Photo of Sculpture by Elizabeth MacQueen in New York Times

A dear friend has a photo of one of her more recent sculptures featured in a New York Times travel article. Internationally recognized and noted sculptor Elizabeth MacQueen recently had a photo of her sculpture “Four Spirits” included in an article about traveling in Birmingham, Alabama. The “Four Spirits” was created as a memorial to the four little girls that died in the 16th Street Church bombing in 1963: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carolyn Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

You can view the article here:®ion=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below&_r=0

For more information on Elizabeth MacQueen, you can visit her website here:

For more information on the Four Spirits sculpture, you can visit some of the following links:

Another Scam Alert – USAA

So I don’t usually post multiple times in a day, but for some reason this one just annoyed me so I felt the need to call it out. As always, these are posted as examples for you – the reader of this blog – to pass on to others. I understand that it is likely that you already know about this and other scams I mention in the blog, but your friends, neighbors, and relatives might not. If you can save somebody the headache of dealing this kind of thing, it’s worth the share! A few things of note with this one:

1) The “From” says USAA, but the email address associated with it is not from there.
2) The “To” recipient is not even to my personal (or work) email address.
3) There is no identifying graphic or bank-related information on the email
4) The Logon link is definitely not the USAA website.

Bottom line – a real financial institution should NEVER ask you to click and log into their system like this. If you get an email like this where even steps 1-3 are correct and don’t know how to check the link to see if it is legit, just go to the actual website in a browser. Don’t click on a questionable link in an email.

Here’s the one I got today:

New Scam Alert – DocuSign

Hey all…just a quick heads up. Got a new type of scam today…some of you might not have seen it, and for you business people out there, be aware. It looks like an official document to sign from DocuSign. People that are awaiting business documents, purchasing a home, expecting invoices, etc. could very easily click on this without thinking about it. However, if you roll over the button, you’ll see that it’s going somewhere else entirely. Do NOT click, just delete. Be vigilant and remember that it’s better to be cautious and take that extra second to check – don’t just assume and risk compromising your system!

Here’s a screeshot of what the email looked like:

Massive Ransomware Cyber Attack Spreads Around the Globe

Although a majority of the attacks targeted Taiwan, the Ukraine, and Russia, web security firm Avast has tracked more than 75,000 ransomware attacks in 99 countries.

Ransomware locks down all files on an infected computer and “asks” the user to pay a ransom in order to regain control over the files.

This particular variant which goes by the name “WannaCry” is spreading through a Windows exploitable vulnerability. Microsoft released a patch for this exploit back in March of this year, but any Windows system that has not applied the patch is at risk.

Kurt Baumgartner, a researcher for Kaspersky Lab has been quoted as saying, “Affected machines have six hours to pay up and every few hours the ransom goes up…Most folks that have paid up appear to have paid the initial $300 in the first few hours.” Kaspersky Lab has also cautioned that while non-patched computers are the most vulnerable, even patched systems can be at risk. What makes this malware even more diabolical is the inclusion of a “hunter module” allowing it to scan for additional systems on an internal network. This means that an infected computer could compromise other computers sharing the same network – the significance of this is great with the vast number of people who use WiFi networks at coffee shops, restaurants, airports and the like. The ransomware has even affected National Health Service (NHS) organizations in the UK and the Spanish telecom Telefónica.

The bottom line: While it may be an inconvenience, make sure you keep your computer systems patched will all of the most recent security updates and have virus protection turned on.


Ducks Start Round 3 Tonight

After an epic come-from behind win in Game 5 and a subsequent drubbing by the Oilers in Game 6, the Ducks turned in a solid Game 7 win to advance past the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They kick off round 3 tonight against the Nashville Predators at Honda Center in Anaheim.

Pleading the Fifth in the New Digital Age

Sometimes an unlikely source can be a catalyst for a major change in legal circles. While nothing has happened quite yet, a so-called “Sextortion” case may change the playing field for how well protected our information is on our phones.

