Last week on the blog, we mentioned that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As a result, we are focusing on tips throughout the month of October that will enhance your cybersecurity practices. Here are just few you might find helpful:
1. Don’t underestimate the risks – I still hear way too often from lawyers the old saying, “It won’t happen to me.” I also still get asked the question, “Do I really need to worry about the risk?” The fact remains, however, that law offices are considered by attackers to be “one stop shops,” because they have well organized, high value information, often with weaker security than the clients they serve. And, if you do have a cybersecurity plan, know that the landscape is continually changing. What is low risk today maybe high risk tomorrow, so it is good to evaluate your plan regularly to ensure you are best protecting your office.
2. Patching – One of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself is to ensure your software is up-to-date. I am not talking about having the latest version of the software, but instead ensuring you have installed all the latest updates (unless you receive notice from the software company that it no longer services updates for that version). Most updates are security patches, so think twice about hitting the postpone button when you receive notice.
3. Use strong passwords – Passwords are still a critical part of account safety. Be sure you change your password from the default password settings that many products come with (usually something very basic like “password” or “12345678”). Many frauds begin by entering simple default passwords to see what information can be obtained. Avoid using obvious passwords like your name, your firm name or other things that are easily guessed. If you need suggestions on how to create a strong password, check out this article from How to Geek: How to Create Strong Passwords (and Remember it).
4. Use two-factor authentication when it is available – Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a simple way to add an extra layer of security to your accounts and devices. Two-factor authentication can be described as something you know (your username and password) and something you have (your cell phone where you can receive a text message code). While it might seem like just an extra step for you, it is a simple method that can prevent attackers from obtaining your information.
5. Be cautious when on Public WiFi – Ultimately, there is a reason they call it public WiFi, and the very nature of the network makes it more vulnerable to attackers. While public WiFi can be convenient, you should use caution when using the network. Using a VPN is a good option to securing your information when you need to use these networks.
October is one of my favorite times of the year. Fall…pumpkin spice…and Halloween is right around the corner. But even better, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month; it was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2004 as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online. This year’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” The theme encourages individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity. This is an important message for all of us, but is especially critical for lawyers and law firms, given the type of information we keep.
The results of the 2019 ABA TECHREPORT show 26% of survey respondents reported their firms have experienced some sort of security breach, including hacker activity and website exploits to more mundane incidents such as lost or stolen laptops. Of those that experienced some sort of security breach, consequences included consulting fees for repair (37%), downtime/loss of billable hours (35%), expense for replacing hardware or software (20%), destruction or loss of files (15%), notifying law enforcement of breach and notifying clients of the breach (9% each), unauthorized access to other (non-client) sensitive data (4%), and unauthorized access to sensitive client data (3%).
With respect to viruses, spyware and malware, the 2019 Survey results indicate more than a third of respondents (36%) have had systems infected, with 14% reporting complete destruction or loss of files.
In 2018, during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I might add, the ABA issued Formal Opinion 483 discussing a lawyer’s obligations after an electronic data breach or cyberattack. The opinion notes that when a data breach occurs involving—or having a substantial likelihood of involving—material client
information, lawyers have a duty to notify clients of the breach and to take other reasonable steps
consistent with their obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.
For the rest of this month, we will focus on providing you with useful tips to promote cybersecurity awareness and provide you with best practices to protect your information, in addition to discussing ethical obligations associated with cybersecurity. In the meantime, I encourage you to view the several resources already available on this blog from phishing emails to viruses and everything in between, we got you covered.
For more information and additional resources on Cybersecurity Awareness Month, please visit:
Zoom recently added additional built-in features to improve video and picture quality. These features can be helpful, since not all of us have that perfect place where natural light shines bright. If you find yourself scrambling around your house or the office to find good lighting conditions, you might want to familiarize yourself with the adjust for low light feature. This feature can brighten your video when there’s not enough light in your surroundings. To use:
Go to your Zoom desktop client.
In the Zoom desktop client, click your profile picture, then click Settings.
Click the Video tab.
Enable Adjust for low light.
By default, the setting will be set to Auto. However, you can select Manual and adjust the setting to the desired effect.
Multiple studies have shown the positive effects of expressing gratitude. For instance, in psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, take pleasure in good experiences, improve their health, build stronger relationships and increase resiliency.
In this YouTube video, An Experiment in Gratitude, the positive effects of expressing gratitude can be seen firsthand. The experiment revealed increases in happiness by 4.0 - 19% when individuals wrote thank you letters to an individual, and then called the person to express their gratitude by reading the letter they wrote. Even more interesting, the person who rated as the least happy that day showed the biggest increase in happiness after the activity was completed.
