Equihacked

mirrored images of computer code written in green on a black background

Photo by Cheryl Pellerin | Dept. of Defense

By Christine Phipps

Equifax announced in September that they discovered a data breach on July 29, that occurred mid-May through July, which affects 143 million Americans.

The hackers were able to access the Equifax data through a security flaw in the Equifax website. In a Sept. 7 post on krebsonsecurity.com, security expert Brian Krebs said, “Equifax may have fallen behind in applying security updates to its internet-facing Web applications. Although the attackers could have exploited an unknown flaw in those applications, I would fully expect Equifax to highlight this fact if it were true – if for no other reason than doing so might make them less culpable and appear as though this was a crime which could have been perpetrated against any company running said Web applications.” The Fort Knox of our identity information was asleep at the wheel.

While this isn’t the largest breach, it’s one of the most serious because the hackers accessed names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and driver’s license numbers. These are the essential elements to take out loans, open credit-card accounts, and more.

Visit equifaxsecurity2017.com to find out if you were affected by clicking on the “Potential Impact” button. Make sure you are on a secure computer (not a hotel or public computer) and are using a secure internet connection (not a public network like a local coffee shop, etc.). Equifax is offering free credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, and other items for those affected. I have always had credit monitoring so that I receive alerts in balance increases and decreases, new accounts, and credit inquiries. If you do not have a system of monitoring in place, I would strongly suggest you do so.

Christine Phipps, RPR, is a freelancer and agency owner in North Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of the NCRA Board of Directors. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.

TechLinks: Computer TLC

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a member of the 2016-2017 NCRA Technology Committee, recently shared a few links on how to give your computer some tender loving care, including adding guest accounts, figuring out the best backup solution, a remote-access app, and how to speed up a slow computer.

The Aug. 25 post on How-To Geek entitled “How to Let Someone Else Use Your Computer Without Giving Them Access to All Your Stuff” talks about why you should set up a guest account and, more importantly, how to do it on different operating systems including Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, and Chromebook.

Another recent piece on How-To Geek answers “What’s the Best Way to Back Up My Computer?“ The article suggests a few offsite and onsite backup solutions (both free and paid), argues a case for having more than one kind of solution, and provides some tips on automating backups.

On Aug. 22, PC Mag reviewed GoToMyPC, which is their top choice for remote-access software. According to the review: “Of all the remote-access apps we’ve tested, it has — by a slight margin — the best combination of security, ease of use, and feature-rich services. Unlike rival products, it’s also almost entirely controlled from a web browser interface or by clicking a desktop shortcut that connects to a remote machine.”

A slow computer is a uniquely 21st century annoyance, but in an Aug. 23 post, PCWorld offered “nine ways to speed up your Windows 10 PC without spending a dime.”

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This second installment covers cloud backup, password management, and efficient internet searches.

In a July 21 article on How-To Geek, Cameron Summerson talks about how to use Google’s Backup and Sync tool to automatically backup information — including documents, photos, and videos — onto Google Drive. Summerson talks a bit about what this tool is and how it works, and then goes step by step through the process of setting it up. The Backup and Sync tool works on both PCs and Macs, and it allows the user to sync either an entire computer drive or only specific folders.

In a July 21 article for PC Mag, Michael Ansaldo presents the best password managers of 2017. Ansaldo talks about what a password manager does, why it’s important, and how PC Mag chose the best overall and the runner up. The article includes links to reviews for all of the password managers that PC Mag considered.

In a July 18 reprint on SlawTips (the original ran on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog), Alan Kilpatrick offers some tips on using Google Search for efficiently. Kilpatrick focuses on using specific search terms and then using the different search operators and filters — including combining them — to “craft powerful queries and locate good results.” The article ends with a few reminders about evaluating search results for authenticity, etc.

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1.”

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This first installment covers ethics and cybersecurity, a tech gadget, and a data-storage solution.

In the July 2017 GPSolo eReport for the American Bar Association (ABA), lawyers Al Harrison and Joseph Jacobson talk about what ransomware is, how it can affect your computer, and how to deal with it ethically. “Often portrayed as attacking an operating system such as Windows or Mac OS, ransomware is, unfortunately, more sophisticated and more destructive than you may perceive from a cursory review of reported invasive malware events,” Harrison and Jacobson say. This is the first in a series on cloud computing and ethics. GPSolo is the solo, small firm, and general practice division of the ABA.

In a July 20 post for PCMag, William Harrel reviews the Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner. “There are some other much more sophisticated portable document scanners out there, such as the $300 Epson WorkForce ES-300W Portable Wireless Duplex Document Scanner, but if all you need is to scan relatively short documents to your laptop on the road, the Duplex Travel Scanner is a terrific alternative to the RoadWarrior X3—especially if those documents are two-sided,” says Harrel.

A July 17 post on How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick discusses how to set up a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. “A NAS, simply put, is a computer optimized for data storage, often with additional functionality layered on top,” explains Fitzpatrick. In the post, Fitzpatrick goes through the physical setup – including hard-drive selection, how to add the drives, and where to put a NAS – how to configure the NAS, and how to use the DiskStation Manager (with screenshots!).

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2.”

TechLinks: Windows 10 and securing your network

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA Technology Committee offered some updates on Windows 10 and keeping your network secure.

“Encryption … [is] about protecting your sensitive data in case you ever lose your PC, which is something everyone needs,” reminds an article on How-To Geek. The article offers tips on how to make sure the Windows 10 system works for you.

Another tech-savvy website, MakeUseOf, offers a list of the seven top firewall programs to consider for your computer’s security.

