7 Technology Mistakes Law Firms Make

In the legal world, we live on deadlines. In our rush to accomplish those goals for our clients, we sometimes take shortcuts. Here are a few shortcuts, especially in technology, that can cost you in the long run and ultimately hurt your practice.

  1. Poor Software Licensing Practices
  2. Software licensing usually comes in two ways – per site and per seat. Per site means that you are permitted to install your software on all machines in your firm. Per seat means that you are only allowed to install your software on the number of users purchased from the software company. A hybrid model allows for a certain number of licenses with each business software package purchased. Unfortunately, some firms have received harsh monetary penalties for violating licensing agreements by installing multiple copies when the licenses provided for a single user. It is important to review your End User Licensing Agreement to make sure you are compliant.

  3. Hardware
  4. Buying hardware is much like buying a car. It is best to put your dollars in power and speed. By focusing on processor speed, RAM and hard drive space, you will have equipment that runs efficiently and handle updates without slowing down your network. Unsure about how to spec or size your PC, a reputable managed service provider like Optimum Networking can help.

  5. Not Embracing Cloud-Based Solutions
  6. There are many cloud-based solutions for law firms. For litigation, there are programs for e-discovery and practice management. For corporate and transactional practices, there are programs for document assembly and collaboration. By utilizing cloud-based programs, law firms can reduce or even eliminate the expenses associated with file servers. Before selecting a cloud-based solution, make sure the software company provides SSL and/or AES encryption for your data. They should also provide backup services for your cloud-based data.

  7. Faulty Email Security Policies
  8. Most law firms put disclaimers on email to protect clients, however, they fail to have basic policies to protect against threats such as email viruses and malware. There are great solutions to secure email and protect against phishing scams and other online threats.

  9. Not Implementing Cybersecurity
  10. In today’s world, law firms can be targets of hackers and ransomware. To help reduce your risk, use cloud-based technology for data storage that provides encryption. Make sure your IT support company provides managed network security service as well. You can also implement password security policies in your office. Recently, a large law firm was down for over a week because they were victims of ransomware. Believe it or not, most data breaches are caused by human error such as having a password written on a piece of paper or not locking a workstation when away from your desk.

  11. Not Utilizing Website Security
  12. Unfortunately, websites are not immune to exploitation. There are a couple of easy ways to keep your website safe – investing in website security or monitoring software and installing website updates. Hackers often exploit a vulnerability that could have been corrected with the latest update. You will want to check with your IT person to verify the correct updates are installed.

  13. Not Seeking Professional IT Help
  14. When your network goes down, who do you call? By building a relationship with an IT managed services company, you can focus on helping your clients while your IT managed service provider helps you. It will save you time and money and allow you to focus on your client, not technology woes.

Gina Ventola is the Practice Manager for Ventola Law. She has worked in the legal technology field for over twenty years and was previously the Technology Services Manager for an international law firm.

Managed IT Security Services for SMB’s using VPNs with Multi-Factor Authentication

Work patterns for accessing data have changed over the years. In the past, employees would work from the office, and most of the data needed were housed right there. Today, many companies have their data and applications hosted outside of their office in a data center or cloud environment. Also, many people work from home or while traveling. In either case, securely connecting to your data is more of a challenge today than it was in the past. There are technologies for connecting and accessing data securely, and these technologies are constantly advancing. A knowledgeable Denver managed IT security services provider like Optimum Networking can help you sort this out.

Managed IT Security with VPN Technology

Most modern methods of connectivity incorporate a VPN technology. VPN is an acronym for “virtual private network.” A VPN is a technology that allows a user to connect to a system or network and have the data that is transferred and received, encrypted. VPN’s are typically used when accessing your data over the Internet or public networks. VPN’s encrypt data during transmission so that if the data stream were “tapped” into by an unauthorized person, the data would be scrambled to the point that it could not be reassembled. This protects the end user from unauthorized people reading or collecting your data. A VPN can be a part of a managed IT security service, however, encryption should only be considered as part of a secure VPN solution

Managed IT Security with Security Authentication

The second part of this communication is the authentication that is required to log into your remote resource. Many users rely on Active Directory credentials. This is your Microsoft username and password. There are several issues with just using your Microsoft credentials. First, some users don’t have a complex password which makes it easy to guess. Many users don’t change their password frequently which can mean that if the password gets compromised, a hacker can continue to use the username and password for a long period of time.

