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Terrapin Technology Group, Inc. has been a Platinum Business Sponsor of the SVALA for several years now and various members of their team are welcome fixtures at our events. We appreciate being able to pick their brains about various IT issues over salad or cocktails (depending on the event).

Nathan Johanson and Joe O’Donnell at a member event

One topic that has been the subject of a few member email surveys and discussions among administrators is IT Security. Firms do not want to be subject to downtime because of hacking or viruses or even ransomware. Yikes! How scary does ransomware sound?

You can learn more about Terrapin from their first Business Partner Spotlight, including how they were listed by the Sacramento Business Journal as the tenth fastest growing local tech company from 2013 – 2015. We can now share they were ranked fourth on the list from 2015 – 2016! Congratulations to the Terrapin team!

Betty Nelson, a member of that terrific Terrapin team, took time out of her busy schedule to share a tip for keeping our IT systems secure. Betty has just the right mix of tech and people skills and has an infectious laugh that will definitely have you smiling or laughing right along with her. (Betty’s complete bio is at the end of the article.)

Two-Factor Authentication: Why You Need It Today

Remember the good ole days? You had a password you used for everything. It was something that was easy to remember — your child’s name, a pet’s name, your name. Well, those days are long gone. The bad guys seem to be upping the ante on a daily basis.

If you want to keep your personal information secure, you should be using two-factor authentication (2FA). It may sound complex, but it’s not.

What Is It?

It works a little differently with online browsing and computers.

Where You Can Use It

Ticketmaster just started enforcing use of 2FA. If you want to download and print your tickets, you need to provide a code they send to your registered email. You will see 2FA popping up more frequently every day, and in some instances, you can’t opt out from using it. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and LinkedIn are just a few companies embracing 2FA.

By requiring an additional factor, such as secret code sent by text to your phone or via email, the risk of being impersonated is dramatically reduced.

Google does a great job making 2FA easy. You can opt to register devices (a cell phone, iPad, etc.) and enter a lengthy one-time code. If your device is stolen or lost, you log into Google and remove that device from your trusted list. Also, when you first activate 2FA and initially log into a web browser with your username and password, a six-digit code is generated and sent to your cell phone via text messaging. In order to complete the log-in process you must next enter the six-digit code. At that time, you can opt to have Google remember and trust that browser, eliminating the need to use a six-digit code when you return to Google on that specific browser (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) from that same computer.

Banks are now starting to ask additional questions after you log in from a new device. That’s what’s important — because someone who is trying to log into your bank most likely isn’t doing it from your computer, but from a computer in Russia, China or other location. If you use two-factor authentication, you can stop that from happening.

Why Attorneys Should Care

I’ve seen attorneys and staff say this is too much work and skip voluntary 2FA, but we need to remember the risks of information being compromised. Not only can your bank account and personal information be stolen, but hackers often send out “spoof” emails from your account to everyone in your address book and include malicious embedded links. If you or your friends and clients click on those links, malware can be installed on your computer, making your data and files visible to the bad guys.

This is where the real trouble starts.

Terrapin recommends you start using 2FA for your personal email and social media accounts. It doesn’t take much effort but can make a big difference in protecting your data.  You can get started with these links:

Google
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Microsoft

Betty Nelson speaking at the July SVALA luncheon

About Betty Nelson: Betty has 36 years of experience working with Sacramento law firms. She spent the first the first 21 years of her career as a litigation legal secretary. Betty worked at Downey Brand for the past 15 years and left in 2015 to relocate to the mid-coast of Maine. She easily segued from her legal secretarial career into Downey’s information services department in 2000, where she became their Information Services Manager.

Betty’s always had a passion for changing technology – likely born out of the fact that technology simply didn’t exist in law firms when she started her career in 1980. Her project management skills, combined with her litigation background and passion for developing a positive technology experience for users, made her a natural fit as Terrapin’s Practice Support Coordinator. She’s known for her high energy, initiative, and ability to make business associates and clients feel at ease.

Betty taps her outstanding people skills and years of experience in the legal community to help with customer support, day-to-day operations and business strategy. She works with clients directly in areas such as technology support, firm security review, trial presentations (demonstrative evidence), project management and training initiatives. Betty also contributes to the Terrapin blog and assists with marketing and social media.

Many thanks to Nathan Johanson, President of Terrapin, and Betty Nelson for helping keep our systems safe!

Trish