Email

Be Careful, Next Week It Could Be Your Email on WikiLeaks

Hillary Clinton and her staff have been in the news thanks to email hacks, but it could happen to you, too.
Be Careful, Next Week It Could Be Your Email on WikiLeaks
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Leaked emails are now playing a supporting role in the 2016 election. Forces plotting against Hillary Clinton have released various caches of email belonging to her associates, which include plenty of messages to and from the Democratic nominee.

She herself established a personal email server during her tenure as Secretary of State, but much of that is beside the point; one insider told me her server was largely hiding in plain sight. Ironically, there is no real evidence it was hacked because no emails from her account, save for those that have been publicly released, have appeared online.

What has been going on is very interesting. Earlier this year, hackers breached the Democratic National Committee and stole emails that were later posted online by WikiLeaks. Also breached was the personal email account of Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, the contents of which have been posted to WikiLeaks on an almost daily basis. This is being blamed on the Russians, who appear to be straw men in this hilarity.

Whoever is to blame, people have to realize that email services -- Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook -- are ripe to be hacked in their entirety. I will not be surprised in the least if one day I wake up and read about how the entirety of Gmail's (or more likely, Yahoo) email archive has been stolen and released to the public, complete with a search engine so you can look up your email and see how much is now in the public domain.

As a result, I'd recommend that you start to be a bit more circumspect about what you write in your emails. Slander and libel lawyers are going to have a field day; income for life.

If you have ever worked with lawyers during a case, they will emphasize not to ask questions or say anything about the case using email. You either tell them in person or on the phone. In person is best and keep no records. This is because of a process called discovery. With discovery, one of the sides in any legal action will request documents and the various sides have to provide them. Often this request includes all emails from one date to another or about a specific topic. The result is boxes full of documents or gigabytes of emails. Inside those emails is horrid information that's not really related to the case but gets into the record anyway.

As a personal note, years ago a case against Microsoft revealed that the company named me as someone who should not be given any details on a specific future release of Windows. I was on the enemies list for doing my job, which I considered a badge of honor. But how did I find this out? Discovery. It just happened to be mixed in with other emails.

Nobody outside the legal profession takes this threat seriously. Thus, within your notes to fellow workers or associates you might unknowingly smear people, discuss secrets and send around documents that should not even be digitized let alone passed around like a brown-bagged bottle of whiskey at a hobo encampment.

Awareness helps. Ask yourself, would post this private message on Facebook for everyone to see? If not, re-write it and talk on the phone more. Maybe it's best to do everything in person, like the good old days. That way you'll get some fresh air and maybe some lunch. It's all for the best.


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