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Posts published in June 2017

How to Prevent Scams from Quickly Happening to your Firm

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When it comes to scams, experts say, it is not a matter of IF a law firm will be targeted but WHEN. Law firm data is some of the most coveted and confidential hidden treasure in the world. Hackers and scammers know data is a precious resource...so, as a law firm, you, are their big red target.

What are some ways you can better prepare your solo, small, medium, or large firm for some of the wackiest, craziest, and disguised scams? Check out our 20 tips below.

20 Tips for Law Firms on How to Educate and Prevent Scams

1.      Follow the FTC website and US-CERT for privacy, identity, and online security updates.

2.      Hire certified professionals to support/update your computer hardware and software.

3.      Update anti-virus/security software on a regular basis. This is especially important with ransomware like WannaCry and a cyberthreat called Petya roaming the internet.

4.      Make sure your pop-up filter is up-to-date (comes with most security software).

5.      Always check links before clicking on them. Look for misspellings or other irregularities. Hover over the link before you click on it.

6.      Always make sure site URLS indicate HTTPS before using them.

7.      Email messages from friends or from companies you trust require scrutiny. Treat emails, links, and attachments with suspicion. Call to verify that entity/friend sent it to you.

8.      Don’t follow links in bank emails, etc. Instead use your browser to enter the URL.

9.      Never use public Wi-Fi or hotspots. Be careful with private Wi-Fi connections that you are not sure what the security measures are.

10. Contact hardware/software companies directly for assistance. Do not trust companies that contact you directly (with the initiated call).

11. Never allow a “company” (no matter who) perform a “free security scan”.

12. If you get a call from a company or someone claiming to be tech support, hang up.

13. If you get a pop-up message that tells you to call tech support, ignore it.

14. If your computer brings up a concern you are not sure about, call your security software company directly but do not use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Instead, look for the company’s contact information online or on a software package or your receipt.

15. Never share your passwords or give control to your computer to anyone who contacts you.

16. Change any passwords that you share with someone. Assign unique passphrases to every online account.

17. If you pay for bogus services with a credit card, call the credit card company directly and ask them to reverse the charges.

18. Watch for unauthorized charges to your accounts. Also, watch for unauthorized activity on your computers.

19. Never reveal personal or financial information in emails or text messages.

20. Report scams to www.ftc.gov/complaint. Report computer security incidents to US-CERT https://www.us-cert.gov/forms/report and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

P.S. If you've been impacted by a scam or technical attack that your fellow Bar members should know about, please share your experience with us by emailing pmap@scbar.org.

Fastcase Live Chat: Where the Answers are At!

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Live research assistance and customer support is an important part of your South Carolina Bar Fastcase benefit. Did you know Live Chat is one of the best ways to take advantage of this service?

It works just like an instant messaging program and allows you to get personalized help while multitasking and doing your own research.  Customer service representatives send links to search results, cases, etc., making it one of the most efficient ways to get assistance.

To access Live Chat, login to the South Carolina Bar homepage via the LOG IN button. Once you are logged in, hover over the “For Lawyers link” and click on “Fastcase Legal Research”. Then click the green “Access Fastcase” button about halfway down the page. You will be directed to your Fastcase legal research page.

Click Help in the dark grey bar at the top of the screen. A Live Chat window will open on your screen. Type in your question here and wait for a Fastcase customer support associate to respond. Live Chat is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays.

Do you have questions about this tip or how to log in to the Bar’s website? Email fastcase@scbar.org for assistance.

Time Management Tips

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Are you a good time manager? If you are thinking “no,” then you are not alone. Here are 14 tips to help you manage your time better:

  • Carry a schedule or find a good calendar app for your phone. Record all thoughts and activities for the week.
  • Write a to-do checklist. Break down tasks into categories like URGENT, TODAY, THIS WEEK, THIS MONTH, THIS YEAR. Spend time first thing in the morning to plan your day.
  • Assign every activity or task with an appointment time. Leave enough time for interruptions.
  • Eat a frog. Whatever is your most dreaded task of the day, do that one first.
  • Learn to say no to commitments you do not care about or don’t have time for.
  • Purchase your favorite case management software and put it to work for you.
  • Put up a “do not disturb” sign when you have to get work done.
  • Close out of email and place your phone on mute. Make appointment times during the day to answer email and phone calls (9 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m.). Think of those as people walking into your office without an appointment.
  • Cut your smartphone on silent or if the option is available, set your phone to automatically send out a text message or voicemail to texters/callers when you are unavailable.
  • Avoid social media websites. Make appointments to check those during the morning or evening.
  • Set a timer or your stopwatch to challenge yourself to do a certain task in a certain amount of time.
  • Ask your staff to follow these tips for their own schedules and encourage them to meet these goals.
  • Review what you did not get done and reevaluate your checklist.
  • Remember Rome was not conquered in a day.

