Cyber Security and Data Breach Response

lock“Cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”  Barack Obama, President of the United States

The Identity Theft Resource Center has documented over 500 data breaches in 2014 through early September.  This represents a 26.2% increase over the same time period last year. The news isn’t any better for the legal profession.

The latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report notes that “Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year.”  Fourteen percent of law firms “experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Where to Start

With such staggering numbers, it is easy to become overwhelmed.  If you are concerned about cyber security but don’t know where to start, begin here at the ABA Web site. If you are a prolific user of mobile devices, be sure to check out the ABA’s suggestions for Security on the Go.  To understand the state of security in US law firms, read this post by Bob Ambrogi.

Make Encryption Your Best Friend

Encryption is a powerful way to protect sensitive data belonging to you and your clients. The ABA post Playing it Safe provides a good overview.  Since TrueCyrpt is no longer available, check out the following reviews of encryption software: LIfehacker, GFI, PC World, and Gizmo.

You’ve Heard it Before: Use Strong Passwords

It seems we are reminding lawyers every other day about the importance of using strong passwords unique to each account or Web site.  See these recent posts on the ABA Law Technology Today blog:

Firewalls, Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus, Malware Protection

The best protection is comprehensive.  This excerpt from The 2014 Solo and Small Firm Technology Guide provides guidance.  Don’t be afraid to hire an IT expert to help.

Purchase Cyber Liability and Data Breach Coverage

The Professional Liability Fund (PLF) Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

Protect Yourself Against Scams

The security measures outlined above are a good start toward protecting your firm and your clients from scams.  For more complete protection, get educated.  Order the free PLF CLE: “Protecting Your Firm and Your Client from Scams, Fraud, and Financial Loss,” and talk to your bank about fraud protection services.

[All Rights Reserved - 2014 - Beverly Michaelis]

 

 

The State of Law Firm Security

Viruses are More Common at Law Firms than Encryption, ABA Survey Shows

Firms-with-virus

“Nearly half of law firms were infected with viruses, spyware or malware last year, according to the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. At the same time, only a quarter of law firms had any kind of email encryption available for their lawyers to use, the survey found.

Also, 14% of law firms experienced a security breach last year in the form of a lost or stolen computer or smartphone, a hacker, a break-in or a website exploit.”

Bob Ambrogi

Read the full post here.

Taming AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office

14526236790_b44b8d57ba_zIs AutoCorrect in Microsoft Office driving you batty?  Don’t despair.  Like most features in Office, the settings are completely within your control.

By choosing File > Options in Microsoft Office, you can:

Changes made to AutoCorrect in any Office program are global.  For example, if you delete the AutoCorrect entry in Outlook which converts tm to the superscript ™ trademark symbol, this change will apply in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.  acNOTE:  This does not mean the trademark symbol is forever lost, only that Office will stop autocorrecting tm when typed with parentheses.  You can still insert the superscript version at will by choosing Insert > Symbol.

To add, delete, modify, or rename AutoCorrect entries in Office 2010 or 2013, follow these steps.  In Office 2007, launch Word, select the Office Button > Word Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options:

ac optionsAs noted above, changes made to AutoCorrect options in Word will apply throughout Office.  It isn’t necessary to open each program individually to modify AutoCorrect entries.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Getting the Most Out of MS Office for iPad

So you’ve download Office for iPad, now what?  Learn how to get the most out of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by watching the tutorials available from InvestinTech.  If you are new to Office for iPad, start with the General Tips.  Some of the more popular InvestinTech topics are:

Each tutorial includes screen shots and easy-to-follow instructions.

InvestinTech is primarily known as PDF solution provider.  While on the site, check out their line of PDF products.  If you’re not in the market to buy, InvestinTech also offers some nifty FREE tools:

  • Slim PDF Reader
  • Docx to Doc Online
  • PDF to HTML Online
  • HTML CSS Templates
  • PowerPoint Templates
  • Able2Extract Mobile Apps – Allows you to convert PDFs into editable Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and create PDFs on your mobile device.

Share your favorite Office for iPad tips by commenting below.  Enjoy!

