Palmerston awash after iTunes hacking: Lessons for us all

The Tahlia Forrest Carwash Palmerston

Tahlia Forrest, 8, with mum, Rebecca, and the Free Carwash Sign

There are two ‘boring’ things I always make sure I share in my online marketing workshops:

  • most online fraud happens through someone you know
  • simple passwords are an invitation to hackers

That’s why my attention was grabbed when Palmerston Alderman Rebecca Forrest shared on Facebook last week that her iTunes account had been hacked.

As it turns out, the ‘hacker’ was eight year old daughter, Tahlia, and the password she had to crack was ‘close to home’.

Rebecca was in shock and was wondering what sort of punishments might fit a crime like this.

Tahlia, on the other hand, knew she had done wrong and was also wracking her brains to work out how she could make up for the overspend.

One punishment I suggested was that Tahlia write a blog post about the experience, to which they both agreed.

If there is one other observation I might add, before we read the posts from Tahlia and Rebecca, it is this: even in this age of high speed life, electronic commerce and games and supposedly lower moral standards than any generation before us, today’s little story shows that our community is still made up of people with great character – people who do not dodge confronting issues and, to Tahalia’s great credit, people who are not afraid to front up and learn from their mistakes.

Why I have to wash cars – Tahlia, 8 years old

It all started when my brother and I went to the water park. It was so cold that we had to leave early (it was only 24 degrees). When we got home Jaxon got me some free games on mums iPad but I started to download things that I wasn’t supposed to and kept on doing it when mum was at work. I know I shouldn’t do stuff without asking and the amount was around $210. In fact I downloaded a $51.99 chest of gold but, unfortunately, it was purchased with mums gold and she was really, really mad.

When she got home I was pretending to sleep so mum wouldn’t get angry at me straight away – she can get angry a lot sometimes.

Mum and I talked about a punishment and it’s to do a community car wash. I said I’d clean 50 cars to learn my lesson. Will I be downloading things again – NEVER! I’ll stick to jumping on the trampoline and playing my pre purchased DS games instead!

Mums response – Rebecca Forrest

With two brothers either side and from the times when a trip to the tip to scrounge for “treasure” was the equivalent of Disney world, I’m a firm believer in working hard for what you’ve got.

So imagine my dismay when email receipts start coming through for a fantastic kids game that apparently I really enjoyed given my consistent downloads during business hours.

As Tahlia says- I can get angry. Like the incredible hulk but with fabulous green stilettos instead of full body paint. I was ropeable. I’m sure many of you are in the same position – mortgages, car insurance, bills to pay and so its so exciting when you think you’ve finally had a win and could buy yourself something nice. Apparently I bought a pink and yellow dinosaur, some virtual coins and a piece of lettuce – clearly a sound investment for me and putting those business degrees to good use.

That said, when you’re a single mother you should probably be a bit more creative than using said child’s name as your iTunes password. (it has since been changed to something more relevant – devil spawn is close).

And so the “talk” took place. I purposely lingered at the door for extra effect – something my father did brilliantly when I was in trouble – it still works on me! Quite impressively my little one had already pulled out her money box $$ to hand it all over, written a list of chores and cooked dinner that night. It was her idea to clean cars and she’s actually very excited about getting out there and giving back to the community. (last time I was denied a share of her chocolate bar it was straight to the soup kitchen for lessons on sharing so she knows I mean business).

Ms Tahlia put the benchmark at 50 cars to clean working it out at $4 a car to pay the amount back in kind (we won’t be charging anyone for a car wash). My police friends in youth diversion felt the punishment was a bit excessive for the crime so I’m OK to settle for 10. The permits are in with council to use the space and water tap in the CBD so – watch this space for the official date and more pics.

I’m hoping it can be a good lesson but also a fun activity that we can do together – outside enjoying the beautiful territory sun.

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