I recently received a very professional looking e-mail which appeared to come from a survey company, asking me to help my law firm by responding to a short service survey. It even had a message from our Managing Partner which included his name and contact information. But – I did not recognize the sender. And, when I right-clicked on her e-mail address to check it out, the address looked odd.
So before going further, I sent the e-mail on to our IT group who quickly responded and told me that my suspicions were very justified – had I clicked on the “survey” link, I would have downloaded a particularly bad computer virus.
The incident reminded me again that whether we think about it or not, we live in an age where any one of us who uses any electronic device is under a constant threat of attack by sophisticated criminals (and foreign governments) who are constantly trying to steal from us. It also reminded me that each of us needs to not only be on the alert for such criminal attacks and we need to have a strategy for being prepared.
I am no expert on prevention but know someone who is – Rick Balzer, CEO of IntelesysOne, Inc. located in Ontario, California. The firm implements communications and technology solutions for clients. Recently, Rick provided me with some key cyber-security strategies. Here are the highlights for individuals. (The business strategies include some pretty technical details, so I would suggest that you get with your IT department.)
Personal Identity Protection
- Identity protection service (include your kids)
- Wipe (or destroy) unused electronics
- Don’t give out your info…ask why!
- Limit info on checks (i.e. no address, etc.)
- Check privacy settings on social media
- No paper statements
- Shred everything else….
Personal Financial Protection
- Get credit reports yearly and check them
- Consider blocking your credit with Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
- Pay bills at the Post Office or bet yet, online
- Cover when you ATM/pin
- Don’t sign credit cards (write “Ask for ID”)
- Shield your smartcard chips
- Use 1 credit card for recurring bills and 1 credit card that you take out of the house
Personal Technology Protection
- Keep your devices up to date and use security software
- Don’t click on links in emails
- Use a password manager tool; never save passwords on your browsers
- Use 2 factor authentication for everything that offers it
- Don’t let your devices out of your sign on travel
- Home Wifi – change the admin password, hide SSID, WPA2 encryption, Mac address filtering, offer Guest Wifi for friends
- Don’t use USB devices from others
- Only use your personal devices when a password is required to log into a website
- Never use public computers (hotels, libraries, etc., for personal stuff)
While an attorney can help unravel a mess once created, awareness and a plan for prevention can go a long way.
Best, Best & Krieger LLP