Managed IT Security with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

If your password is complex and changed often, the chances of being hacked are significantly reduced. However, the only thing stopping a hacker from logging in is still just a username and password. For significantly enhanced login security, multi-factor authentication should be implemented. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the notion that a user has multiple items necessary to be authorized to log in. This could be something that you know, and something that you have. Something that you know could be your username and password. Something that you have could be a unique token that is generated each time you log in and is displayed on a fob in your possession or on your smart phone. There are several technologies that issue these tokens or “certs.” Guessing your username, password, and a randomly generated token would be nearly impossible for a hacker.

Of course, multi-factor authentication has an added price, but the price outweighs the concerns and damage that can be done by an unauthorized user. A solid company policy for remote access should have several critical components. Encryption and multi-factor authentication are two components that are at the top of the list for today’s scary cyber-threat environment.

If you have any security questions or would like more information on how Optimum Networking, a Denver Managed IT Security Services Provider (MSP) can implement MFA for you, please contact us.

Security Awareness Training Program & Lunch and Learns

Optimum has a great security awareness training program and regularly scheduled lunch and learns with security as a focus. Contact us for a schedule and to register.

Tracy Huntzinger

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Do You Have The Right Safety Net For Ransomware?

As a Denver IT services company, we consistently get calls asking for more information about the latest ransomware attack. Some of these calls are from business owners who are seeking relief from an attack that has already occurred.

A Ransomware Attack Can Decimate Your Business

A recent ransomware attack was “Wanna Cry” which infected over 230,000 computers worldwide in 24 hours. There are multiple layers of protection that firms can implement to ward off this type of attack (and others). The sad truth is many small businesses aren’t prepared, and they get attacked by these ransomware viruses. When a ransomware attack happens, it can lock all your files and your entire business can be held hostage.

So what can you do if you are hit by ransomware? The truth is, if you are hit by Wanna Cry or another ransomware attack, your options are going to be limited.

Do You Pay The Ransom?

Paying the ransom demanded is often expensive AND there is absolutely NO guarantee that your data will be recoverable. After all, you are making a deal with a criminal. Even if you do recover the data, it may not be usable.

Ransomware and System Damage

Data recovery is just the tip of the iceberg. These kinds of malicious attacks can create system damage as well. There are literally thousands of processes that must operate perfectly for your applications to run properly. Most Denver IT Services companies will advise you to completely wipe all your systems, including your servers. This means deleting everything, even the operating system, down to the “bare metal.” Ouch.

The Real Safety Net Against Ransomware Is Data & System Backups

If your data is backed up and is accessible, you are only partially safe. The data can be reloaded onto your network, but, if you haven’t backed up your applications and your operating system image(s), someone must rebuild your servers from the ground up. The cost to do that will vary widely depending upon your environment, but rebuilding servers can easily cost thousands of dollars. And that doesn’t include the cost of your business being down during the process.

Are Your Data and Systems Protected?

If wiping down to the bare metal scares you, then you probably haven’t protected both data and systems. In the event of a ransomware attack, your backup systems and processes can save your business. Or not. If they aren’t in place or they are running incorrectly, it can cause your business to fail miserably. (Don’t wait till you are held hostage to learn if your backups are being handled properly. Call a Denver IT Services company sooner rather than later.)

The Advantages of Image-Based Backup

Image-based or “bare metal” backup replicates everything– files, operating systems, applications, and configurations. With this solution, your entire computing environment can be restored in hours versus days. The cost of restoring from an image-based backup is a fraction of the cost of rebuilding servers from the ground up and re-imaging your workstations

The Right Backup Solution

With the right Denver IT Services company, backups can be automated, managed, and affordable for SMB’s. With the correct solution in place, which includes data and system backup, you can be assured that your critical information and applications are safe.

Are you unsure of your business’ ability to survive a ransomware attack? Optimum Networking can assess your environment and make recommendations aligned with your specific business operations. Contact us to discuss your data security.

How Secure is Your Windows 10 Install?

It’s easy to poke fun at “12345” passwords and phish-y emails, but PC security is tough for the average user to manage. And if you’re a network admin, it’s even tougher to deal with security slipups that infect the whole network.

That’s where the new Windows Defender Security Center will come in handy. Debuting spring 2017 as part of the Creators Update, it’s an efficient suite of security features that’ll help users avoid hacking, malware, and other threats. You can view and control your security protections—the applications running in the background that most users don’t often think about—all in one place.