Expressing gratitude doesn’t need to be something complex to feel the benefits. Doing simple things like taking the time once a week to write down a few things you are grateful for is a good example. Starting a gratitude journal or writing gratitude messages to individuals to show appreciation are also simple ways to implement expressing gratitude in our lives.
With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals—whether that is other people, nature or a higher power. So, the next time you are having a stressful day in the office and maybe feeling down, try expressing gratitude to someone, whether that is family member, friend or a co-worker. Not only might you increase your happiness, but there is a good chance you might also benefit the person on the receiving end by giving them the opportunity to feel positive emotions as well.
Posted By Danielle M. Hall,
Monday, September 21, 2020
Updated: Friday, September 18, 2020
This week’s video tip shows how to password protect a PDF and how to remove metadata from your PDF’s by using some of the security features within Adobe Acrobat. To learn more about metadata, please visit our previous blog post.
This week’s focus is on the Search Bar area of Casemaker4 and how it can help you find exactly what you are looking for. If you have not tried the newest version of your member benefit, you can find instructions here.
In the Casemaker4 system, the search function is located at the top of the screen. This portion of your screen contains everything you need to conduct your searches. It centers around the search bar, where you can type in the information that you are looking for. Start with keywords, a citation or case name, section number, or whatever your needs may be.
When you click into the search bar, you will notice a menu appears. The first button, Recent Searches, allows you to view the searches you have recently conducted. These include the terms you typed in, as well as the date and time they were entered. Clicking these terms will allow you to regenerate that search.
The second option in the menu is Search Tips which provides you with a listing of search operators that function in the Casemaker system. Here you can see an example of the type of search that you can conduct, how we would type that into the system to utilize it, and a description of the results that would provide you with. A second click on the Search Tips button will close that information.
The third option is Advanced Search. Clicking this button will allow you to type in specific search information in a combination of your choosing, including keywords and search operators, citation, case name, docket number, court, attorney, judge, panel, and date range.
Directly to the left of the bar that you can type in is Casemaker’s Jurisdiction and Compilations menu. In the blue text on the search bar, you will see what jurisdictions and compilations are currently selected. Clicking on the menu will allow you to select as many or as few jurisdictions as you like.
Looking for all cases related to a particular state, including district and circuit decisions? Click the Related Federal box. Checking this box will allow you to receive results from your selected state or states as well as any federal material relevant to that jurisdiction specifically. Similarly, if you are conducting research in the Circuit Opinions, you can also use the Related State box to return results from your selected circuits and the corresponding state-level results as well.
Over on the right side of the menu, you can narrow your state-level results by compilation as well. Casemaker’s default is All Compilations, but if you are interested in only conducting a search in the admin code, for example, you can make that designation here.
At the bottom left of the Jurisdiction menu, you will see Save To My Settings. If the settings that you've just selected are your most normally used settings when conducting research in the Casemaker system, then you can click this to establish your choices as your default instead of automatically using Casemaker’s default. If you had previously conducted a search outside of your norm and would like to revert to your default, you can click the Use My Settings button. In the upper right of the menu, you will find the Clear All Checks option, which gives you the opportunity to clear all your checks with just one click as well. After you've made all your jurisdiction and compilation selections be sure to click the blue Save button in the bottom right to save them and continue with your search.
Need help forming a search query? Casemaker’s customer service staff is available from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday. You can give them a call at 877.659.0801, email them at email@example.com or click the Live Chat link in the upper right of the Casemaker screen.
Are you tired of fumbling to unmute yourself during Zoom meetings? If so, then I have the tip for you this week—use the "Push to Talk" feature by holding the down spacebar.
The "Push to Talk" feature allows the user to remain muted throughout a Zoom meeting and instead of grabbing for your mouse to unmute yourself, you just hold down the spacebar when you want to be unmuted and talk. Your screen will show a message indicating that you are temporarily unmuted and the microphone will appear green when you talk. In order to take advantage of this feature, however, you will need to make sure you have it turned on in your settings.
To turn the "Push to Talk" feature on:
In the Zoom Desktop Client, click your profile picture, then click Settings.
Click the Audio tab.
Check the option Press and hold SPACE key to temporarily unmute yourself.
Note: The space bar works only when Zoom is your main window.
