMENTS FROM THE SC SUPREME COURT:  Chief Justice Jean Toal noted that an item can only be considered protected by the SCA if it was both “unopened and kept as backup protection”. She also wrote, “Because the emails were already opened by Jennings when they were retrieved and printed out by Broome, they reached their final destination and fell outside the definition of electronic storage under the statute.”

FINFISHER is a malware that targest Android phones through the Android operating system.  They infect your phone through infected links.  Once your phone is infected, Finfiser steals your address book of all your contacts and your phone number.  Contact your phone vendor if you think you have been infected.


Court decision:

Background on the SCA:

Peak delivery season means peak spam scams!

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

Those cybercriminals are at it again.  We’re entering one of the busiest times of year for sending and receiving packages.  We’ve told you before that criminals go where the action is and we’re on your side watching for their next move.  And, looks like they have already started starting first with DHL delivery messages.   

We’re all multi tasking these days and we’re busy.  We’re juggling work, after work activities, sending and shipping packages for work and for our personal lives.  Cybercriminals are counting on that in their latest spam scam.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, talks about this latest spam scam and what types of headaches it’s already creating for those that accidentally clicked on the link.

1.  The emails appear to be from DHL Express
Subject lines vary but one picked up by Sophos Labs was "Processing complete successfully"

2.  PDF.ZIP file:  in an effort to “help” you, they send you the shipping information in the PDF.ZIP file.

3.  Multi taskers beware!  If you opened the file, a malware installs itself and infects your computer

Keep in mind that DHL is not the only shipping service that cybercriminals use in their spam scams.  They also target the USPS, UPS, FedEx.  No shipping service is immune!

Never click on links or attachments in shipping notices, even if you did ship a package.  Go directly to the web site or call if you want to check on the status.

1.  For Microsoft windows users, go to this website to run their free malware removal tools:

2.  For Apple users, you can go to to seek support or you can access a free tool at 

3.  Watch your computer for warning signs - if your computer displays any of these AFTER you run the tools, seek professional technical assistance:
  • hard drive sounds like it is being accessed but you are not performing an activity
  • several sudden freezes or screen lock ups for no reason
  • you suddenly start spamming your friends with strange emails
  • computer is slow and sluggish

HONEYNET.ORG  this is a non profit organization that tracks attackers and the attack points around the globe.  They show a real time  map of attacks at .  A group of volunteers helps track and investigate the latest attacks.   The teams then develop open source security tools to help fight cybercrime!


To see a picture of global attacks tracked by go to:

1.  For Microsoft windows users, go to this website to run their free malware removal tools:

2.  For Apple users, you can go to to seek support or you can access a free tool at 

3.  Some other free malware removal tools include:

What to do before bullying begins

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

Parents want to know what they can do before bullying begins.

The studies are all over the place but they have 1 thing in common - chances are your kid will be bullied in some way in the digital world. It could be an inappropriate photo, a mean text, or a secret exposed that embarasses them.  Research suggests that as many as ⅓ of all kids will experience cyberbullying and between as many as 20% of students could be a cyberbully.  Many experts have talked about how to stop bullying but you have told us you want to do more.  

 Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen, recently posted a youtube video talking about the pain she had been put through by her digital tormentors and then took her own life.  Our hearts go out to her parents and loved ones as they deal with this horrific loss.  It has left many of you asking as a parent what can you do if your son or daughter becomes a victim of digital bullying.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, has some tips for parents that could block the bullying or help head off a situation before it gets out of control.

1.  Safe Zone:  Before your child has a digital social life, establish a safe zone.  Kids tell surveys they don’t immediately report issues online because they don’t want to be digitally grounded.  Promise them you will not ground them if they come to you immediately with an issue even if they caused it.  

2.  Warning Signs:  Obsessive checking of emails, texts, social media accounts.  Or the opposite, completely withdrawn.  Moody.  Spells of sleeping or being hyper.

3.  Monitoring:  Always have a trust but verify rule in place.  Tell your child you will be actively checking their accounts and follow through.  Don’t snoop because you will create mistrust and you need a healthy and open line of communication.

4.  Legal action:  Blackmail, stalking, threatening online does have some legal protections.  File a police report and then contact a lawyer.  

5.  Online action:  Often a bully will go away if you ignore them.  This is the best first step.  But if the harassment becomes relentless, involves physical harm, or mental duress, you have courses of action you can take with online companies.  Go to customer support and seek help.

6.  Get help:  Seek counseling.  Your child is not alone.  Often, they feel as if their life is over and by seeking out counseling they can work through the shame, self blame and embarrassment

7.  Get educated together:  Before their digital social life takes off, spend time together playing internet safety games.  It’s a great way to have fun together while reinforcing important lessons.  If you have a teen, is a great place to watch videos and play games that talk about cyberbullying.  Another great resource is

SURFACE.  This is the new Microsoft tablet that wants to take on the iPad and other tablets in the market.  Coming soon to a store near you.  It has a 10.6-inch screen and a pop-out kickstand.  Pricing starts at just under $500.  

For step by step instructions on how to report bullying on Facebook:

How to stop bullying via the smart phone or cellphone:
Call your cell phone provider and have them walk you through options to monitor or block posts.  You can also request a free cell phone number change.