It’s simple, really: The Defender Security Center is a dashboard where users can get a full security overview of their system. And if a problem is discovered, the security center makes it easy to solve it. The Center is also a place to customize security across what Microsoft has deemed “the five pillars of protection”:

Virus and threat protection allows you to view your anti-malware app, whether you’ve chosen to use the Windows Defender Antivirus app that comes with Windows 10 or a third-party app. If you’ve chosen the Windows Defender Antivirus app for your network, you can scan results directly on the screen. (A third party app will just appear on your screen and you can launch it from there.)

Device performance and health displays your latest Windows updates, battery life, storage capacity, and drivers. This is also where you can access the “Refresh Windows” feature, which helps you do a clean install while saving your files and settings.

Firewall and network protection gives you information on network connections and firewall settings, helping you find network issues and troubleshoot them.

App and browser control lets you adjust your SmartScreen settings and tips you off to possible malicious sites and downloads, as well as unrecognized internet apps and files.

Family options is a consumer feature. According to Microsoft, you can also view the health and safety of your personal devices from this centralized location,1 which helps make all your PCs running Windows 10 more secure and manageable.

How can Defender Security Center help your business?

It’s a security tool that can be especially handy for remote workers who have to troubleshoot their devices without hands-on support. And by making it easier for the average user to secure their devices on a day-to-day basis, you’re saving your IT staff time and money—not to mention catching small problems before they become big ones.

Excited about checking out the Defender Security Center (and the entire Creators Update)? This spring you can give it a try on the HP EliteBook x360, the world’s thinnest and most secure business convertible2, and the HP Elite x3, the world’s first built for business 3-in-1 device.3 The HP Elite series—enhanced with HP Sure Start Gen34 and HP WorkWise5 protection—also supports other Windows 10 security features, such as Windows Hello and the monthly Windows Update, that work together to make sure your device security is up-to-date.

8 Tips to Turn You into a Wi-Fi Power User

Having difficulty with your Wi-Fi? Maybe your speeds are slow or you’re having trouble with the connection dropping. Here are eight tips for improving your Wi-Fi, to be better, stronger, faster!

1. Put your Wi-Fi router in the best place

Don’t put it behind large objects or inside of a cabinet. Don’t put them next to brick walls or metal, which can interfere with the signal. Put it out in the open, hopefully with direct line-of-sight to other devices. If your router is right next to a device, consider an Ethernet cable connection.

2. Switch to a stronger signal

If your devices are compatible – such as modern mobile phones and tablets – switch them to 802.11n or 802.11ac, to ensure stronger signal and faster speeds. (What’s the difference? How much faster is 802.11ac?)

3. Keep your Wi-Fi strongly secured

Configure your Wi-Fi so that unauthorized users can’t hijack it and slow down your speeds. Add WPA2 security to your network – and strong passwords!

4. Use quality-of-service (QoS) to limit bandwidth for certain apps

Dedicate the greatest speeds to the apps and services you need the most. Not sure how to change QoS on your router? Because there are so many brands and thousands of models, google what you have. Try this more detailed overview as well.

5. For large areas – buy a Wi-Fi repeater

This can extend the range of your Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi repeaters, extenders, and boosters are all roughly the same thing, and you can research what is best for your situation

6. Switch to the 2.4HGz band to prevent a wide broadcast

Most modern routers have two frequency band settings – they are called “dual band” – which are 2.4GHz and 5GHz. 2.4GHz is for long-range signal, and 5GHz is for short-range signal. Switching to the 5GZz band can limit the people who can access your network without authorization (and pair this with locking down your network).

7. Shell out for the more expensive advanced router

Newer models offer the best security features and the fastest speeds.

8. Upgrade your wireless adapters

Upgrading your router to 802.11n or 802.11ac may increase your Wi-Fi performance, but also upgrade wireless adapters of devices to these newer standards to maximize your advantage. You can upgrade your computers with PCI, PCIe, or PC wireless cards, or USB wireless adapters. You may find that just one of these tips fixes your slow Wi-Fi woes – or that you need a combination of fixes – but speed is within your reach!

How to Add an Email Signature in Office 365 Mail

If you’re using both Office 365 Mail (Outlook.com) and Outlook on desktop, you’ll have noticed that saving your email signature in Outlook does not save it in Office 365 Mail. This can be frustrating if you’re sending email in your browser and your email signature is always missing.

