December 3, 2012

Portions of this posting are taken from the following source:  “INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ADVISER” ; Information Technology Adviser – Progressive Business Publications 370 Technology Drive – P.O. Box 3019 – Malvern, PA 19355

My grandkids, especially my granddaughters, think I’m paranoid, really paranoid.  I come by this condition in a legitimate  manner.   Over the past six (6) months, my business account has been hacked into twice.  Over the past three (3) months, my personal bank account has been hacked into once.  My bank has fraud protection so I was reimbursed for the losses but it is a real pain;  close the account, reassign card numbers, etc etc.   You get the picture.   I have been very lucky with my e-mail account although I’m just waiting on the “other shoe to drop”.   In the past few weeks we  have read and heard about General  David Petraeus and the difficulties he has had with e-mail, and other issues.   The Internet is replete with horror stories about invasion of privacy truly harmful to unsuspecting individuals going about their daily lives and thinking all is well.  I think company e-mail accounts should and must be sacrosanct, in other words untouchable and not for public consumption.   Your eyes only.  OK, that seems to be a pipe-dream.    While your users may not be interested in hiding an illicit romance (or maybe they are), it’s not unheard of for IT managers to be asked for help keeping information private.

Users at all levels often want to be able to segregate their professional and personal communications.

The e-mail drop-box trick is an old one.   This is what General Petraeus and his “girlfriend” tried, which was a resounding failure.   A January 2005 PBS special on al-Qaeda identified the tactic as one of several “terrorist tricks,” alongside logging in from public Internet cafés.  The same trick is also used in a 2008 spy film “Traitor.”

Of course IT managers have to worry about compliance and the demands of e-discovery, but as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile and dispersed, the demands for security and confidentiality are likely to increase for everyone in IT.


Here’s how you can help educate your users on how to keep private communications private:

1. Don’t write it down. The first rule of communication is to do it in person if possible and in written form only when necessary. If you don’t create a “paper” or electronic trail, there’s nothing to follow.

2. Keep personal and professional communications separate.  Emails, instant messages, texts and photos that are personal need to be exchanged only using personal accounts on personal hardware.  Don’t access your personal Facebook or other social media accounts from your office.  Keep those private.

3. Don’t trust even prominent Cloud providers to protect messages.  vE-mail services like Google’s are susceptible to hacking, and there are well-documented cases of users having accounts broken into, emails deleted and bizarre unauthorized emails sent.

4. For uber-secure email, try using an encrypted service.   Hushmail and Tigertext are some examples. Hushmail, uses encryption keys to ensure that only the sender and receiver can read a message.

Then there’s “10 minute mail,” which provides disposable email addresses that expire.

Tigertext messages have a limited lifespan. Vaultletmail encrypts emails in transmission. But be warned: All emails, even encrypted ones, leave a metadata trail minimally skilled techs can trace.

5. The basic rule of privacy. Your information is only as safe as the recipients’ email or texting services.  Make sure the individual or company receiving your e-mail is as well protected as you.

I’m sure there are others such as:

  • Change passwords frequently
  • Use passwords that exhibit a significant degree of difficulty.
  • Have separate user names and passwords for differing accounts.  ( Granted, I have to make a written list of my user names and passwords but at least that keeps me somewhat safe.)
  • Be very careful about giving your user name and password to anyone and I MEAN ANYONE.

I would recommend you go online to the Information Technology Adviser and search for other  tips and tricks that will keep you and your e-mail safe and functioning.  Being “hacked” is not fun.



  1. Hi exceptional blog! Does running a blog like this take a great
    deal of work? I’ve no understanding of computer programming however I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject nevertheless I simply needed to ask. Many thanks!


    • cielotech Says:

      I can definitely recommend blogging if you have the time. I have a goal to write four or five blogs per month BUT, I only write about subjects that interest me. No Hollywood, politics, religion, etc. Only technology and education.


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