Digital Assassination

Protecting your reputation, brand or business against online attacks


“In the future, which is now, everyone will have 15 minutes of shame.”

Two leading reputation experts reveal how online attacks destroy brands, reputations, even lives...and provide a course of actions to turn the tables on digital assassins.


Scott Walker Drops Campaign Aide Over Tweet

March 17, 2015

Scott Walker, Iowa, TweetThanks to the eternal memory of the Internet, campaign aides are getting the same level of background scrutiny as their candidates.

On Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker dropped a senior campaign aide who made a disparaging remark about the Iowa caucus in a Tweet. The New York Times noted that the woman “is known for strongly worded Twitter messages often laced with profanities.”

Last month, Jeb Bush was forced to let go his chief technology officer of his PAC for past tweets that included the word “slut” in it.

In many cases, campaign aides tried to delete their posts, only to find them no less accessible to political adversaries and the media. The permanence and searchability of the online world makes it likely that we’re all going to be held to the standards of a national political candidate. 

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E-Mail Alterations

March 10, 2015

We have come across corporations and individuals who have had their ‘sent’ emails altered by hackers to make them look guilty of unethical and even criminal behavior.

The resulting story put the company’s leaders in danger of prosecution under the U.S. Corrupt Foreign Practices Act. In one case, an international company based in the United States had its old sent email to a foreign government altered to include the offer of a bribe. The hacker – believed to be hired by a competitor – altered the responding email from the foreign government expressing gratitude for the bribe and assuring the company that this would be a no-bid contract. These emails were then “leaked” to a muckraking, online journal.

It took months and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on lawyers and IT forensic work to demonstrate to the authorities that these emails were interpolations.

The worst part of this story? The executive who sent the original email that was altered was confused when he saw the interpolation sandwiched within what was obviously his language. He wondered aloud if it is possible that he had done this – even though he was perfectly innocent.

So what can you do?

Ask your IT people if it would be appropriate to enable third-party, non-repudiation through certificates and encryption, as well as email archival programs that preserve "true-copy," legally admissible emails. Don’t try to understand it. Just ask.

For important emails, it also doesn’t hurt to print it and retain a paper copy in your file.

 

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Google's Truth-o-Meter

March 7, 2015

Google Truth o MeterGoogle currently ranks sites on their incoming links. The company is now developing a new ranking software that would access Google’s Knowledge Vault, which compiles facts that are virtually unanimous in upholding as true. So Google “vaccines and autism,” and you would more likely get a first paging touting peer-reviewed science than the unfounded speculations of celebrities.

This strikes us as a necessary but risky venture into the slippery world of what’s true and what’s not.  

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The Biggest Problem With Hillary's Email

March 6, 2015

Hackers could have altered the former secretary of state's emails with foreign governments.

By Mark W. Davis March 6, 2015

U.S. News and World Reports

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her email account when she was secretary of state will expose her to a number of questions with potentially incriminating answers about the mixture of public and private business.

She will no doubt claim that she considered the State Department system to be too insecure to use. After all, it was just last year that the department had to shut down its unclassified email system because of damage done to it, probably by state-sponsored hackers.

The problem with that defense is that at least the State Department system is continually monitored by a team of information technology professionals. Unless Clinton invested millions of dollars in a personal IT department, her “homebrew” account would have been a godsend to any number of hackers working for foreign intelligence services, not to mention the usual gang of trolls and snoops...

...I learned about this threat of interpolation while researching a book, "Digital Assassination,"  with my co-author, Richard Torrenzano. In our investigations, we discovered that hackers are growing ever more sophisticated in altering sent emails.

Continue reading: The Biggest Problem With Hillary's Email on U.S. News

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