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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox January 28th, 2022

Thoughts From My Inbox

January 28th, 2022

QR Codes, Tax Scams, and Knob Throwing

As I was loading my ski gear last Friday night, I noticed that the forecast for Peek n Peak for Saturday morning called for temps at eight degrees.  Not optimal, but not horrible.  Got in the car on Saturday morning and it was -12.  That was at 6AM though, and I figured it’d warm up over the next couple of hours.  I got concerned however, when the temp suddenly dropped to -17.  Things started to warm up as I drove east on I-90, and before I knew it, the dashboard registered 0 degrees.  It was all downhill from there however, and the thermometer looked like a countdown clock. -1, -4, -7, -11, all the way to -20, as I was about to hit the parking lot.  A little chillier than I expected, but we had the place almost all to ourselves! Looking like it might be a little warmer tomorrow, but non-existent lift lines are good by me!


Something About…


Winter Olympics
I always enjoy watching the Winter Olympics- especially the skiing, ice hockey, and bobsled/luge/skeleton- so I’m looking forward to the upcoming coverage. And as much useless information as I have rolling around my head (about the Olympics or otherwise), I had no idea that Denver had been awarded the ’76 Winter games, only to give them back.  


QR Codes
For a time (I’m thinking 2010, back when I worked for a web marketing company), it seemed like QR codes might be the next “big thing”.  They’re still around (think restaurants that don’t want to hand out menus) but I don’t think they’ve ever really taken off.  That said, the FBI has a new alert about scammers using QR codes to collect user names and logins, as well as financial data.  As usual, “think before you click”.



Data Privacy
Assuming you’re probably not celebrating National Day Privacy day like the Ashton team is, but that’s ok.  If you’re looking for a few tips on how to keep your data secure, our friends at Sophos have some for you.




Attorneys General from three states and D.C. have filed suits against Google for deceiving users about how they’re being tracked.  While users can supposedly turn off tracking, the suits claim that there are numerous conflicting settings which still permits the company to get information which is then provided to its advertisers.  Honestly, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. 


Tax Scams

This is the first of what will probably be many reminders that tax season is a popular time for scammers.  The scams take many forms, some aimed at businesses and others at individuals.  Just keep in mind that any request you receive regarding financial data/W2s, etc., is a big red flag!

USB Attacks
Sometime four or five years ago, we thought it would be really cool to hand out branded flashdrives to clients, prospects, and friends.  The flashdrives were in our signature green with our logo on them, and they even had a bottle opener at the end opposite the data end.  What more could you ask for?  People loved them, but we never ordered a second batch.  We realized that it was popular for hackers to drop USB drives in parking lots, assuming (correctly) that people would pick them up and plug them in to see what data was on them. That’s when the malware hit.  Now, flashdrives are being sent to people with the same hope- that they insert them into their devices.  And it’s working.


Chinese Privacy Laws
Last week I mentioned the fact that Olympic athletes and anybody else going to China for the Olympics will be at great risk for data theft and hacking.  It’s so bad that the International Olympic Committee is giving phones to every athlete. This led down the rabbit hole of Chinese data privacy and the fact that they have a new law in place, similar to Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
Oscar Mayer
A dedicated reader noticed last week’s piece on Cleveland Bologna, and was kind enough to send me this piece on Oscar Mayer’s bologna face mask.  I wonder if we could put the Ashton logo on these and give them away as swag?
Knob Throwing
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you were planning to travel to Dorset, England, this spring for their famous Knob Throwing festival (give yourself extra credit if you know what a ‘knob’ is, before you read the article), you’re out of luck.  They’ve cancelled it, as it’s become too popular.
Stopping Iranian Hackers
Curious to know how one of the largest Iranian hacking groups does their work?  The FBI just published a brief with insight and suggestions as to how to avoid being compromised.



Who are you rooting for in this weekend’s NFL conference championship games? All four of the teams I was pulling for last weekend lost.  Being a Browns fan, I can’t root for the Bengals (even with a Buckeye at QB).  I don’t really care about the Chiefs, although Travis Kelce played hockey at Cleveland Heights for a guy I used to coach with (as did his brother Jason).  49ers and Rams?  I’d take Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers any day over either of them.  I guess I’m just hoping for games like last weekend, rather than those of two weeks ago.


Have a great weekend and stay warm!





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