A Jan. 20 article on TechConnect showcases a few of the new features planned for the Windows 10 Creators Update, coming this spring.

Finally, because everyone needs a laugh now and then, the committee offered a few funny memes on BoredPanda.com for readers’ amusement.

 

TechLinks: Keeping organized with technology

TechLinks_logoIf one of your 2017 resolutions is to get more organized, the NCRA Technology Committee has your back.

A trio of tips from makeuseof.com offers strategies to reach inbox zero with your gmail account, use the camera on your iPhone to manage your life and help you remember things, and use Google calendar more efficiently.

A Jan. 10 article from Inside Counsel offers information about three startups that help manage your calendar. While originally written for lawyers, it is easily adaptable for court reporters.

Keep in mind that Acrobat Pro DC allows users to scan or snap a photo of a paper document, then edit the graphics or text with fonts that match the original, which keeps you organized wherever you are.

TechLinks: Printers, iOS 10, and portable keyboards

NCRA’s Technology Committee has already started finding information on the products members need for the future. This time, the group offers great starts to your research for upgrading to iOS10 on the iPhone; 2016’s best printers; and suggestions for portable keyboards for your tablets or mobile devices.

Technology Committee co-chair Nancy Bistany, RPR, of Chicago, Ill., shared an article from Business Insider about the iPhone’s iOS 10. From how to unlock your phone to a new keyboard configuration, here’s what you need to know. Read more.

Technology Committee member Lisa A. Knight, RDR, CRR, of Littleton, Colo., pointed out a slideshow by TechConnect.com of portable keyboards to use with tablets and mobile devices. This quick-and-easy read gives the basics on seven readily available keyboards. Read more.

A chart on PCMag.com found by Technology Committee member Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, of Portland, Ore., offered information about 10 different printers currently on the market. The chart includes links to reviews of each printer. Read more.

TechLinks: From apps to touch screens

NCRA’s Technology Committee pulled together a collection of technology blogs from apps for business people to a yet-to-be-released way to turn any computer into a touch screen.

A post of 10 great apps for productivity by lawyer Katie Floyd of Mac Power Users Podcast offers a wide-ranging set of tools for business-people. Read more.

The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg by Ted Brooks offered tips on using electronic exhibit stickers. The Aug. 5 post focuses on using TrialDirector. Read more.

A new product, the NeoNode AirBar, plans to turn any computer into a touch screen. The 11.6-in. bar is available for pre-order at $69. Read more.

TechLinks: Keeping your information secure

NCRA’s Technology Committee rounded up a group of tech-related articles about keeping your computer files and other information secure, an ever-increasing concern in a world where privacy and security are becoming more and more important. Two articles explain what to look for in scams and the remainder offer suggestions for keeping your devices and information secure.

A tech sector employee explains her vishing – voice phishing — experience and how such scams can threaten the information security of a business. The YouTube video also gives information on how to recognize and how to avoid such scams. See video.

How to recognize a risky email was the topic of a June 16 post on lawyerist.com. Whether avoiding viruses or phishing scams, this article offers the basics for keeping your computer safe. Read more.

A July 4 post on Gizmo’s Freeware, a community website for reviewing free software, suggested Safepad as a simple Windows notepad replacement that uses encryption. Read more.

Bringing the above together, also check out an ABA article on building strong passwords to protect your information from its June issue. The suggestions include using longer words, using both letters – a mix of upper and lowercase – and numbers, and other tricks to make your devices more secure. Read more.

An article in PC Magazine about encrypting data on external drives is a reminder to protect clients’ confidential information as well.  Read more.

Alert: Adobe Flash users should download emergency patch

TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

Adobe issued an alert that Flash users need to update to the latest version as hackers took advantage of a security flaw to install ransomware on computers.

Adobe Flash is a software platform that runs video, animation, and games inside of Web pages. Flash was born when the Web began in 1996 and quickly became the standard for Web video, especially after a little startup called YouTube began using it in 2005. Now it’s largely obsolete, as most websites and apps use different technologies for the same purpose. In fact, in July 2015, Google and Mozilla (Firefox) each announced that their Web browsers will be dropping default support for Adobe Flash, citing the plug-in software’s newly discovered vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. Those moves came only a few days after Facebook’s chief of security called for Adobe to set an “end of life” date for the often exploited 20-year-old platform.

That being said, pretty much everyone that uses the Internet still uses Flash. If the sites you go to do not use Flash, uninstall it. Flash is a program, so uninstall it like you would any other program.

Ransomware has been becoming increasingly popular, hitting law firms and organizations as well as individuals. After visiting an infected website, your computer will install ransomware, which locks you out of your computer until you pay hackers a specified amount of money.

I know we say it over and over again and present it in some form at every convention, but I’m going to say it again because it obviously bears repeating: Back up all of your data. If you do get a ransomware attack, you will have your information saved and you won’t be scrambling to come up with the ransom money to get your important files back — and that’s if they even do uphold their end of the deal.  I recommend a cloud backup and local firmware back up.

You can find the current version number of flash: adobe.com/software/flash/about/.  After you locate which browser you use, write down the number. Then go to your browser and look in your gear icon or something similar, or you can go to install/uninstall programs and look for Adobe Flash and match each one as there are different programs for different browsers. You should also update your software as soon as a new version is released or have set to auto update because there are often security and bug fixes included within them. You should absolutely be running antivirus software as well.

Protect yourself by staying up-to-date with backups and current versions of your particular OS service pack releases and programs.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of North Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.