It has been reported yesterday’s Zoom outage affected millions of users for several hours causing disruptions for businesses and students alike. By 8:30 a.m. yesterday I had received several messages inquiring whether Zoom was also down for me—of course, it was. There was nothing I could do about the outage, but it did inspire today’s tip. If you are ever wondering if something is down just for you or for everyone, then I suggest going tohttps://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/. This handy website allows you to check whether the problem is affecting everyone or if it is just something with your ISP or local area.
I am sure we have all been there before, you receive (or maybe you’re the one sending) the dreaded “when are you available for a meeting” email. I am sure you have tried/seen everything from the when are you available to the when are you NOT available. The result, however, tends to be the same—multiple emails over multiple days.
Sending or receiving this type of email isn’t necessarily the worst thing in world when you are dealing with just one or two other people. When there are several people involved, however, this type of email can become chaotic and difficult to track. One thing also becomes clear when your dealing with multiple people—and it doesn’t matter whether it is colleagues, clients or other professionals—we are all busy.
Over the last few months, the number of meetings you attend, including Zoom meetings, has probably increased. So, if you find yourself scheduling meetings, and it’s starting to feel like you are trying to herd cats and dogs, then I suggest you look at using a scheduling app.
Online scheduling apps, such as Doodle, Calendly, and Microsoft’s Findtime, can help you eliminate the back and forth, and many can integrate with your calendar, email, and other 3rd party apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting. Most are simple to use and involve sending an invite to the meeting attendees which includes available meeting dates and times they can pick from. The attendee can (and should) choose multiple potential meeting dates and times based upon their availability. Once everyone has marked their availability, you can easily see the best date and time to schedule your meeting. No more back and forth emailing!
The International Bar Association (IBA) has embarked on a global project aimed at addressing the mental wellbeing of legal professionals as COVID-19 exacerbates tensions in professional and personal lives. The key initial phase of the project consists of two global surveys – one for individual lawyers, the other for law firms and other legal institutions, including bar associations, law societies and in-house legal departments. The surveys are anonymous and take approximately ten minutes to complete.
The data gathered from the completed surveys will provide insight into:
the pressing mental health concerns of legal professionals;
the support they can expect to receive from their workplaces;
how the wellbeing of lawyers and other stakeholders in the legal profession are affected by their work and working environments;
identifying problems that each might have faced in getting the help they needed; and
what law firms, bars and law societies should be doing to support those in distress.
The IBA Individual Lawyer Wellbeing Survey can be accessed here.
The IBA Institutional Wellbeing Survey is available here.
Data gathered from the surveys will be discussed in detail by the IBA’s Wellbeing Taskforce in a showcase session at the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference in November. The survey results will also be discussed on future KBA blog posts.
In the wake of COVID-19 and working from home, instances of phishing emails have been on the rise for the last several months. This new environment has essentially created the perfect storm—employees working from home, the need to stay updated on information, and IT is no longer just down the hall. As a result, phishing scams are capitalizing on the pandemic.
To protect yourself from falling victim to these scams, you must remain diligent in your cybersecurity. Having best practices in place—such as limiting the number of public-facing emails accounts, encouraging staff to forward all suspicious emails, and educating yourself and on staff how to spot phishing emails—can help.
In a previous post, Tips for Detecting a Phishing Email, I discussed ways to spot a phishing email. This includes looking for inconsistencies in the email, including inconsistencies in links, identifying demands for urgent action, and watching out for offers that seem to good to be true. If you missed this post, or just need a refresher, you should take a look.
For additional information on recent phishing scams and how to spot them, I also recommend reading:
The Internet is an increasingly important resource for many aspects of our daily lives, such as work, education, healthcare, and even recreation. The Internet is also how potential clients find lawyers. In fact, according a 2014 survey conducted by FindLaw.com, using the internet has become the most popular way to find and research a lawyer. Knowing this, have you thought about whether your website is accessible to those who may have visual, auditory or mobile impairment? If not, improving the accessibility of your firm’s website for individuals who are visually impaired, hearing impaired or those who must navigate by voice can be done in multiple ways. Here are just a few examples:
• Create alt tags for all images, videos and audio files. Alt tags allow users with disabilities to read or hear alternative descriptions of content they might not otherwise be able to view. Make sure your alt text is meaningful. It should describe the image in a concise phrase or sentence. If you have multiple similar images on page, for instance, be sure to describe them in a way that makes them distinguishable.
