Sensei’s Sharon Nelson and John Simek were recently featured in Attorney at Work‘s Friday Tech Tips “Cybersecurity Tech Tips: Stay Vigilant Out There!” by Joan Feldman.
Sharon Nelson and John Simek: Practice Safe Browsing
Practicing safe computing is a constant battle. It seems like the “bad guys” are always thinking of new ways to compromise your machine and get access to your data. You can improve your cybersecurity posture by practicing safe browsing. Start by using Chrome as your default browser. Next, add some extensions to block certain activity. Some of our favorites include:
- DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials to block hidden trackers and protect your privacy.
- Privacy Badger from the EFF to block spying ads and hidden trackers.
- AdBlock to block YouTube, Facebook and ads everywhere else on the web.
- IDN Safe to block internationalized domain names to prevent you from visiting probable fake sites.
- Windows Defender Browser Protection provides an additional layer of protection when browsing online.
Finally, install the PassProtect extension from the Chrome webstore, which alerts you if your password has been previously discovered in a data breach. It is powered by the database of Have I Been Pwned?
“Are Alexa and Her Friends Safe to Use in Your Law Office? The Pros and Cons of Personal Assistants” by Sensei’s Sharon Nelson and John Simek was featured in the June 2018 issue of Res Gestae, the journal of the Indiana State Bar Association. Res Gestae’s mission is to be a magazine with an emphasis on legal topics of practical value to lawyers.
Alexa is just one of the virtual assistants available for lawyers today. There’s also Google Home/Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby on the Galaxy S8 and S8+. Siri was the first on the market but has rapidly lost ground to Alexa and Google Assistant, the two big players in the virtual assistant offerings. Google has the advantage for research since it has access to the power of Google search. Alexa is a better integration device, especially with the addition of “skills” that allow it to connect to other services and apps. Bixby is the newest player in the virtual assistant space and promises to have some unique features that don’t exist in the others. One such feature is the ability to take a picture of something in a foreign language (e.g. road sign, business advertisement, etc.) and Bixby will translate it for you.
With huge volumes of law firm confidential data (and data from other verticals) moving to the cloud, it is no wonder that the bad guys are taking aim at the clouds. And there seems to be a shift afoot, in which the main responsibility for protecting corporate data in the cloud belongs to the cloud customer rather than the cloud provider.
The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) recently issued the latest version of its Treacherous 12 Top Threats to Cloud Computing Plus: Industry Insights report.
While there are many security concerns in the cloud, CSA’s list focuses on 12 concerns specifically related to the shared, on-demand nature of cloud computing. CSA conducted a survey of industry experts to gather professional opinions on the greatest security issues involving cloud computing. In order of severity, here are the 12 risks.
“Ransomware: No Honor Among Thieves and More Expensive” by Sensei’s Sharon Nelson and John Simek was featured in the June 2018 issue of the San Bernardino Bar Association Bulletin.
Excerpt: The FBI says that ransomware nets cybercriminals $1 billion a year. No wonder so many people want a piece of that pie.
Computerworld recently reported that hackers spreading ransomware are getting greedier. In 2016, the average ransom demand to provide the decryption key for encrypted data rose to $1,077, up from $294 the year before, according to a report from security firm Symantec. Symantec also reported a 36% increase in ransomware in 2016 from the prior year. We are aware of small law firms in Virginia that paid $1200 and $3000 to get their data back – the damage being furthered by the length of time it took to restore the data.
Helping to fuel the ransomware boom is the digital black market, where hackers can sell ransomware kits for as little as $10 and as much as $1,800, making it easier for other cybercriminals who can’t code to get a piece of the action.
Sensei Officers Sharon Nelson, John Simek, and Michael Maschke were featured in the July 2018 edition of YourABA. The article, “Technology musts for solos and small-firm lawyers” is a Q&A highlighting a lot of topics discussed in their book The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide. YourABA is an e-newsletter for members of the American Bar Association.
Excerpt: Like big firms, solo and small firms have to contend with a dizzying array of technology decisions that can make a big difference in the success of their law practice.
To aide them, Sharon D. Nelson, John W. Simek and Michael C. Maschke have published the 11th edition of “The 2018 Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guide: Critical Decisions Made Simple.”
The guide offers specific, up-to-date information about the pros and cons of the latest computers, laptops, tablets, operating systems, document assembly programs and more. It covers all aspects of client portals, encrypted emails, laptop and cellphone searches at the border, the legal gig economy and tips for getting the most out of remote access. There are handy checklists for buying or leasing printers, cloud computing contracts and case management choices, among others.
The authors run Sensei Enterprises, a digital forensics, information technology and cybersecurity firm in Fairfax, Va. YourABA reached them to find out more…
Clearly, he is a lot smarter than us. We can’t even imagine the extent of his profit – several days
before we started to write this article, bitcoin hit an all-time high of $4,991.66 on September 2,
2017. It is down slightly as we write, but our friend certainly hit a jackpot.
We become aware of bitcoin wallets a few years ago, as husbands (mostly) began to hide assets
from their soon-to- be ex-wives in those wallets. And then came a barrage of ransomware
attacks. Law firm after law firm was paying the ransom ($300-$500 in the early days and $1500-
$3000 today). The cybercriminals usually want the ransom in bitcoin. To our amazement, there
are now bitcoin ATMs available in local gas stations and laundromats complete with posted
instructions on creating a bitcoin wallet for the Bitcoin novice.
In July, there were reports of a Citrix UK study which found that a third of UK companies were
stockpiling digital currency, mostly in bitcoins, to pay the ransom (an average of approximately
$176,000) if they became victims of a ransomware attack.
At the 2017 ILTACON conference, artificial intelligence wasn’t quite kicked to the curb, but the
buzz around blockchain became very loud indeed. In the last several months, it has become
increasingly clear that blockchain is a transformative technology that is going to make
substantial changes in the practice of law.
Virtual assistants market themselves by saying they will save you time and money, but the reality is working with them comes with its own set of cybersecurity risks. In this episode of Digital Detectives, hosts Sharon Nelson and John Simek talk to Tom Lambotte about the data dangers involved with using virtual assistants and what lawyers can do to protect themselves. They discuss the right questions to ask when seeking virtual assistance and the advantages of having contracts in place.
Tom Lambotte is currently the CEO of GlobalMac IT.
The Data-Driven Ethics Initiative is a research project that aims to use legal services data to modernize legal rules for professional conduct. In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk to Erin Gerstenzang about the initiative and the current landscape of ethics reform including lawyer regulations. Additionally, Erin delves into the challenges of ethics reform and how design-thinking can help.
Erin Gerstenzang is a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. She primarily handles DUI and other drug and alcohol related offenses.