You have to add your email signature in both places. Here’s how to create your Office 365 Mail email signature:

    1. In Office 365 Mail, click the gear icon in the upper right.
    2. In the menu that appears, scroll down to Your app settings and click Mail.
    3. The Options menu will appear on the left. Scroll down to Layout and click the second item, Email signature.
    4. If you want to automatically include your signature in outgoing messages and/or messages you forward or reply to, check or uncheck the two options.
    5. In the composer, enter your email signature. You can copy and paste a pre-made signature from Word or a webpage if you need to.If you want to create a table-based signature, click the down arrow button to the right of the composer buttons, and then click the Insert table. You can also find the Insert hyperlink, Undo, and Redo buttons under the “more” arrow.
      When you are done making your email signature, click the Save button at the top.

And that’s all there is to it! Just remember that if you update your email signature in Office 365 Mail, you’ll want to update it elsewhere (such as Outlook on desktop) too.

Note: If you are using Outlook Web App (OWA) instead of Office 365 Mail, you may notice discrepancies between these instructions and what you see on your screen. OWA and Office 365 Mail functionality has diverged in some cases and the user interfaces may appear different.

2016 the year of ransomware?

Ready for 2016: the year of ransomware?

It sounds easy: never negotiate with terrorists or other criminals. It’s not so simple, however, as the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center found out after its communications systems were held hostage by ransomware in February. It fought back for 10 days, but after staff at the 434-bed hospital were reduced to pen and paper, the hospital folded and paid about $17,000 to regain access to its system.

This is shaping up to be the year of ransomware—malicious software that locks up a computer or whole network until a ransom is paid.

As the Hollywood case shows, institutions are targets, but attacks on individuals are the norm. You’re more likely to see employee laptops taken out individually rather than find your whole network taken down. Hackers typically demand their ransoms in Bitcoin because it’s untraceable. The value of Bitcoins fluctuates like any currency. At the time of writing, a single Bitcoin is worth hundreds of dollars.

When it happens to you, it’s not a hostage crisis that law enforcement is going to help with. The FBI’s cybercrime chief, for one, told security experts at a conference, “To be honest, we often advise people just to pay the ransom.”

There’s no excuse for leaving yourself an open target, however.

  1. Maintain backups

Ransom Trojans aren’t difficult to remove—some of them even remove themselves. If you’ve got backups, then just remove the Trojan, recover the files from a backup, and hope the user at fault has learned a lesson.

  1. Keep software up to date

Some ransom Trojans target user carelessness—click this link, open this attachment. Others exploit holes in software. Patch your software, especially those from popular vendors. They’re the first ones hackers will probe for vulnerabilities because they have the most customers to hold hostage.

  1. Filter executables

Ransomware writers love to disguise a program as an invoice, an “urgent” document, or a notification that you’ve missed a delivery. These are often hidden in ZIP archives, so filter those (and executables in general).

  1. Show file extensions

Make it harder for the authors of ransomware to hide their intentions because you’ve allowed Windows to hide the file extension. If a file is really called “Invoice.doc.exe,” then you shouldn’t allow it to present itself to the user as “Invoice.doc.”

Forcing Windows to call an executable an executable gives your users at least a fighting chance.

  1. Restrict user privileges

One infected user can’t bring down another user if they don’t have access to their machines in the first place. Giving a machine access only to what it really needs makes it harder for your network to fall like a line of dominoes.

  1. Disable remote desktop protocol

Malware operators like to use Windows’ native remote access feature and third-party software to get malicious code onto computers in the first place.

Remote desktop protocol is phenomenally useful, but it doesn’t need to be switched on all the time.

Ransomware will undoubtedly grow, given that the profits from a piece of ransomware:

  •  Increase without marginal cost
  •  The rewards per machine are in the hundreds of dollars

Stay vigilant!  If you don’t know the sender and an attachment looks suspicious, contact the ROC.

What you need to know about Mobile Apps and security!

Mobile apps are amazing! There is no denying that. Countless are the Fruit Ninja and Clash of Clans fans who swear the games are the best thing since sliced bread! But your favorite gaming app may not be the safest for your phone and your personal information.

You are in control… Until you press the download button!

