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Scam Alert: Office Supply Scams

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission released a video to educate businesses about office supply scams.

In an office supply scam, a scammer sends office supplies to a business hoping they pay the invoice without anyone noticing that no one ordered the supplies. Sometimes the scammer doesn’t send anything at all but an invoice in hopes it will be paid. Small businesses are often the target of this scam.

To learn how to avoid office supply scams, watch the FTC video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/xMPnvLYpeZo.

Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  FTC  office supply scam  small business scam 

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Searching for Cases with Citation in Casemaker

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The most frequently used function of Casemaker for most users is searching by citation. From the home page, you can simply type in your citation. You do not have to worry about being too picky; if you use the wrong spacing, punctuation, or capitalization, Casemaker will automatically correct that for you.

You do, however, need to make sure you are using only the reporter citation and the proper abbreviation. Casemaker goes by Blue Book citation guidelines, if you have any questions regarding abbreviations. For example, with Kearns v. Ford Motor Co., 567 F.3d 1120 (9th Cir. 2009), all you would put in the search bar is 567 F.3d 1120. Be sure you select the correct jurisdiction, however—you will not be able to pull up a New Hampshire Superior Court case when searching in U.S. Court of Appeals!

Sometimes a particular citation brings up more than one result—and there is a very good reason for this. The other case share a page with the case you were searching for. For example, your case may end on page 104 and another case begins on the same page of the reporter. This means, even if you are typing in a pin cite, you will still be able to locate the case you are looking for.

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  Casemaker  citation  research  Weekly20190430 

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Microsoft Word Quick Tip – Watermarks

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Click image to view PDF

 

Did you know that you can add a watermark to your word documents in just a few simple steps?  Microsoft Word has a few built-in watermarks that you may find useful in your practice. For instance, you will find watermarks to label a document as a draft version or confidential.  Additionally, you can create your own custom watermarks for your documents.  Here’s how you insert a watermark:

  1. Click the Design tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Watermark.
  3. Click your selected watermark.

As you can see this is super easy.  Here is how you create your own custom watermark:

  1. Click the Design tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Watermark.
  3. Click Custom Watermark.
  4. You can choose to insert a Picture watermark or Text watermark.
  5. For a picture watermark, select Picture.
    • Click Select Picture.
    • Select your picture of choice and then click Insert.
    • Click Apply.
    • Click Close.
  6. For a text watermark, select Text.
    • Type your text in the Text box.
    • Set your Font, Size, and Color.
    • Click Apply.
    • Click Close.

If you discover that your watermark is only appearing the on the first page, then I suggest you check your Header settings under the Insert Tab.  If you are using a combination of headers on pages and a watermark, you will need to apply the watermark differently than above.  For instructions on how to do this or trouble shoot watermark issues click here for additional information.

Download File (PDF)

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  law practice management  legal writing resources  MS Word  watermarks  Weekly20190423 

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Budgeting, Saving, and Investing Apps

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Monday, April 15, 2019

Questionable financial decisions by lawyers in their practices continue to pop up as a regular theme in ethics cases. While the misuse of client money is the violation that leads to discipline, a deeper dive into most of the cases indicates that financial problems for a firm often began as financial problems in the lawyer’s personal life. Learning how to budget, save and invest wisely in our personal lives is a skill set that very often translates directly into our professional lives.

Additionally, almost every lawyer has an experience with a client, a colleague or a close friend where conversation on budgeting can be crucial. For example, I observed expungement hearings in 2018, and the petitioner in every hearing had sought relief from the filing fees for financial hardship. Amazingly, not one single petitioner knew their income or expenses on a monthly basis. The lawyers who had helped them with the expungement pleadings had apparently overlooked the budget component of the petitions they had helped to prepare.

The widespread presence of smart phones has put powerful budgeting, savings and investing tools close at hand, and younger users especially are drawn to tools that can turn everyday acts into opportunities to adapt habits, save money and invest for the future. The following apps are just a few of the options available.

Albert

“Albert analyzes all of your financial accounts and builds a unique plan based on your income, spending habits, and goals.” After downloading the app and connecting your financial accounts, the app assists in establishing a budget, savings and investing goals. As the app observes income and spending habits, the artificial intelligence back-end starts to recommend areas to save and can even scrape extra funds into an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing account. The app also provides spending alerts to warn when money is getting tight or flag expenses that are higher than normal. Users note significantly improved odds of maintaining a budget using the app and often credit the app to unexpected growth in their savings account. The app is free, but an optional monthly subscription to a financial help line service (Albert Genius) for $4-6 per month supports the product.

