As the FBI later learned, Hollander had a full dossier on Judge Salas and her family, detailing their haunts and their habits – it was readily apparent that he had been stalking the judge for more than a week. The FBI eventually connected Hollander to the murder of a California lawyer earlier that month. Hollander used the same charade of posing as a FedEx employee to gain access to his victims, explaining why the judge’s normally-cautious son would have so willingly opened the door to a stranger.
Sources confirmed that Hollander had recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was reportedly working off of a “hit list” of dozens of people he believed had wronged him (including three other judges). There was also speculation that the attack may have been either racist or sexist in nature: a rambling online manifesto railing against “Feminazis” was discovered and it was later revealed that Hollander had a dossier on Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Hollander could not himself explain his motivations: he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the day after attacking Judge Salas’s family members.
I am not at all ashamed to say that listening to Judge Salas describe the events of the day her world was turned upside down brought me to tears (and I know I was not the only wet-eyed person in the room). But as a result of her remarkable alchemy skills, Judge Salas turned a negative into a positive, a tragedy into a triumph: the 2020 passage of Daniel’s Law in New Jersey (criminalizing the public posting of addresses/phone numbers of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers), and her similar work in instituting protections under federal law in the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act which was just recently passed and awaits President Biden’s signature. Under the new law, data brokers will be prohibited from selling judges’ personally identifiable information and the judges will have control over how and what personal information is shared with the public, where there is no legitimate news media or other public interest.
Judge Salas ended her remarks with the message we all needed to hear: there is a way to move on after the agony of grief starts to subside: one must stay positive, be optimistic, and hold on to hope. And I would add one more to the judge’s list: take action, both for your own safety and improved protection for all of us in the wide-open world of social media.
And this is where the second main speaker stepped in, to educate all of us about how to begin protecting ourselves and our families. Mark Lanterman, a cybersecurity expert, worked for nearly 30 years on the U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Taskforce before entering private consulting. He shared a couple of amusingly terrifying anecdotes about how cavalier we all have become about keeping confidential information confidential, including one about arriving at the check-in table at a conference only to find the registration table unmanned, the conference manager’s laptop up and running with a little yellow sticky on the desk revealing the computer password…did I mention this was at a cybersecurity conference? Tongue in cheek, he chided the AJEI itself for oversharing in its marketing of the Summit, cogently asking “Did the world need to know where it could find more than 400 appellate judges all sitting together in one room on certain days in November?” It was a startingly stark reminder that information can be used for good or ill, depending on the intent of the recipient.
So, Mr. Lanterman spent the rest of his time with the group cautioning us to be more attentive to what we share, more circumspect on where we share it, and more proactive in cleaning up our electronic profiles. He especially directed the judicial officers present to be more aggressive in monitoring what their families are doing online (we all know the younger generations tend to overshare).
In preparing for the session, Judge Salas asked Mr. Lanterman to see what he could find online about her and her husband (she had been assured by the federal government that her internet presence had been “scrubbed”). Within minutes and while still on the telephone with each other, Mr. Lanterman was able to access photos of the judge’s kitchen, taken by her home security system!
But the presentation offered more than just awful anecdotes. Mr. Lanterman explained that we have to pay attention to where we are sharing information (remember: Alexa is always listening) and be proactive in taking steps to minimize harm. It could be as simple as freezing your credit reports, so no one can try to steal your financial identity, or set up a Google alert for your own name to track unexpected results. It is also possible to contact Google to ask it to remove your information from its database (although it seemed like that might be a long shot). There is a monthly service called “DeleteMe” which promotes its data removal services, although it seems that it only sends requests to others to remove information, and it does not monitor social media or the dark web. (My independent YouTube research revealed some pros and cons to the services this company offers, so move slowly and carefully.) Mr. Lanterman also suggested using the website “haveIbeenpwned.com,” which will tell you whether your Email address or phone number has been hacked (my phone was clear, but both my work Email and my most-popular personal Email have been hacked multiple times through various apps). The major takeaway here is to carefully manage your passwords, using strong strings of numbers, letters, and symbols, and keep them safe in a password manager. NEVER use the same password for multiple platforms, especially not when it provides access to your online financial information.
I found this session unique in both the material presented and the lessons learned. Like so many others in my generation (i.e., old), I tend to pay little attention to my social media presence, such as it is. Judge Salas and Mr. Lanterman taught me that I was just playing ostrich. Sure, I am not a target in the way that a judge may be, but there was a day years ago when a colleague in my firm had to be ushered out by the police because a litigant had just killed his public adjuster and it was suspected that he was looking to seek revenge on others involved in his case. My firm smartly put in security key-card systems after that incident, but you know what? My home is even more vulnerable than my office and both locations are easily found online. I am no different than you, and all of us are no different than Judge Salas. We need to be more proactive in our own security: Email Mark Lanterman, at his invitation, for free tips on security issues and for a copy of his credit report freeze form. As Sgt. Esterhaus used to say: “Let’s be careful out there.”