Every time you download an app, it will most likely ask for permission to access: phone networks, information on your device, your location and more. So far so good. Apps need to use your mobile networks to connect to the internet and deliver the service they promise. Depending on the app, they might need to access your location and other basic information. The conundrum starts when permissions are used for purposes users are completely oblivious to. It is common practice for some apps to transfer your personal information to 3rd parties without your consent
When it comes to applications downloaded from either the Apple store or the Android store, you are ultimately in control, as you make the decision to or not to press to download button. In the end, it is up to you to be vigilant when downloading apps. The best practice is to compare and contrast the app’s service and the permissions it asks for. For instance if a photo editing app demands access to:  your call history, your location, your microphone and more, that should be enough to raise a red flag! Look for discrepancies between the app’s description and the permissions it asks for.

social-personal

Be extra cautious when apps ask for permission to access phone applications that may contain sensitive information such as: historical info, device and app history, photos, identity, microphone and recordings, contact information, SMS/messages, location etc. In doubt, use the Privacy grade website to double check and see how your apps are rated . The website uses a grading system (on an A to D scale) that compares permissions required by a given app against your expectations of the app’s behavior and the actual usage made of the accessed files. Privacy Grade is one of many resources users have at their disposition to make informed decisions when downloading new apps. Apps like Gmail and Facebook received and A grade on privacygrade.org while the publicly acclaimed Fruit Ninja received a  D grade. This is not surprising given that most apps generate revenue by displaying ads using your personal information or by selling your data to advertising companies. In the world of free applications, there is no such a thing as a free lunch!

Don’t Just Keep Up with IT. Lead the Pack!

Maintaining your company’s IT environment may feel like running some twisted obstacle course. You are constantly dodging security threats, running towards the next solution, and jumping across the gaps in your IT department. While performance-enhancing supplements are forbidden in organized sports, your IT department’s performance will take all the help it can get.

Businesses that get caught up in the obstacles and can’t adapt soon find themselves fading away into obscurity. Forbes found that of the companies on the Fortune 1000 list ten years ago, seventy percent are no longer in business because they were unable to adapt. That’s right. 700 companies went the way of the dinosaur just because they weren’t able to keep up with changes going on around them.

You don’t have to run the gauntlet alone. When you utilize a managed service provider like Optimum, you have a team of trained professionals behind you that can help you source the right products and solutions so you’re never buying things you don’t need. We identify the solutions your business needs to propel forward.

lead-the-packOur warehouse inventory enables your business hit the market harder and faster, giving you the advantage over your competitors. We have your hardware ready on hand to keep up with your business’ growth. Never again will you have to wait for your managed service provider to keep up with you.

Need more direction to keep in shape? Optimum can fit your IT department with a Virtual CIO (Chief Technology Office). The VCIO will meet with you and your team on a regular basis to:

  • Keep your products and services suited for your business’ needs
  • Make sure technology is up to date
  • Keep technology solid and stable

All this and more is included with your Virtual CIO and the On-Care Premium Package.

Run circles around your competitors and leave them in the dust! Call Optimum Networking at 720-248-3580 to schedule an assessment today!

The Service Desk (R)evolution: Real People with Custom Solutions

 

When you talk to IT support, they are supposed to help you find a solution as quickly as possible, right? Unfortunately, most help desks have a milquetoast first response to your IT issues. After a while, you get tired of the same old, same old. The problem here is that many of the ‘first responder’ technicians are not trained well enough to be able to thoroughly address your problem, resulting in a transfer to yet another technician to attempt a solution. Optimum Networking is solving this problem by evolving and revolutionizing IT support.

So what are the ingredients of an IT revolution?

  • Our support technicians are experts in the industry – We only hire the best of the best professionals who have years of experience and have earned their ‘expert’ status.
  • We’re LOCAL – Our experts aren’t in another country. We’re right here in the USA.
  • No touch-tone menus – Immediately reach a real person who can give you the help you need.
  • We’re connected — Our Remote Operations Center features monitors on the wall with detailed information about your servers’ vitals.
    servicesWe pride ourselves on providing a truly dependable service desk. Choosing Optimum gives you unlimited access to our growing expert team of IT professionals and engineers—an incomparable knowledge base that you simply can’t get with a single IT person. Optimum technicians are always ready to help when you experience unexpected downtime. We deliver a comprehensive menu of the quality resources, tools, and expertise to get you back up and running quickly and efficiently. By choosing Optimum, all of your services are made to order! You will be getting a custom designed and sized server or storage device, in addition to an expert team dedicated exclusively to you and your specific IT needs, infrastructure, and preferences. Optimum focuses on IBM hardware for servers and storage, including V3700 storage area networks. We have installed countless numbers of these systems and have vast experience with many of their product lines.By properly setting up your networking solution, we’ll prevent as many problems as possible. If a problem comes up, it won’t be a problem for long. Rest assured, we’re here to help.Get cooking with the custom IT support you need from Optimum Networking. Call 720-248-3580 to schedule a free evaluation.