Acorns

Acorns is, “The only micro-investing account that allows you to invest spare change.” Once the app is connected to a credit card, any payment you make may be automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar. The round-up portion is then scraped into an investment portfolio with five different risk ratings ranging from conservative to aggressive (though all investment portfolios are considered fairly conservative by experts). Acorn also pairs with certain partners like Lyft, Hilton, Expedia, or Airbnb which boost your investment by discounting their service and applying the discount to the round-up amount. The basic service is $1 per month making its fees quite low compared to other investment options.

Clarity Money

Clarity bills itself as your financial champion, both to help you see where your money is coming and going (basic budgeting), and to find areas you could cut or scale back. The initial marquee feature of Clarity was a focus on recognizing recurring expenses and streamlining the process to cancel unwanted subscriptions. For example, it could observe your monthly payment to Audible and make canceling a one-click experience if you decide your use does not justify the expense. It has subsequently evolved into a more general budget and micro-savings platform. There is no fee for the basic service and reviews indicate Clarity has a higher-than-average support response for users.

Spendee

Spendee is a comprehensive budgeting and personal accounting application. Paying the annual premium subscription price of $22.99 per year provides shared access with other users so everyone can be on the same page. Additionally, special budgets can be set up for one-off events like weddings, a vacation, car purchase, etc. Automatic linking with a bank is an option but, unlike many other apps, so is manual entry if you are the more hands-on, paranoid type.

Honey

Honey is a free browser extension that pays attention to your online shopping. As you browse Amazon or Nike and fill your cart, Honey works in the background to find every available promotional code it can apply. If there are multiple promotional codes, it applies the one that provides the biggest savings. Some vendors like Marriott, BestBuy, and Expedia have Honey-specific discounts as well. The extension is free to install and requires no subscription.

Warnings and Caveats

  1. Neither I nor the KBA are recommending specific apps or services. Those listed above represent some of the most-reviewed and best known, but this is simply one offering among a host of similar products. If micro-savings appeals to you, study up on a variety of options before simply choosing one like Albert.
  2. This is your money so be cautious. Do your due diligence on any service or app you decide to connect to your accounts and monitor it regularly. Prepare ahead so you know how to respond if you want to terminate a service or if you have reason to believe an account has been compromised.
  3. As with any free service (and many paid services), you are often the product. Your habits and behaviors are often compiled, analyzed, and sold to buyers trying to figure out how to reach out to you and people like you. Understand the terms of service before you agree.

Originally published in the April 2019 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association.

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Tags:  apps  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman  budgeting  investing  saving  Weekly20190416 

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Book Review—The Carrot Principle

Posted By Danielle M. Atchison, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick is a focused look at how to manage and retain employees in your office. The authors build the case that employees are not traditionally loyal—citing a Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) study which said 3 out of 4 employees are looking for a new job and go on to explain how to retain workers through regular recognition of their hard work and effort. The book goes on to say that for recognition to be effective in retaining employees, it must be frequent, specific, and timely. Additionally, the recognition should give value to the worker, have an impact on their work, and be personal to them. Law firm owners often forget they are running a business with the same employee retention and profitability goals as “regular” businesses. We become busy with clients and deadlines and make up excuses as to why we will wait to give praise for an employee’s good deed. Or, some managers withhold giving recognition because the worker is “simply doing their job”. This attitude doesn’t work in today’s management climate. Workers have other options for employment, often other jobs with your competitors. It is important that we start recognizing the efforts of people working for us so our businesses can continue to thrive. The Carrot Principle teaches the reader how to integrate recognition with our daily routine in order to retain the talent we’ve worked so hard to train!

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Atchison  book review  law practice management  retaining employee talents 

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Casemaker Tip - Using History

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

 

The History Link in the upper right will provide you with a complete history of all the searches you’ve created and documents you’ve viewed since logging into the Casemaker system. Each item in the History comes complete with a date and time stamp, as well as a client label, if you performed the search while logged in to a client.

So if you spent Friday evening searching for a particular statute and forgot to save it to a folder, you don’t need to worry! Just click your history to find it again without the hassle. The date and time stamps will help you be able to navigate which of these descriptions is the right one.

With permission from Khristina Williams, Casemaker Support and Marketing Manager

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Tags:  Author: Casemaker  Casemaker 

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Paperless Offices Work!