The parties involved include Hencha Voigt, Wesley Victor, and Julieanna Goddard, aka YesJulz. Voigt and Victor were arrested in July 2016 on charges of extortion. They threatened to release sexually explicit photos and photos of Goddard if she did not pay them $18,000 in cash within 24 hours. When arrested, authorities confiscated four cell phones to be examined during the investigation.

The Issue:
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution reads in part, “…No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself….” This is the section of the Constitution related to self-incrimination. Prosecutors against Voigt and Victor (who have plead not guilty) have asked for a judicial order to release phone passcodes in order to search the mobile devices as part of the ongoing investigation. Defense attorneys are arguing that the passcodes themselves equate to self incriminating testimony. A ruling is expected on May 3rd, 2017 and the impact may have a ripple effect on future legal decisions.

The Impact:
With the advent of social media and mobile devices, the stakes for legal search and seizure of property for evidence have gone up. Crucial evidence can be held on a phone, tablet, or other device that can be locked by use of a passcode – the incorrect entry of which could potentially completely lock out future attempts at data recovery. This issue was highlighted in the 2016 case of Apple vs. the FBI. Apple refused to allow the FBI into the phone of the “San Bernadino Shooter” and argued that the creation of a “backdoor” into the iOS would potentially compromise the privacy of their users. There is no doubt that the outcome of this case will help shape policy, public perception and legal maneuvering for years to come.


Anti-Phishing Tip

This is just a short tip on how to tell if something is likely a fake email designed to get you to give someone else important account information. Often times, even if an email looks legit it might not be. How can you tell If it looks “real”?

One of the easiest ways to check is to simply roll your mouse over a button or clickable image on the page. If the link does not go to the site itself, the chances of it being fake are high.

There are other ways that we will explore in future posts…but this just came through today! Be sure to pass this on and subscribe if you like!

Ducks Stay in the Series

The Anaheim Ducks managed to hold off the Edmonton Oilers to win game 3 by a score of 6-3. Unfortunately, they lost their trade-deadline acquisition Patrick Eaves to a lower body injury. The Ducks look to tie the series 2 apiece on Wednesday. Go Ducks!

Ducks Look to Bounce Back after 2nd Round Game 1 loss

At 7:30pm PDT, the Anaheim Ducks take on the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Ducks lost the first game in the series 5-3 after first tying the game at 3 but suffering a bad break with the Oilers scoring with less than 5 minutes remaining. The puck bounced off defenseman Josh Manson’s skate past goalie John Gibson. The Oilers sealed the deal with an empty net goal with time running out. Fingers crossed for a better outcome in game 2.

Net Neutrality and Why You Should Care

Perhaps you have heard of Net Neutrality. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you don’t care. You should. If you use the Internet, it affects you. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Net Neutrality is defined as, “The idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination.” In simple terms, everything (legal) on the Internet should be equally accessible to everyone.

Net Neutrality stops Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from playing “Big Brother” and choosing what content is available (via Content Providers) to you at what speed it might be available. Content Providers like Amazon, Netflix, and Apple need ISPs to provide connectivity. The concern is that these connectivity providers (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and others) can pick and choose what content they want to deliver based on financial or other restrictions. As a practical (theoretical) example, without Net Neutrality rules in place, Netflix could pay or otherwise coerce (IE: by withholding premium programming) Charter Communications so that Netflix content streams significantly faster than Amazon content. As large as Charter’s customer base is (over 6.7 million people), this could be an inconvenience for Amazon users potentially causing them to stop using the service because it’s simply not fast enough. This example illustrates the potential financial impact and doesn’t even touch on the potential repercussions of small business vs. big business. Lack of rules means that the big companies can stifle innovation by simply forcing out upstart competition.

As consumers, how we access our work or entertainment is now completely enmeshed in our ability to access data online or “in the cloud”. Having the company or companies with the most money deciding what we can have access to goes against the idea of free speech. It’s not free speech if the mechanisms to access the message are controlled by those with the most money or political clout.

This makes it that much more important for you to be aware of the position of the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. FCC chair Ajit Pai proposes to eliminate “the so-called Internet conduct standard.” While the speech itself can be found here, our recommendation is that you take some time read up on Net Neutrality and how it might affect you and your business – if not just for you, but for generations to come.