Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly Q&A column, where a panel of experts answers your questions about using technology in your law practice.
This month we answer readers’ questions about how to protect against ransomware (beyond antivirus software) and whether it is worth the time to maintain a blog.
Q: In today’s market, is it worth the time to maintain a blog?
A: That depends on the answer to one question: Do you enjoy writing? When it comes to marketing (especially in the social media realm), unless you enjoy something, it won’t come out well. That said, if you do enjoy writing, blogging has a lot of advantages. First and foremost, blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. The more you demonstrate knowledge, the more people believe you have it. Second, blogging is a great way to attract clients by offering free advice. If clients are dealing with issues and come across your blog and get valuable help from it, who are they going to turn to when they want to hire someone? Last but not least, blogging can really boost your visibility in Google searches. As many of you may have noticed, Google is working harder and harder to be the answer machine for all of life’s questions. When you type a question into Google, the top hits now are usually not links to other websites; they are Google displays of text from other websites. Blogging is a great way to show up in these results. If you are answering all the frequently asked questions of your potential clients, then there is a good chance that the first thing potential clients will see when they search for help is your answer and a link to your website.
Techie: Jordan L. Couch, GPSolo eReport Contributing Technology Editor, Palace Law, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I read in the news that more and more law firms are falling prey to ransomware. What else can I do to protect my firm beyond using antivirus software?
A: Everyone touts user education. That’s important. In addition, you can install free, ransomware-specific protection on your Windows or Mac computer.
Obviously, people shouldn’t open e-mail attachments that they are not expecting. Attachments are far and away the biggest source of ransomware exploits. Still, hackers trick you by posing as someone you know. Their alarming or disarmingly bland justifications cause people to click when they shouldn’t.
Remain aware (and keep reinforcing to other members of your firm) that cybercriminals are bombarding us with infected e-mail attachments, and that they can fake the names of people and companies you know. But beyond that, you need multiple layers of defenses.
First of all, you need a modern antivirus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware product on every computer and device. Webroot and BitDefender are two that are highly effective against brand-new “zero day” threats.
No antivirus product has achieved perfection. The law firms hit by ransomware most certainly had antivirus products in place, though likely not so good as the best ones. Adding another line of defense specifically for ransomware makes sense. Ransomware affects more firms than all other types of malware.
A free product, Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware, is my personal recommendation for a free, ransomware-specific software for Windows and Mac computers. A recent article listing most of the leading options can be found here. (Note that I don’t recommend the top product on this list, Kaspersky Anti-Ransomware Tool, because of the U.S. government warnings about Kaspersky’s ties to Russian intelligence and the Kremlin.)
It takes a few steps to download and install Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware. The company would like you to install the free trial of their paid business product. You need to download a ZIP file of the Malwarebytes business product, open the ZIP file, copy a particular installer file, and paste it into a folder.
Currently, the ZIP file is Malwarebytes_Endpoint_Security_1.9.1.0018.ZIP. You can download it here.
The installer file is: mbarw-setup-business-0.9.18.806.msi. It is found inside the ZIP file in this subfolder: Malwarebytes_Endpoint_Security_1.9.1.0018\Unmanaged\Windows.
Once you’ve copied the file out of the ZIP file, just double-click it. It installs quickly and disappears into the Notification Area (lower right corner of your Windows desktop).
The installer file is: Malwarebytes-Mac-184.108.40.2061.pkg. It is found inside the ZIP file in this subfolder: Malwarebytes_Endpoint_Security_1.9.1.0018.ZIP\Malwarebytes_Endpoint_Security_1.9.1.0018\Unmanaged\Mac\Real Time Protection.
Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware gets along nicely with Webroot. To be cautious if you have a different antivirus program, you could add Malwarebytes to the list of programs excluded from scans and real-time checking.
It is worth taking the time to install Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware. Other free products aren’t so effective, might annoy you with ads, or don’t necessarily protect files outside of certain folders.
Take the time to add another line of defense to your computer. The next time you read about another firm hit by ransomware, you will feel better knowing you have another watchdog on duty.
What’s YOUR Question?
If you have a technology question, please forward it to Managing Editor Rob Salkin (email@example.com) at your earliest convenience. Our response team selects the questions for response and publication. Our regular response team includes Jeffrey Allen, Wells H. Anderson, Jordan L. Couch, Ashley Hallene, Al Harrison, and Patrick Palace. We publish submitted questions anonymously, just in case you do not want someone else to know you asked the question.
Please send in your questions today!
Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 9, Number 7, February 2020. © 2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.