Posted By Danielle M. Atchison, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
I am an attorney at Mdivani Corporate Immigration Law Firm. Our firm has been paperless since before I joined in 2013. We also recently moved our systems and storage to the cloud. These two uses of technology are imperative to our firm’s function and efficiency. All case notes, legal research, correspondence, filings, notices, etc. are stored electronically. This means any attorney can immediately access all information related to a case whether in office or working remotely.

 

I’ve found our paperless system to be extremely useful and impressive to our clients. When clients call and have a “quick question” about a case we finished several years ago, we can almost always answer their question while on the phone with the client. This efficiency cuts down on necessary follow-up phone calls and emails. It also allows us to knock out seemingly large projects fairly simply. Most importantly, creating the physical set-up and habit of scanning and sending every detail of a case ensures we are compliant with one of the most prevalent lawyer disciplinary issues: communication.  

How do you do this?

  • The first step is to buy a really, really good scanner.
  • The second step is to develop the habit of scanning anything entering or leaving the office. Immigration law is still a bit archaic in that we are required to file paper-based petitions and applications with immigration (for the most part), so we have to develop paper files to be sent to immigration. We scan those in the day of filing and send a copy to the client. The government also corresponds with us via paper, so notices from the government are also scanned in and emailed to the client the day we receive them.
  • The third step—and hardest—is following your own rules to stay paperless—actually follow through and make sure your employees do as well.

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Atchison  LPM tip  paperless  scanning  Weekly20190326 

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KBA LPM Lending Library – Book Spotlight

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Grit, The Secret to Advancement: Stories of Successful Women Lawyers

This is not only a book but also a program and toolkit from the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. 

Toolkit information can be found at:  https://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/women/

Book is available for check out at the KBA and available for purchase at: https://www.americanbar.org/products/inv/book/288356743/  

ABA Commission on Women in the Profession started several years ago and began research on what makes women lawyers successful. Grit and growth mindset were two traits that have been shown to impact the success of women lawyers. The Commission has now expanded its research from large law firms to encompass other legal environments including solo practice, small and medium law firms, corporations, government, and nonprofits. This a book of over 45 women sharing their inspiring stories of grit from many varied legal environments.

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Tags:  Author: Angel R. Zimmerman  book  Law Practice Management  Lending Library  LPM  toolkit 

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Microsoft Word Quick Tip – Uncheck Ignore Words in UPPERCASE

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Click image to enlarge.

Have you ever noticed that the default setting in Microsoft Word is to ignore words in uppercase? As a result, the correct spelling functionality will ignore anything in uppercase such as headings and titles. There is a way, however, to change this setting. Here is how you do it:

  • Under the File tab, click Options.
  • Click Proofing.
  • Under “When correcting spelling in Microsoft Office programs,” uncheck Ignore words in UPPERCASE.
  • Click OK to save.

Once you have saved this change in your settings, anything you type in all uppercase will now get spell checked!

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Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  Microsoft  Microsoft Word  spell check 

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E-Filing: Adding a Physical Signature Page to a Proposed Order

Posted By Jacob E. Peterson, Monday, February 25, 2019

E-filing is great.  It allows us to file documents anytime, anywhere.  What it's not great for is filing proposed orders with physical signatures.  That is because proposed orders must be filed in a word processing format, while scanned, physical signature pages aren't compatible with that type of a file.  But why do we need to worry about this issue?  We generally use our electronic signatures (i.e., "/s/ Richard Whitman"), after all.  

Nevertheless, there are still a few instances where filing a proposed order with a physical signature is helpful: 

-        When you are dealing with pro se parties, and you don't want them to later claim that they didn't sign off on an order; 

-        When you're incorporating settlement agreements into a proposed order, as in a friendly settlement with a minor plaintiff; or

-        When the judge physically signs a proposed order, such as a docket call.

Adding a physical signature page to a proposed order isn't difficult, but it does take a few steps.  The following directions will allow you to add a physical signature page in Microsoft Word.

1.     Scan the signature page (or other pages) that you would like to incorporate into the proposed order.

2.     A) Save it as an image file (e.g., .jpg). 

B) Alternatively, you can use Windows’ “snipping tool,” to take a screenshot of the document and save it as an image file.  (Press the widows key + “s,” and search for “snipping tool.”)

3.     Go to your proposed order. 

4.     Find the location in your document where you'd like to incorporate the signature page. 

5.     Select the “insert” tab at the top of the screen.

6.     Select “pictures.”  Find the location of the signature page on your computer or server.  Select the picture, then select "insert."

