PSA: If You’re Using Gmail, Consider Getting a U2F Security Key to Secure Your Account

Posted: 1:38 am ET
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The private email of a State Department official working in the Office of Analysis for Russia and Eurasia (INR/REA) was reportedly hacked. FP reported a few days ago that the throve of emails include at least two years’ worth of personal emails from the private Gmail account, as well as personal information.

Whether you’ve been using Gmail for years, or have recently moved from Hotmail to Gmail, you need to consider getting a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) security key to secure your private email account. You can start with FIDO U2F from Yubico if you want to check it out. It is  pretty straightforward to set-up. Note that you can only use the key with Gmail when using the Chrome browser (or Opera) at this time. We’re not on FB or Dropbox but you can reportedly use this key to secure those accounts, too.

For folks who must regularly update wills and prepare “go-bags” (pdf), here is one more thing to consider:



PSA: No More Extra U.S. Passport Pages After Dec 31, 2015

Posted: 12:31 am EDT
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We’ve previously blogged about this back in April (see Next Generation U.S. Passport To Roll Out in 2016, No More Additional Page Insert Starting Jan 1, 2016).  The US Embassy Bangkok below has a reminder, that extra pages will no longer be available after December 31, 2015. Check your nearest embassy or consulate if you need additional pages before then.


PSA: Know the Risk #Raise Your Shield Campaign: Spear Phishing

Posted: 4:02 am EDT
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The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) is responsible for leading the counterintelligence and security mission across the USG. It is putting out the campaign focusing on spear phishing. It will reportedly be targeting social media, human targeting, and travel awareness. You can learn more at but fair warning, the website is slow and cumbersome, hard to navigate and not terribly user-friendly.

Via the Office of the Director of National Intelligence:


Here’s the Don’t Be THIS Guy: Spear Phishing video:


US Embassy Ljubljana: Where Ambassador Mussomeli Runs for Office in Election 2012

US Ambassador to Slovenia Joseph A. Mussomeli gets a starring role in this public service announcement urging U.S. citizens to register to vote.  Gotta give the brains behind this a thumbs up for fun and creativity. We particularly like the pan down of the ambo’s feet. Wait! He’s barefoot! And he’s running for president?  And he wears a shirt that says “I am awesome.” What’s this world coming to, only awesome people can run for the presidency?

In any case, if you don’t vote this guy will win, he has a 100% approval rating from a most ignored but easily swayed demographic.

New absentee voting info for overseas voters via the US Embassy in Slovenia:

New absentee voting laws are in effect for the 2012 elections.  You will no longer automatically receive ballots based on a previous absentee ballot request.  All U.S. citizens outside the United States who want to vote by absentee ballot in the 2012 primary and general elections must complete a new Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) every year if they wish to vote from abroad.  States are now required to send out ballots 45 days before an election.  No matter what state you vote in, you can now ask your local election officials to provide your blank ballots to you electronically (by email, internet download, or fax, depending on your state).  You can now also confirm your registration and ballot delivery on-line.  Be sure to include your email address on the form to take advantage of the electronic ballot delivery option.  This is the fastest and most reliable way to receive your ballot on time, and we strongly recommend every overseas voter take advantage of it.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website

Go register and vote.





PSA Diversity Visa Scam: Meet Our YouTube Stars

The diversity visa scam email recently forwarded to this blog made me look up the scam alerts and public service announcements (PSA) on the same subject. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the following are the videos put together by our consular sections to warn the public against the diversity visa or green card lottery scams.   Our top pick is the PSA from the US Embassy in Bangkok and our second pick is from the US Embassy in Tbilisi. The first two PSAs are clear, camera sharp, short and to the point, and both carry subtitles in the local language. The consular officers have camera presence, well-modulated voice, good lighting, and lucky enough to have excellent audio-visual support.

Tips on how to avoid Diversity Visa scam
US Embassy Bangkok | Duration 1:45 min

Green Card Lottery Scam
US Embassy Tbilisi |  1:17 min

Diversity Visa Lottery Fraud Warning
US Embassy Prague |  1:26
This video with Consul General David Beam from U.S. Embassy Prague is short but not so sweet, has no subtitle in Czech and the camera image is shadowy and fuzzy.

Diversity Visa Lottery Fraud
US Embassy Islamabad | 1:06
This PSA with Brad is short and sweet, to the point, and has a subtitle. But the speaker talks too fast, too animated and twitches around so much it makes me dizzy. The video transition is also distracting.

Whatever you do, if you’re planning your own PSA, stay away from the Fox and the Bear, like the US Embassy in Romania whose consular section has put together three videos on diversity visa scams. 6:59 7:51  8:40

Apparently, the Fox and the Bear tale was based on a Romanian folktale like this one.  Maybe the Fox Tricked the Bear tale could work as warning props but these videos are all over 5 minutes in length — that’s too long for a PSA and I’m sorry to say, quite boring.

Domani Spero