• Choose your colors carefully. Make sure the colors you select on your site contrast well to ensure that everyone can distinguish between various elements on the page. Contrast Checker is a free online tool you can use to check you color selection. Additionally, don’t use color as the only means of conveying information. The most common place to think about this? Hyperlinks. Simply making a hyperlink a different color may not distinguish the hyperlink from the other text. Consider underlining your hyperlinks, in addition to applying color.
• Create clear headers to structure your content and identify the site's language in the header code. Clear headers also help screen readers interpret your pages. Additionally, making it clear what language the site should be read in helps users who utilize text readers. Screen readers can identify those codes and function accordingly.
• Create a consistent and organized layout. Menus, links and call to action buttons should be organized in such a way that they are clearly defined from one another and are easy to navigate.
• Make sure your site is keyboard friendly. To improve accessibility be sure your website works without the use of a mouse. The most common way of navigating with the use of a keyboard is by the Tab key. There for, your goal should be to ensure that all web content and navigation can be accessed using Tab.
• Create text transcripts for video and audio content. Text transcripts help hearing-impaired users understand content that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
• Offer alternatives and suggestions when users encounter input errors. If a user with a disability is encountering input errors because of their need to navigate the website differently, your site should offer recommendations as to how visitors can better navigate to the content they need.
For additional information on how to make your website more accessible, look to the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines focus on making websites perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
Hopefully after last week’s post you took an opportunity to test drive Casemaker4. This week we take a deep dive into the upgraded platform.
The home page design is a little different, but still retains the elements you are probably familiar with. The changes to the home page, however, allow for quicker searching and browsing. Tabs to the navigation bar have been added where you can easily access to items such the Case Digest and Citecheck. The libraries menu can also be found in the navigation bar. You can easily access the various libraries offered, such as state materials, federal materials tribal courts and our archive from this location. The navigation bar is always present no matter where you are in Casemaker4. At any time, you can browse to another page quickly.
Casemaker 4 now has currency directly on the libraries pages. In addition, if you ever need to know just how broad Casemaker’s currency is, you can now access that information by clicking any of the view currency links that have been added to the bread crumb as well as the libraries menu. Speaking of breadcrumb, based on customer feedback, Casemaker realized users wanted a way to more easily access the information in their browsing path. Now with an enhanced breadcrumb feature, you can easily click to any point in your path and go back to it without starting over. You will see this along the top of the browsing area as you navigate the system.
The Search Bar has been improved as well. You can still perform searches from the homepage by putting in your search criteria and then choosing the jurisdiction and compilation you wish to search. Search tips, advanced search, and recent searches, however, can all be accessed with just a click. The search bar also now offers a type-ahead feature. You can begin to type a citation, party name or keyword and Casemaker will offer suggestions based on what you are typing. The search bar is always with you and it knows where you are in the content. For example, if you are in a state’s admin code, and perform a search, Casemaker will automatically search within the admin code for your query without having to select it from the Jurisdictions and Compilations menu.
The search results page gives you access to even more information. The Citing References graph is now visible directly from the search page so you can more easily how a case has been cited over time. More options to narrow your search have also been added. You can even choose to include or remove unpublished opinions. As always you can narrow by Jurisdiction, Court, Date and with a keyword.
In the settings section of the My Account menu, to the left of the navigation bar, you can configure Casemaker 4 to your own preferences. For instance, you can set the max results that are shown per result page, set the court level sorting, show the notes you have created as well as totally disregard unpublished cases when you perform searches.
In Casemaker 4, you can now open multiple documents in different tabs. Next, to the title of a document, you will see an icon with an arrow, click on this to open this document in a new tab. Casemaker has also made parallel citations much easier to find. They are now color-coded to particular reporters and can be seen at the top of the case as well as throughout the document.
The notes section has been upgraded as well. From the notes section of the My Accounts page, you can now access all your notes in one place. The notes can be set to be displayed on the documents where they were created or hidden if you prefer. You can see the documents you have added notes to, as well as the note that you added, and edit those notes, all from the notes page.
Lastly, Casemaker 4 now offers a brand-new feature to its users, The Alert System. Our Alert System allows users to set up an email alert for a search query, or document. A search alert will send a notification when a new document meets the criteria of that query. The tracking alert will notify you when a document is updated or cited. This feature comes in handy if you would like to monitor any statutes and wish to see if they are modified, updated or used in any other cases. Similar to Case Digest, you can view your alerts in your email, or have it set in your alerts section on Casemaker4. You can set up these alerts from the navigation bar, as well as from the search results or document pages.
Still uncertain? Web-based training is available! You can click the webinar link in the upper right of the Casemaker4 system. Training videos are available at the Video link as well.