Now you have the signature in the document, but it may not be centered, may be too small, or may have fouled up some text in the document. There are a variety of ways you can remedy those problems, but the following additional steps should fix them:

7.     Move the image in front of the text by:

A) Selecting the picture;

B) Selecting “format” at the top of the screen;

C) Selecting “wrap text”; and

D) Then selecting “In front of text”;

8.     Center the image by dragging the image around the page; and

9.     Resize the image to your liking by dragging on the corners of the image.

By playing with those settings, you can obtain a centered, properly sized, physical signature page within your document.  And, you'll be able to submit your proposed order with the physical signature, as desired.

Tags:  Author: Jacob E. Peterson 

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Quick Tip: Great Resources for Cleaning Up Your Legal Writing

Posted By Angel R. Zimmerman, Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Are you looking for resources to improve your legal writing?  Here are two resources that may be helpful:

Tags:  Author: Angel R. Zimmerman  Bryan Garner  legal writing resources 

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Case Management Software — Where to Begin?

Posted By Danielle M. Hall, Monday, February 11, 2019

By , Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator

Interested in case management software, but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of products out there. There are, however, resources available that can help you narrow down your choices.

For instance, the American Bar Association has a comparison chart available on its website. This chart is created by the association’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC), and it is available to both members and non-members. It lists many of the case management software options available and does some of the homework for you by comparing the features offered and price, for instance, as well as offering other useful information. This comparison chart can be found here.

In addition to the LTRC’s comparison chart, the KBA also has a variety of partnerships with different software companies. So be sure to check out the KBA membership benefits page, as you may be able to get a discount on certain products through your membership.

Lastly, make sure you take a good look at the product. Ask if there is a trial period or if you can have access to a dummy account so you can test the program and its features. Also, make sure you are asking the right questions specific to your needs and doing your due diligence when it comes to security concerns.

Stayed tuned to this blog for more information about what questions to ask and what issues to consider when choosing software.

Tags:  Author: Danielle M. Hall  case management  case management software 

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Review the Courts — and Judges and Lawyers Online

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Zoom in on survey question and Dissatisfied circled in red pencil

Online Reviews: The Courts

When I wrote about user reviews of courts and judges available on Yelp back in 2016, there were barely a handful of courts with reviews on the site. Since publication of that article, Google reviews have provided stiff competition for Yelp. Any time someone searches for a business or government office on Google, their Google reviews are prominently displayed in a call-out box to the right of search results. Realizing that this simplified obtaining and leaving reviews, I turned to Google reviews to see how our courts in Kansas rate with users.

The Dataset

I searched for every district court in the state together with the Supreme Court, the court of appeals, and the judicial branch generically at the end of November 2018 and created a spreadsheet of the data. Within those searches were 172 total reviews left about 55 of our courts—and 31 of those courts received at least one review in 2018. Instead of just a few outlier courts with a Yelp review page, we now have some data from just over 50 percent of our district courts with most of the reviews left in the past two years.

This is still a modest dataset, and it is important to note that 24 of the courts reviewed have just one review. I anticipated that a user taking the time to leave a review would most likely be an upset customer. That does not appear to be the case. While seven of these reviewers left a 1-star review, 11 left a 5-star review. Johnson county is at the other end of the spectrum with 28 reviews. While it is the largest county by population in Kansas, it is not the largest court by case filings. That would be Sedgwick county and it only pulled 13 reviews. Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Shawnee round out the top five most reviewed courts with 14, 11 and 8 respectively.

Unhelpful Reviews

The subject of a court review is often not narrowly focused on judicial branch performance. For example, several of the Leavenworth reviews were related to racist remarks of a county commissioner whose story was blowing up nationally around the time I compiled results. Politics played a role in one of the Supreme Court’s 1-star reviews, which was also left with a comment, “Liberal idiots!” Multi-use county courthouses received several reviews about how county offices processed tags and titles and many reviews contain no content at all. Other reviews aim for humor: a 1-star in Sherman just says, “It’s a courthouse,” and the Supreme Court’s other 1-star review laments, “I didn’t win.” None of those are helpful.

illustration with gears and text saying Feedback

Critiques and Compliments

Not all of the reviews should be tossed aside, however. The most common complaint across the counties is particularly interesting. A 1-star review very often relates to inaccessibility of court staff by phone. Phones are not answered. Messages are not returned. Staff cannot provide relevant information when a call is answered. The Supreme Court is attempting to address those types of complaints through the eCourt initiative which aims to centralize data, publish more information online and explore options for a call-in help center.

