Saturday, July 18, 2009


Michael McCoy and Sue Martines J.D.

It’s always been said that a jury of one’s peers will generate the most authentic outcome, although some would say, the most severe. Honesty can hurt. Just ask the manager of a 70-year-old supermarket chain who got fired, or at the least transferred, over refusing to exchange a $4 watermelon.

One disgruntled customer taking the real story to the social network of Twitter, Facebook, and other online resources, and the wheels of justice begin to really get rolling. Ask a friend, a neighbor, or colleague, how it would feel to have their spouse humiliated over a $4 purchase from a merchant who prides themselves on “customer convenience,” and they’ll tell you they’ll stop shopping there. But previously the buck would stop there.

Enter social networking. Now, with a brief description of your experience, and a request for action to your “network,” and the emails and calls to the store start flooding in. What retailer in their right mind is going to ignore an outpouring of negative responses from the very customer base it claims to hold dear?! And in a market where your existing customers are ever-more valuable.

This retailer didn’t ignore it. The customer’s been advised that neither he, nor the rest of the “network” will ever have to deal with that manager again. Click, type, action – results. The following quote is the response from the store director after a week long social networking campaign:

“I am not able to discuss details, just that you will not have to deal with the manager that caused you and your wife the problem. As I said before, we take customer service issues very seriously, and I hope to see you and your family back at XXXXX soon.”
Store Director

It’s not a stretch to wonder, when it comes to social networking, what’s next – influence global politics? Reunite estranged families? Shift the buying habits of a nation? On some of these perhaps, the jury is still out, but for this particular store manager, the verdict was clear. Guilty by a jury of his peers.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Twitter hack

We are moving in the wrong direction away from more security to a nightmare world. The latest breach (see below and link to story at top) raises doubts about the "Internet App of the Future" cloud computing. Also, the legitimacy of passwords and usernames as the way to provide security is in doubt (it was always VERY questionable).

This is basically where you don't have much of anything on your computer. it all "lives" on servers and you can both access your material and also the application needed (text - Word, data -Excel-, presentation - Power Point). The idea is that you'll be "liberated" from the hassles of having to download and update stuff all the time.

Now Twitter and the whole G-mail environment were hacked and there is an "oops!" moment. for those of us interested in and working on ID theft protection this is one more frustrating nightmare. Stay tuned for solutions. In the meantime keep as much of your data safe.

Is password protection an inherently flawed security model? A hack into a Twitter employee's Gmail provided access to a number of confidential Twitter docs housed in Google's cloud. What does that say about cloud security? Information from the docs was leaked to the media and published on various outlets. Is that allowable under freedom of the press? Or does it amount to participation in a criminal act? By Erika Morphy E-Commerce Times -

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

North Korea Suspected in Cyberattack

Here is the basics of this new attack:
July 8 -- South Korea's intelligence agency suspects that North Korea may have been behind an Internet attack that on Tuesday and Wednesday targeted government Web sites in South Korea and the United States, lawmakers in Seoul told news agencies
Why should we care since we are interested in personal Identity Theft? Well here is why:
In the United States, the attack targeted Web sites operated by major government agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Trade Commission. In addition to sites run by government agencies, several commercial Web sites were attacked, including those operated by Nasdaq, the New York Stock Exchange and The Washington Post.
These sites contain tens of millions of files that may include YOU and all your private information! Moreover, these are critical sites for the stable functioning on the United States economy and national security (homeland security) systems.

So let's stay vigilant and keep our private information protected.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"These networks are poorly defended and vulnerable to theft,"

we have been warning all of you about the weakness of networked systems and the threat to your personal information but also to US national security. Now we see the picture more clearly:

OUR economy, energy supply, means of transportation and military defenses are dependent on vast, interconnected computer and telecommunications networks. These networks are poorly defended and vulnerable to theft, disruption or destruction by foreign states, criminal organizations, individual hackers and, potentially, terrorists. In the last few months it has been reported that Chinese network operations have found their way into American electricity grids, and computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s Joint Strike Fighter project.

Acknowledging such threats, President Obama recently declared that digital infrastructure is a “strategic national asset,” the protection of which is a national security priority. (Click link for the rest of this article)
This is clearly a very alarming development and sadly we could have started working on this years ago. Mike McCoy and I, working with the Center for Information Protection (CIP) at Iowa State University have been writing (2 books and many articles), speaking (many, many radio, TV and hundreds of personal appearances and workshops) about this danger.

Sadly, neither the state legislatures nor the Feds really wanted this issue on their agenda because the plate is full already anyway. So, we keep plugging along anyway.

Now the time has come for a full frontal assault and a national mobilization starting with YOU and going through all institutions to put in place a more robust security system.

You need to contact your state legislator (in whatever state you are) and your members of Congress. It's no longer just about us individually. It's about the security of our economy and our nation!

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