October 08, 2003

Practicing Safe Hex

To morph a phrase: Hey, don't put that in your computer! You don't know where it's been!

Jim Calloway, a good friend and Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program, authored "Computer Viruses to Spyware: Things You Don't Want to Pick up Online" in the October issue of Law Practice Today. This is a highly recommended read.

To Jim's savvy suggestions, I'll add my own, "Ten Steps to Online Privacy & Security".

I particularly liked these recent "Tips" articles, also on the recommended reading list:

Jim and Dennis are both serving on the TECHSHOW® Board this year, which as you can see, sums up the caliber of talent that puts this great conference together every year. (Full disclosure: I served on the TS planning board for 2002 and 2003, and am active in the ABA Law Practice Management section.)

From these gurus, perhaps the most important steps to highlight are:

1) Installing good defenses, keeping them updated and tested, and running scans frequently on your computer systems (firewall, antivirus, and pest-removers such as Spybot S&D, Ad-aware, PestPatrol, etc.). For example, test your firewall at Shields Up!

2) Patching your PC (operating system, browsers, office suite, e-mail programs, etc.).

3) Outsmart the spammers: In your e-mail program, turn off any preview pane features, disable java and javascript to thwart e-mail tapping, and don't open any suspected spam message. Even if it's "harmless" advertising, many spam messages contain web bugs that log your opening of the message and correlate it back to your e-mail so they can spam you again (and again and again and...).

4) Disable any automatic installation or launching features of your web browser (e.g., ActiveX) -- set them to prompt you instead.

5) Backup, Backup, Backup -- This is your first and last best defense against losing your valuable data and all the misery that accompanies it.

And the most important step:

6) Use your head: Many computer invaders get past all of these formidable defenses from the inside, using one powerful tool -- you. Jim's summary of the KRESV tests for identifying and avoiding spam on your own was very useful in this regard.

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management  |  Privacy & Security
Posted by Jeff Beard