The most common compliments accompanying positive reviews related to helpful, friendly and polite staff. One reviewer shared that court staff went out of their way to assist her and her family. One reviewer in Harper county wanted the internet to know that Debbie, in particular, was friendly and helpful. Words like professional, polite, courteous and helpful were repeated across positive reviews and seem to display what the public’s expectation is from interactions with court staff. A court with an isolated comment about staff not rising to these expectations may be able to chalk it up to a bad day or outcome for the reviewer, but if negative reviews about staff interactions with the public are consistent, it should prompt some managerial introspection.

There are very few reviews that relate to judges themselves. Two negative reviews addressed concerns with courtroom demeanor. One judge allegedly rolled her eyes and suggested she could make matters worse for the reviewer who appears to have been challenging a ticket. The other review gave a 1-star to the judge for refusing to read evidence. Two other reviews dealt more generally with how rushed the court proceedings were, denying the reviewer opportunity to ask questions or understand what was going on in the proceeding, and one was quite upset with a 60-day sentence for public urination. That is as specific as judge reviews get in the data. Reviewers leaving positive comments seem less likely to leave details beyond saying their cases worked out. n

Free Advice

Google reviews are not perfect. They can be gamed and are often unfair with reviewers cherry-picking or making up narratives for personal aims. I am not a fan, and that is not just because I have a lousy 3-star average rating myself. Regardless, the reviews are a comment card, and it is worth reading them regularly. We read all of ours as a firm and explore the complaints (and compliments) to see where we can improve. Reviews offer a chance for courts and the judicial branch to do the same and it does not cost a dime.

Original Journal Article

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Tags:  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman  feedback  Law Practice Management  online reviews 

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How to be Notified via Email About New Blog Posts

Posted By Ryan Purcell, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Note: Most KBA blogs don't require you to be logged in to view a post—except any paid groups (i.e. Sections). But to subscribe or unsubscribe, you must be logged into your KBA account.

To be notified by email about a new KBA blog post (e.g.: this "blog," Law Practice Management Tips), from any blog, click the red "Subscribe" button at the top of the page.

Once you're subscribed to this blog or any other blog, you'll be notified via email about any new posts as they are posted. This applies to Appellate Court Digests, The Journal, The Advocate, Law Wise, or any Section you are a member of and their blog you choose to follow.

 

To Unsubscribe from Any Blogs

Note: You still must be logged in to unsubscribe.

Go to your "Blog Subscriptions" and click the red "X" next to the blog and you're unsubscribed.

To get to your "Blog Subscriptions", there are two ways:

  • Option 1: From any blog, whether you subscribe to it or not, the top of the page will say "Manage Subscriptions" — click that link
  • Option 2: Once you log in...
  1. a. Click your profile picture at the top and it will open a drop-down menu.
    b. Click Account + Settings.
  2. At the left, click "Information & Settings"
  3. On the right at the top, click "Blog Subscriptions".

    From there, you can unsubscribe from any blog you are subscribed to.

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Tags:  Author: Ryan Purcell  email  KBA Tech Tip  notification 

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Malware: Not the Same as a Virus

Posted By Jacob E. Peterson, Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Installing “anti-virus” software is obviously a must these days. Most people are familiar with the big names out there: McAffee, Kaspersky, AVG, Symantec, etc. And those tools are great for detecting and preventing your computer from traditional forms of malicious programs that use a computer to replicate and spread.

However, “malware,” is not synonymous with “viruses.” Malware can include all kinds of programs that aren’t necessarily meant to spread beyond your system, and can include “spyware” (i.e.: a program that tracks what you’re doing), “ransomware” (i.e. a program that renders your files unreadable and literally holds them ransom), “adware” (i.e., a program that forces you to view unwanted ads), and “cryptomining” malware that hijack your computer to “mine” cryptocurrency like bitcoin (i.e.: run the verification calculations to make money with bitcoin).

The first defense against malware is to avoid clicking on strange links, visiting strange sites or downloading strange files. However, anti-malware software is necessary, as well. There are free versions available that provide decent additional protection, such as “Malware Bytes.” Many of those types of software offer paid, premium versions that run scans automatically on a daily basis for a reasonable fee, and even have additional products that can provide some mitigation against firm-halting events such as a ransomware attack.

Tags:  Author: Jacob E. Peterson  Malware  Virus 

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