Contact Customer Support at Social Media networks:
Google products such as YouTube, Google+ all have standard features while on the product:
  • If you see abusive or inappropriate content, click the down-arrow to the right of the post or content and select report abuse. 
  • To report a person specifically, there is also an option to “Report this Profile” .  Look on the left side of the person’s profile. 
For YouTube videos, there is extra help at:

Play internet safety games together as a family that cover cyberbullying:

After you call 911, apps to help keep you safe!

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

What to do after you call 911!  Or, if it’s not a 911 but you still need help.

In the event of a real emergency, nothing should replace calling 911 first.  But sometimes events don’t require 911 or you need assistance beyond 911 and now there’s lots of apps for that.  

When you are discussing a crime in progress or a life or death situation, always call 911 first.  But sometimes, you need help that’s not 911 worthy or sometimes after you call 911 you still need to get in touch with loved ones.  Well, if your smart phone is charged up, you have apps at your fingertips to help you navigate these emergencies.  Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, covers just a few of these amazing apps that could make a huge difference during an emergency or even avoiding an emergency.

1.  Age Appropriate:  think about who you would need to connect with.  If it involves small children, think through whether or not they can respond to these apps in an event of an emergency.

2.  Practice Makes Perfect:  once you download these apps, try them out periodically so you and your family get used to them.

3.  Read Reviews:  Before buying these or other apps, read the user reviews to determine if these apps are right for you.

There are many apps out there but here are a few examples that you may find of interest:


My aircover is a Family Location Tracker.  This is more of a proactive tool to help ward off emergencies or to use in emergencies.  They have a free version of the app available for a limited time.  With this app you can proactively track and see the location of your loved ones.
You can send out and receive an Emergency Alert.  You can also set up “safe regions” and if loved ones enter / exit the region get an automated notification.  It even gives you “safe place” access such as the nearest hospital, fire department or police department.

During an emergency, you can connect with loved ones quickly.  It also allows you to send photos to loved ones of the situation.  The app also includes a sound blasting siren to either scare an attacker or alert others in the area.  Roughly $1.99 and $19.99 for a monthly subscription.

The app is free but there is a monthly subscription fee.  A quick tap on the app will automatically make a call for you when you sense danger or an emergency.  The app also offers a silent alarm that will start recording whatever the phone picks up and will dial 911 for you.  It will also alert any contacts you set up in advance.   

The Hollaback! app allows you to report inappropriate behavior.  You can text or send pictures to report incidents that will show up on a map. Reports go to local authorities and officials who will review whether or not there are hot spots for issues in their town.  It’s free but not available yet in all locations so check their map first before downloading.

Headed to DC, Boston or San Fran?  Parking Panda will help you find and reserve parking.  They also offer discounts and you pre pay for your spot.  You can use the mobile app or reserve from your computer.  They are adding new cities every day so sign up to request your city and they’ll alert you when they have your home town on the map!


Worried about privacy? Update your phone to iOS6!

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

Move to the iOS 6 on that smart phone now...and you get a bonus 200 secret features.  

We have told you before that your smart phone, every model, tells important clues about you and often there wasn’t much you could do about it.  Well Apple heard your concerns loud and clear and they have made important changes to the new operating system.  

Cyber expert, Theresa Payton, reminds us all the time that we MUST update our operating systems and browsers frequently.  She says it is our best protection against the bad guys.  But she was also excited to hear that Apple has done some work focused on your privacy.  And, she’ll also tell us about some of the hidden fun features in iOS6 for the iPhone, iPad, and iTouch that you might not have known about.  

1.  PRIVACY:  Apple has leaped ahead of other phones by giving YOU more control over your private and personal data 
a.  You get a better understnading of how apps share or look at your data
b.  You can get specific about “do not track”

Take 2 Steps in 10 minutes or less!
1.  go the new Privacy tab and choose which apps get access to your phone's location data, address book, calendar, personal reminders and Bluetooth.
2.  Limit Ad Tracking: enable this feature and you are letting mobile apps know “do not track”

2.  UDID no longer passed to vendors:  They still do “device identification” but they create a unique number for a vendor that is tied to your device.  They also create a different one for apps to use and for online ads.  It’s not perfect anonymity but offers another layer of protection between you and the outside world tracking you at the UDID!


-- Shh!  Don’t tell the kids but you can check their Browsing history easier!
Go to Safari, press for a few seconds on the “back button” to display history! 

-- No excuses!  Easy updates now available!  You don’t need your app store password anymore to update your apps!   

-- When you can’t take that phone call - you have options!. When a call comes that you cannot take, tap on the phone icon in the lower right hand corner.  You will see several options!

-- VIP list:  Are there a few people in your life that you absolutely cannot afford to miss their calls or messages?  Set up a VIP list and their emails, texts, and messages will glide by on your screen and will also have a star next to them.  VIP mail will go into a folder so you can check those first.

-- Worried about privacy so photo sharing on Facebook got you down?  No more!  You have a private photo sharing option.  Select a photo and tap the share button.  File it in a “photo stream” and then designate who you want to see it via email.  This photo stream will stay set up for you and them so you can post pictures to it as often as you’d like!

BAZAART:  This is a great app that lets Pinterest users create an interactive catalog out of their pins.  This is great for bloggers, photographers, chefs, artists, designers - really anyone that wants to create an interactive catalog for friends, family, or clients!

More on iOS6:

More on Bazaart: