Tag Archives: Technology Competence

New Software Scam

Do you have antivirus/malware software on your PC/Mac/Server? If so, pay close attention to that software’s renewal terms. Watch out for any future phishing emails that contain an attached invoice. The scam asks you to either click a link to renew your subscription or call the phone number listed on the fake invoice to cancel. 

Tips to Avoid Antivirus / Malware Software Scams

  • Visit the software company’s verified URL and pay through the software company’s portal
  • Calendar renewal dates
  • Keep your antivirus/malware software up to date
  • Know the general terms of all software on your PC/Mac
  • Avoid paying invoices through email
  • When in doubt, look in the software settings to find Support info. Don’t always trust contact information on search engines because sometimes the business information can be claimed by scammers.
  • Sometimes scammers pry on your browsing habits or purchases. Be sure to limit browser data collection by checking your browser’s security and browser settings
  • Keep all other software on your PC or Mac up to date
  • Educate your staff on technology scams so they know what to watch out for too
  • Check with your IT professional to make sure the software you use is up to date with today’s cybersecurity market, malware, scams

Visit www.scbar.org/tech for great links or email pmap@scbar.org for more advice.

Running and Running: Easy and Painless Ways to Keep Up with Technology

Keeping up with legal technology sometimes reminds me of the lyrics of a Pink Floyd song: 

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking, 

Racing around to come up behind you again” 

Here are some resources to help you keep up with – and stay on top of – technology issues that affect lawyers personally and professionally.   

Any discussion of legal technology starts with the resources available with your SC Bar membership. If you haven’t checked out the Bar website in a while, I would encourage you to see what is new there. The Bar Technology Committee has assembled a tremendous amount of material on a wide array of tech topics at http://www.scbar.org/tech, including tech competency (with sections on basic computer skills and training resources). Additionally, the Practice Management Assistance Program (PMAP) has a wide range of helpful tech links and resources at http://www.scbar.org/pmap.  

The Bar eBlast newsletter contains regular, timely tech tips that you can use immediately. If you missed any, you can catch up with the eBlast archives on the Bar’s website. Every year, the Bar CLE Division increases its tech offerings, including full day CLEs featuring nationally recognized speakers. Additionally, the stable of on demand CLEs, including Tech CLEs, is always growing. 

If you are a cheapskate thrifty like me, and books are your preferred medium of learning, check out the Bar lending library (online list at http://www.scbar.org/lendinglibrary) which stocks books on practice management and technology from the ABA and other publishers. It has titles such as Cloud 3.0 | Drafting and Negotiating Cloud Computing Agreements, The Internet of Thing Legal Issues, Policy and Practical Strategies, and the 2019 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide. The Bar constantly updates the titles available, so it is worth checking the new titles periodically. New books are tweeted out @SCBar_PMAP. 

Most attorneys I know use email as their primary form of communication. If you don’t want to sign up for a bunch of newsletters, check out the Technolawyer website. There are several newsletters available, and during the week you will get a curated list of links to articles specifically related to legal tech and tech issues in general.  Most newspapers, magazines, and other news websites have a specific business newsletter available. For more tech related coverage, CNET, How-To-Geek, and Tom’s Guide are all excellent resources. For cybersecurity related coverage, Krebs on Security provides a lot of good information. The SANS.org site has several good newsletters. OUCH is probably the most useful and informative for most people with an interest in, or need to be generally aware of, security threats. For good tech deals for personal or business use, you can sign up for the Wirecutter Deals and CNET Cheapskate newsletters. 

If you enjoy reading blogs, Law Technology Today is a good place to start. It provides an excellent overview of technology issues and, as the title suggests, focuses on lawyers. The Lawsites blog from Bob Ambrogi tracks legal news, websites, and products, and the Ride the Lightning blog, written by Sharon Nelson, discusses ediscovery and information security.  They both provide digestible amounts of information. If you need some more ideas, the ABA publishes a list every year of the top 100 legal blogs.  

Podcasts are a great way to keep tabs on tech issues and developments. The Digital Edge is an outstanding podcast in which Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson conduct interviews and discuss issues related to law and tech. Digital Detectives features Sharon Nelson (again) and John Simek discussing computer forensics, ediscovery, and information security issues. The Kennedy-Mighell Report, featuring Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell, considers how technology can help attorneys. All three of those podcasts are directed at attorneys and their hosts are nationally known speakers on legal tech topics.  (As an aside, Nelson and Simek will be speaking at the 2020 Bar Convention and I am as excited as a teenager in one of those old film clips of people watching the Beatles get off a plane.) 

Other cybersecurity centered podcasts include the Cyberwire, a podcast that will give perspective on the many and varied current threats that are out there. Hacking Humans does a great job educating about scams, social engineering, phishing schemes, and online criminal activity. Hosts Dave Bittner and Joe Carrigan make what can sometimes be a dry or overwhelming topic manageable and enjoyable, and it will help you become more aware of the dangers in the online world. The episode entitled “Just Because I Trusted You Yesterday Doesn’t Mean I Trust You Today” featured an interview with the IT director for an Orlando Florida law firm that thwarted an attempt to misdirect settlement funds by paying attention and using some common sense. Other good informative and entertaining podcasts are Reply All, Grumpy Old Geeks, and Clockwise. If you are more interested in legal management, systems, and technology, the Lean Law Firm (co-hosted by Dave Maxfield, SC Bar member and frequent CLE speaker) is worth a try.  

If you take a little time to avail yourself of the (mostly free) resources out there, you should have no trouble keeping up with technology that you use both personally and professionally. To quote GI Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.” 

By: Mike Polk, Chair
SC Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, South Carolina

Let’s Be Careful Out There

One of my favorite television shows growing up was Hill Street Blues. Sergeant Esterhaus (played by Michael Conrad) would conduct roll call, and he would always close with the same words of advice. “Let’s be careful out there.” In keeping with that theme, the now revived South Carolina Bar Technology Committee focused its entry at the bar convention on People, Processes, and Technology: Practical Information Security for Attorneys. Here are some highlights from Mary Lucas, Jacqueline Pavlicek, and Jack Pringle, members of the committee and presenters. 

  1. You need to be constantly vigilant. Unfortunately, information security is not a one time fix. Just like the rest of our practice (and life), everything changes — the threats, the responses, the software, and the other tools required to keep information safe. 
  1. You don’t need to be a superhero to master the basics. Criminals look for easy targets. Regardless of where you are on the computer savvy scale, there are simple steps you can take to dissuade someone looking for an easy score, such as; 
  • Using strong, unique passwords for your online accounts (bonus points for using a password manager.) 
  • Patching and updating all of your software, applications, and operating systems. (You would be surprised at how much protection this affords.) 
  • Using dual factor authentication. 
  • Avoiding public computers or WiFi. If you are going to work at Starbucks, a hotel, or an airport, for example, use a virtual private network (VPN). 
  • Avoiding clicking on links in emails supposedly from your financial institution or other online account. (Your password manager might help you here because it shouldn’t log you in to a strange website.) 
  • Backing up your data. In this day and age, there is no reason not to have at least two backups. 
  • Testing your backups. In the words of Stan Lee, “”nuff said”. 
  • Password protect your cell phone and other mobile devices. 
  • Being skeptical. Part of being a lawyer is to plan for the worst and, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, trust but verify. Applying that same skepticism to your digital interactions will make you a hard target. 
  1. You don’t need to run your organization like Fort Knox. Once again, merely doing the basics may keep your organization out of harm’s way by; 
  • Controlling access to your offices, computers, and computer networks. 
  • Protecting and security your computer networks (including wireless networks) . 
  • Installing updates and patches to all software. 
  • Backing up the data of the whole organization. 
  • Training all members of the organization. Anything helps. If you see something on the morning news about a new virus, pass it on. If you read an article from a bar journal of your choice about the importance of security, pass it on. Repetition is the key. A byproduct of this awareness may be more open communication, so if someone gets an email claiming to have nude pictures of the recipient and, to prove it, provides an old password, that person might be more apt to ask someone ahead of time before clicking on a link. (Note: If you haven’t heard, this is a real scam making the rounds.) 
  1. If you send or receive wires, 2019 is the year to tighten up your procedures. Here are some tips the speakers shared: 
  • Consider having two authorized people to send a wire — one to initiate and one to approve. 
  • Validate all payment instructions even if they appear to be internal, particularly if the instructions are marked urgent or confidential. It is worth picking up the phone or walking down to visit (imagine that—talking to someone face to face!) 
  • The best practice is to make and confirm payment methods or instructions by phone. Do not use the contact information in the suspicious email!!! 
  • Guard and monitor your bank accounts. 
  • Consider using encrypted email communications or client portal. (Don’t be surprised if in five or ten years encryption is the rule, not the exception.) 
  1. Consider calling in some professional help, or asking questions of the help you have. Everyone knows that person who you can rely on to fix your document formatting, to get the printer working, to install new software, to generally squash your tech bugs. However smart your neice or nephew is, or your friend’s cousin’s son in law, or whoever, make sure that they know the security end of things. Most people I know have a “break fix” mentality, that is, if it ain’t broke, don’t worry about fixing it. As discussed above and at the bar convention, that will not keep you safe. So,whoever you get to help you, check out the SC Bar website for some tips on the right questions them.  

So, on behalf of the SC Bar Technology Committee, let’s be careful out there. 

By: Mike Polk, Chair
SC Bar Technology Committee
Belser & Belser, PA
Columbia, SC

Books Help Lawyers Learn Technology

Some of us prefer good, old-fashioned paper and ink. When adopting new (or new-to-us) technology, it may be easier to grasp if we can read up on the technology before we dive into using it. Studies show there are real benefits to reading from paper rather than a screen, including increased speed and recall.

Here are a few paper-and-ink books that can help any lawyer increase their comfort level with technology that is relevant to their law practice. SC Bar members can check out any of these books by mail from the SC Bar Lending Library, or in person from the law library at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple by Nelson, Simek, and Maschke offers current recommendations of what technology to buy and use. The authors explain what technology they believe the average lawyer needs and why; when a free or low-cost product is sufficient; and why it is advisable to upgrade specific features.

The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook: A Resource for Attorneys, Law Firms, and Business Professionals, Second Edition by Rhodes and Litt focuses on information security. Authors explain how hackers are updating their means of attack, and offer ideas for protective measures that are tailored to suit lawyers in private practice, in-house, non-profit, or government settings.

Cloud Computing for Lawyers by Nicole Black defines cloud computing and lays out the risks and benefits of using cloud-based billing systems and/or practice management systems. Ethics, privacy, and security are all addressed, along with practical tips on incorporating cloud-based services into your law practice. The sample terms, policies, and agreements in the appendices appeal to the lawyer in all of us.

Electronic Discovery for Small Cases: Managing Digital Evidence and ESI by Olson and O’Connor recognizes that e-discovery is not just for large cases handled by large law firms anymore. Litigators at smaller firms or who may be dealing with smaller quantities of electronically stored information (ESI) will benefit from the authors’ guidance on budget-friendly solutions for producing, searching, and managing ESI at every stage of litigation.

Fastcase: The Definitive Guide by Brian Huddleston introduces lawyers to the free—that’s right, free—legal research platform available to SC Bar members. The author walks the reader through the basics of using Fastcase to search cases, statutes, regulations, and more. The book also includes lesser known tips and tricks. For example, if you have a document on your computer that contains case citations, you can drop that document into Fastcase Cloud Linking to turn those case citations into links that a judge, a client, or anyone else—with or without a Fastcase subscription of their own—can click on to view the cases themselves.

Find Info Like a Pro: Mining the Internet’s Public Records for Investigative Research by Levitt and Rosch puts a wealth of publicly available information at a lawyer’s fingertips. Factual research can be as important as legal research when lawyers need to discover addresses for service of process; names of potential heirs; real and personal assets; liens, judgments, and UCCs; professional licenses; and more.

LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers by Kennedy and Shields introduces this online professional networking tool to those who aren’t familiar with using social media for business connections and referrals. The authors use layman’s terms to explain what LinkedIn is, how it works, and how to get started. Note that there are many other titles in the “…In One Hour for Lawyers” series. The ABA Law Practice Management Section’s goal in publishing these is to help busy lawyers get up to speed on a particular platform or software, with a focus on understanding whether and how it can help their practice.

Social Media as Evidence: Cases, Practice Pointers, and Techniques by Briones and Tagvoryan guides lawyers through social media issues that come up in practice. The authors carefully demonstrate what happens when legal concepts that have always applied to documents (authentication, discovery, litigation hold, preservation, records retention policy) are now applied in the social media realm.

Check Out a Book on Legal Technology
All the books described above are available for checkout from SC Bar’s PMAP Lending Library (by mail) and the law library at USC School of Law (in person). These are only a small sampling of the current guides to technology available in print from booksellers and libraries. It’s worth asking your local community college or university library, or your local public library, whether they can loan you these and other legal technology books. Even if such books are not on the shelves, you may be able to request to borrow them for free through an interlibrary loan.

Eve Ross, Reference Librarian
Univeristy of South Carolina School of Law Library
SC Bar Technology Committee