Check out these helpful website tips to help you manage your time wisely:

Also, stop by the Lending Library to check out the latest resources in time management plus much more! Visit the Lending Library page online or stop by the South Carolina Bar main building located at 950 Taylor Street, Columbia, SC and browse our collection.

Email pmap@scbar.org with any questions. We here to help you with resources to manage your practice!

How Safe are your Mobile Apps?

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Did you know there are over two million apps to choose from in the iPhone app and Google Play stores?

With that many options, it can be difficult for you to pick which apps are worth your time. Time.com shares the 25 Best Apps of the Year and PC Mag provides their 100 best Android and iPhone picks.

But, wait a minute! Before you download any of those apps (or apps that may be on your checklist to download), make sure to follow these tips to test whether each app is trustworthy and secure:

  1. Have you downloaded a security app that scans new apps for safety? If not, check out Sophos Mobile Security, Trend Micro, or Lookout.
  2. Make sure the "marketplace" is trustworthy. How do you know?
    1. Terms of Service are well written and developed.
    2. The marketplace/developer includes clear contact information and a troubleshooting frequently asked questions (FAQs) list if there is a problem.
    3. The marketplace follows strict app criteria.
    4. The developer provides regular updates to outdated apps.
    5. The marketplace removes vendors who do not meet this criterion in numbers one through four.
  3. Know the source. Never download an app outside of the iPhone or Google play store. Double check the "maker" is the trusted source. Third party apps from websites (outside of the iPhone or Google Play store) may contain hidden links or hijacking code.
  4. ALWAYS read the terms of service to see what rights and permissions you give the app.
  5. Pay attention to app ratings and the number of times the app has been downloaded.
  6. Check user reviews or comments to discover if there are any red flags or issues to be aware of.
  7. If an app offers a paid version, consider buying that version over the "free" version. The paid version is less likely to contain malware and phishing code behind it AND the terms of service (that you check or sign) may allow the company to access your data (photos, text messages, contacts, phone calls, location, etc.)
  8. Once the app is downloaded, click on the app settings to evaluate privacy, security, and general settings. Always change privacy and security settings from the default setting. Also, turn off any permissions you do not want the app to have access to (like photos, phone messages, text messages, location, contacts, etc.)
  9. Regularly re-evaluate apps you have downloaded on your phone. It is a best practice to minimize the number of apps that you download and regularly ask yourself, "have I used this app in the last week or month?" If the answer is no, delete it right away. Mobile apps that you do not open or pay attention to are likely to be targeted by hackers and cyber phishers.
  10.   Be careful downloading games and fun apps (coders love to hide some of the most malicious code where they know people will go for downtime/fun).

Remember your smartphone stores data like all your other devices. "Care" what you "Share!" Email pmap@scbar.org if you need assistance.

Don’t Blink: It’s Time to Prepare!

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If a natural disaster, freak accident, or unexpected illness were to happen, would you and your office be prepared?

Hurricanes, Floods, Tornadoes, Natural Disasters,  Freak Accidents, Unexpected Situations - OH MY!

June 1 marks the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season. However, now, is the perfect time to start thinking about other unexpected situations as well. What can you and your firm do to be prepared? Here are 12 important tips to help you:

  1. Determine your risk. Secure an insurance check up.
  2. Develop an evacuation plan.
  3. Put together a disaster supply kit.
  4. Develop an emergency contact list of your office staff and of individuals/businesses/entities, etc. that you or your staff contact on a regular basis. Store in a safe location both onsite and offsite.
  5. Strengthen your office. Make sure your office is in good repair of any physical issues or damages (examples: check trees, windows, doors, roofs, flooring, ceilings, etc. for any physical damages). Move filing systems to a higher location in the event of flooding. Create several backup systems in the event of physical or electronic file damage and do test restores to make sure they fully work. Always have a secured offsite backup in a safe location. Also, develop an inventory of all office contents.
  6. Complete your disaster plan, go over with all employees in your firm (so they know what to do in the event of a disaster), and store a copy in a safe location onsite and offsite.
  7. Review resources like Ready.govthe National Weather Servicethe National Hurricane Center and South Carolina Emergency Management Division.
  8. Download your copy of the South Carolina Hurricane Guide or pick up a copy at any S.C. Welcome Center, Walgreens or coastal DMV offices.
  9. Check out the Practice Management Assistance Program’s Disaster and Emergency Preparedness web page
  10. Check out the Practice Management Assistance Program's Lawyers in Transition in a Variety of Situations for resources on how to prepare for freak accidents, unexpected illnesses, or death of a lawyer).
  11. Request a copy of PREPARE, a free booklet, from the South Carolina Bar's Practice Management Assistance program.
  12. Remind your colleagues to do the same. It's great to be a good neighbor and lawyer who cares!

Remember, it only takes one event or unexpected situation to change your life and community forever.

Don't Blink: be prepared! Contact pmap@scbar.org if we can help.