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.

Email Filing Assistants for the Mac

Are you tired of dragging messages to Inbox folders?  Try using an email filing assistant to speed up the process!

How do Email Filing Assistants (EFAs) Work?

Email filing assistants help “automate” filing of email into folders by using algorithms to learn and adapt to your email filing habits.  After you “train” the assistant for a time, filing email in the correct folder is a simple process.

Whether you are sending a message or replying to a message, the filing assistant “guesses” which folder the message belongs in.  (Accuracy rates are 80-90%).  There are no configuration wizards, no set-up, and no rules to maintain.

EFAs for Mac Users

I’ve written before about electronic filing assistants for PC/Outlook users, but what about Mac?

Option One – EFA Lite 2 or EFA 3 from Schulz

The first contender is the Email Filing Assistant from Schulz Software. The company offers a free versionEFA Lite 2 and a pro version for $6.99 – EFA 3.  Both are compatible with Apple Mail and require Mac OS X or later.  This chart explains the differences between the two versions.  EFA Lite 2 is unrated in the App Store.  EFA 3 (the pro version) has a three-star rating from 8 reviewers.

If you are tempted by EFA’s free version, check out this post from Addictive TipsEFA does not offer support or documentation, although there is an FAQ page. A few testimonials are available here.

Option Two – Msg Filer

A second option is MsgFiler.  From the outset, MsgFiler seems to be a more tried and true brand – touting a rating of 4.5 mice from Macworld and 4.5 stars from 130 reviewers on the App Store.  The testimonials are numerous.  Support appears to be more robust than EFA and the documentation section of the MsgFiler site has helpful screenshots and detailed how-tos.  The app is $9.99 in the Mac App Store, and from all appearances is well worth it.

All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis [2014]

 

 

 

Case Numbers are Not Unique – Oregon eCourt Week

This is the final post in my week-long series on Oregon eCourt. Today we take note of a small, but potentially important detail: case numbers are not unique in the eCourt system.

After logging on, eCourt users have an option to search case records, court calendars, or find judgments with money awards. If you elect to search Civil, Family and Probate Case Records, the following search screen appears:

search screenThe first option is to search by Case Number. Here is an actual search result that generated three listings in three different jurisdictions for the identical Case Number. Identifying information has been redacted for privacy reasons:

case numbers

Identical case numbers across judicial districts do not pose a problem so long as you are aware of the possibility.

Other Options when Searching Case Records

Searching by Case Number is the first option presented when searching case records. Users may also search by Party, Attorney, or Date Filed.

other search criteria

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis.

 

Searching eCourt Calendars – Oregon eCourt Week

Today we explore how to search court calendars in the Oregon eCourt system.

There are two options for searching calendars. The first uses a publicly accessible link from the Oregon Judicial Department home page. The second approach requires logging in to the eCourt system. The search methods are identical regardless of the approach used.

The following search criteria are available when searching eCourt calendars:

  • Attorney
  • Case
  • Judicial Officer
  • Party or Defendant Name
  • Date Range

Search by Case is the default search method. To search by any other criteria, click the drop-down arrow.

When searching by Attorney, use the attorney’s last name and first name or bar number.

search by attorney

When searching by Judicial Officer, the search screen offers a pull-down menu of all judicial officers in the state in ascending order, beginning with Abar, Donald and ending with Zuver, Julie:

search by judicial officer

When searching by Date Range, you can filter your search by Case Category. Case categories include: Criminal, Family, Civil, and Probate/Mental Health. By default, all four are selected. De-select categories you do not wish to include in your search.

date range

Phonetic Searches Using Soundex

Phonetic searches are available when searching by Party or Defendant Name or by Attorney if using last name and first name criteria. Check the Soundex box in the upper right portion of the screen to retrieve calendar dates for search names that sound alike.

eCourt Calendar Searches Limited to 90 Days in the Future

When searching the calendar, date ranges cannot be more than 90 days in the future. If you attempt to search more than 90 days out, the following message will appear:

date range message

Searching OJIN Circuit Court Calendars

Search OJIN Circuit Court Calendars here. Search criteria are limited to Date, Party Name, and Attorney. Note these conditions:

The (OJIN Circuit) Court Calendar allows entering up to four identifiers to locate an event occurring on a specific court docket. A minimum of at least one identifier is required. Providing more information will result in more accurate search returns.

