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When personal cyber assaults spill into the workplace

Carrie Goldberg does not believe in using diplomatic or opaque language when promoting her Brooklyn law firm, C.A. Goldberg PPLC. The focus of the firm is fighting on behalf of victims of online harassment and cybercrimes, and the law firm’s website clearly states: “We fight AGAINST the a**holes, psychos, pervs and trolls who think they can get away with it.”

Carrie Goldberg. Photos courtesy CA Goldberg PLLC.

Goldberg came to Connecticut on Nov. 13 to conduct Fairfield University’s 22nd Annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lectureship, offering the topic “Demanding Justice for Victims: From Cyber Crimes to Federal Courts.” In an interview with the Business Journal prior to her lecture, Goldberg noted that the workplace has increasingly become under siege from cyber miscreants eager to enact pain and embarrassment on others.

“Most people who are victims of online harassment or revenge porn have jobs,” she said. “Many of our clients have been harassed by an ex or attacked at the workplace. They are targeting what is often most previous and valuable to their victims: their careers.”

And it is not just Goldberg’s clients who fell victim such attacks.

“One of our employees was a school principal whose ex-boyfriend posted nude photos on work computer,” she explained, adding that the incident effectively ended her education career – she later achieved her law degree and joined Goldberg’s firm, which was established in 2014.

Goldberg observed that the variety of workforce-focused attacks is wide and nefarious. Among the more dramatic she noted involved a man who accumulated text messages where his ex-girlfriend spoke impolitely about her clients and colleagues and then sent them into her workplace’s email system. Another attacker bypassed the Internet and went old-school with a fax blast to the executives and board members of his ex-girlfriend’s company where he accused her of having sex with clients and being under police investigation for child pornography and drunk driving.

Even self-employed entrepreneurs are not immune this, Goldberg added, recalling a professional dog walker whose account on the Rover app was hacked by an ex and disfigured with lies that she was responsible for killing the animals in her care.

Goldberg acknowledged that employer response to such intrusions has been uneven.

“Human resources departments need to be aware the internet plays a role in victimization,” she said. “Law enforcement needs to take cyber crimes seriously and work with employers when someone at a workplace is under attack.”

Still, she continued, many companies are cognizant of what is occurring, and many company handbooks are now clearly defining how to accommodate victims of these workplace assaults. Pointing to the case of the fax-based attacker, Goldberg recounted that the victim’s employer realized her ex-boyfriend “was a complete lunatic and was willing to grant her time off to get an order of protection. They even went with her to his sentencing.”

But is it possible to avoid having these situations permeate the workplace? Goldberg believed such a question puts the blame on the victim for having been acquainted with an unstable personality rather than the perpetrator.

“Everyone is a moment away from having their life upended by someone who targets us,” she lamented. “There is very little that people can do to prevent crossing paths with a sociopath.”

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