Blake Dowling: Keep your data safe this holiday season


I saw Christmas tree lights up this weekend. Why? It’s not December. This just seems manic in my opinion. Shouldn’t you wait until December?

Polling will take place on this matter soon. In other news, I was going to write something on tech issues with the elections but that’s been done, certain counties down south need some new equipment down south, etc.

Then I thought about diving into Russian meddling as I am reading a new book on the Kremlin that is pretty out of control. However, we have not seen any high-profile cases exposed or uncovered, yet.

So that leaves Florida-Florida State with an election tie in? Too soon? Wounds still gaping?

OK, how about a scam alert that a few high-profile folks in our Capital City have asked me about on the down-low due to the sensitive nature of the scam.

A little background for you. We have seen a flurry of breaches over the years from Target, Equifax, LinkedIn, and there is a shouting and flailing about; should these entities have to notify their clients, etc.?

Well, that’s not what we should be upset about folks. “Where did the data go” is the question you should be asking. You can review some of the biggest breaches from 2018 here.

So the breach is over, then comes silence, we go about our lives, shopping online, sharing too much on social media, not changing our passwords, binge-watching Hee Haw and The Waltons and then one day — wham — you get an email that says something like this:

“We have your password, TaggartTime, and we have your browsing history of adult sites, and will expose them (or videos from your webcam) to your contact list unless you pay us thousands in bitcoin.”

Because of the aforementioned breach, hypothetically let’s say TaggartTime really is your password, and maybe you visited some shady websites and you are an elected official and you start sweating and thinking about calling the PR company.

The good news. It’s a scam.

They have your password from one of these beaches and they are just guessing that you are a creep online and voilà, you have a pretty solid scam that freaks people out and gets some reaching for the checkbook.

There are several examples of this if you would like to learn more.

Bottom line, like any bogus email, do not click anywhere, do not pay any ransom, change your passwords regularly (every 90 days is a good rule of thumb) and report the issue to law enforcement. You can find first steps here.

If you receive an email like this and want to chat you can email me any time as I have talked several folks off the ledge with this situation and am happy to offer my “Email Ledge Consulting Service” at no charge (for the first 10 minutes).

Breaches have consequences, and this is just one example of how the bad guys are using your data. Believe me, they are doing a lot more with it without your knowledge. Keep your data safe and change those passwords.

Now you may get back to putting up your Christmas lights, watching The Waltons, running the state or your business or talking football. I plan on diving into the football chatter this morning as my first meeting this week is at the UCC Club in the stadium. It will be an interesting talking season (the offseason) in the Sunshine State, for sure.

Have a great day, everyone, and don’t forget to shop local when you can this holiday season — our communities rely on it.

And prayers for all still recovering from the hurricane in North Florida. It is going to be a rough season, so don’t forget them. Check out Rebuild 850 if you wish to find out how you can help.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He stayed up for the entire 7 OTs in the LSU vs Jimbo game.

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at


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