The Party Name and Attorney fields are case-insensitive and can be all or part of a name. For example, entering “John” in the Party Name field will give results of all the cases with “John,” “Johnson,” and “Van Johnson.”

Names are stored in the same manner as in the OJIN system “Last First Middle” with no commas and one space between names. For example, Michael Jay Smith is actually stored as “Smith Michael Jay.” Searching for “Michael Jay Smith” will not find any results; however, searching for “Smith Michael” or “Smith M” or “Smith Michael Jay” will include the desired results.

You can only search for the first plaintiff and defendant on a case. You can only search for the first three attorneys on a case, with the system first looking for attorneys on the scheduled event and then for active attorneys on the case. Search results will return the first 500 entries on the docket.

OJIN Online subscribers have access to more functionality.

Beverly Michaelis [2014] All Rights Reserved.

 

Oregon eCourt Week – Filing Fees and IOLTA

Clickhere_medFLT_490x250Using debit or credit cards to pay eCourt filing fees raises a number of potential concerns – some ethical, others practical. For example, is it permissible to obtain a debit card connected to the IOLTA account? If yes, what can practitioners do to protect client funds? Alternatively, if a firm decides that an IOLTA debit card is too risky, what are the logistics for getting reimbursed if the firm advances eCourt filing fees?  Is a credit card a better alternative?

Here is some guidance on these issues. Continue reading

10 Year Paper Retention Requirement – Oregon eCourt Week

If you are a paperless practitioner who has embraced Oregon eCourt with open arms, beware. eCourt filers are required by rule to retain certain documents in their original paper form.  UTCR 21.120, effective May 1, 2014, provides:

“(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, if a filer electronically files an image of a document that contains the original signature of a person other than the filer, the filer must retain the document in its original paper form for 10 years.

(2) On reasonable notice, the filer must provide a paper copy of the original for inspection by another party, the clerk, or the court.”

See Chief Justice Order 14-012 dated March 31, 2014 adopting out-of-cycle amendments to the Uniform Trial Court Rules.

“Filer” means a person registered with the electronic filing system who submits a document for filing with the court.” UTCR 21.010(6).

Other Statutes and Rules May Require Retention of Original Paper Documents

Paperless practitioners should take note of other statutes or rules that require retention of original paper documents. Examples include the Affidavit of Custodian executed when a settlement agreement is reached on behalf of a minor (ORS 126.725(2)) and certain documents filed in US Bankruptcy Court (see Oregon Local Bankruptcy Court Rule 5005-4(e)). For more information, consult the PLF practice aids, File Retention and Destruction and Checklist for Scanning Client Files, available on the PLF Web site.

This is not an exhaustive list. Conduct your own appropriate legal research to identify other instances where original paper documents must (or should) be retained.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

 

Critical Security Concerns for Internet Explorer, Flash, and AOL Users

On the heels of Heartbleed, more security concerns:

Stop Using Internet Explorer Now
By now you have likely heard about the security issues with Internet Explorer. However, you may not realize that the US government warned users to quit using IE until Microsoft fixes a security hole that could allow hackers to gain remote access to your computer.

To be safe, download an alternate browser like Firefox or Chrome and avoid Internet Explorer until Microsoft issues a patch. UPDATE: a patch is now available for all Windows users, even XP. Run Windows Update to verify the patch has been installed. in my case, I found it had been downloaded but not installed.

Update Adobe Flash Player
A second security bug involves Adobe Flash Player. This vulnerability permits remote code execution, potentially giving hackers access to your computer. (For those who are curious, the result is the same as the Internet Explorer vulnerability, but the two security issues are unrelated.)

Adobe has already pushed out an emergency security patch which all users should download immediately.

AOL Compromised
In a third security incident, AOL reported a security breach of its email servers. AOL users should change their passwords immediately.