15 Steps You Can Take Now to Protect Sensitive Data

The October issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin contains a must-read article entitled The Data Dilemma: Law Firms Strive to Strengthen E-Security as Potential Threats Continue to Rise. 

To understand why you should be concerned, read the article.  To take steps now to protect your firm, read John Simek and Sharon Nelson’s sidebar, “E-Security Pros Offer 15 Tips to Help Law Firms Better Protect Sensitive Data” posted as a PDF on the OSB Web site.  Among John and Sharon’s recommendations:

  • Use unique passphrases for each Web site/account/software program   (Passphrases are better than passwords)
  • Properly encrypt laptops, flash drives, and backup media
  • Physically lock up your server
  • Properly vet all cloud service providers
  • Secure Wi-Fi networks
  • Wipe data with Darik’s Boot and Nuke if you donate/dispose of your computer, digital copier, or similar equipment
  • Consider cyber insurance (Your Professional Liability Fund coverage does not protect against data loss).

Read all 15 tips here.

Malware May Be Preinstalled On Your Computer

“For years, users have been blamed when malware infects their computers and repeatedly warned not to open attachments from unknown email senders or download software from dubious sources.  But a major manufacturer now says that malware sometimes is already preinstalled when purchasers first open the packaging of their new computers.”

Holy smokes!  This comes from a post today at the ABA Journal Law News Now.

The story continues:

A Thursday post on the Official Microsoft Blog blames what it calls a “broken” supply chain for infected computers on which malware has been installed, embedded in counterfeit versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system software.

“A supply chain between a manufacturer and a consumer becomes unsecure when a distributor or reseller receives or sells products from unknown or unauthorized sources,” the post says, explaining that cybercriminals have been able to infiltrate the retail market by offering below-cost, malware-infected products.

“What’s especially disturbing,” the post continues, “is that the counterfeit software embedded with malware could have entered the chain at any point as a computer travels among companies that transport and resell the computer.”

So what to do? Certified smart folks will likely have some recommendations.  My first thought?  Have an anti-malware, anti-virus product in hand and ready to install the second you break open the packaging of your new computer.  (You may want more than one!) After installation force an update of the virus/malware/spyware definitions or verify the program has run an update.  Next, run a full scan of your computer.  When you’re done, get on Twitter and follow Peter Porcaro (@PorcaroLaw) who picked up and tweeted this story.  Thank you Peter!

For security tips and software suggestions check out the following:

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Are you on the Internet frequently?  Do you routinely stay online longer than you intended?  Are you often preoccupied with thoughts of the Internet?  Is your smartphone always by your side, at the ready to send a text or check e-mail?  If the answer to these questions is yes, then you may have a problem.

In the May issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, Sharon Nelson and John Simek write about Internet addiction and compulsive use of technology.  Here is what they suggest to maintain your sanity, your health, and your relationships:

  • Avoid giving your cell phone number to clients except in rare circumstances;
  • Specify when you will respond to e-mail in your retainer agreement.  Also explain your e-mail reply policy during extended absences;
  • Private time for you and your family is sacred.  Try to turn computers off and put smartphones away after dinner;
  • Guard vacation time.  If you must check in with the office, limit the time you spend on work to a set amount of minutes per day – the rest can wait;
  • Create similar rules at work.  When you need to focus on a project, power-off your phone and turn off e-mail notifications.

In short:  Get Unwired or Come Unglued, a very apt title for Sharon and John’s article.

Marketing in Turbulent Times

In the January 2010 issue of the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, the team of Sharon Nelson and John Simek address how to keep your practice afloat in turbulent times. 

They offer 10 practical tips:

  • Utilize Your Real Life Network
  • Get Up to Speed on Social Networking
  • Be Careful With What You Do and Say on Social Networking Sites
  • Perfect Your Elevator Speech
  • Contemplate Alternative Billing (Your clients are)
  • Take Good Care of Current Clients
  • Your Web Site is Probably Your Most Powerful Marketing Vehicle
  • Don’t Stop Marketing in Bad Times, But Look at HOW You Are Marketing
  • Show Me the Money!
  • Keep Sniffing the Air

Sharon and John always have worthwhile advice.  While a Web site and social networking do play a role – don’t forget the human side.  Put effort into keeping your current clients happy.  Maintain and build on relationships.   As Sharon and John note, “Clients are hard and expensive to replace.  And current clients are one of the best sources of referrals.” 

Read the full article here.

Copyright Beverly Michaelis 2010