Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Terrapin Technology

Terrapin Technology Group, Inc. managed to both scare us to death and reassure us at the SVALA July luncheon.

That’s okay; Terrapin has been a Platinum Sponsor of the SVALA for several years now so they are allowed to do that.

Last spring, Betty Nelson of Terrapin shared tips for keeping our computer systems secure. At our July luncheon, Nathan Johanson and Misty Quaintance took those tips one step further and presented an in-depth look at “Security Threats & Solutions.”

Thank goodness for the solutions part!

Nathan shared several ways law firms can succumb to hackers. Apparently, hackers have figured out law firms are a potentially lucrative target and are getting even cleverer with their methods of exploitation.

Aside from the ransomware attacks there are prolific phishing schemes targeting law firms and their clients – ranging from individuals to corporations to non-profits. These phishing schemes are unfortunately working so it does not look like they will go away any time soon.

Nathan explained how a phishing scheme works and then pointed out several ways to spot one of these phishing emails. Several administrators in the room were familiar with this popular technique so Nathan is not kidding when he warns of the dangers out there.

Phishing works something like this: A hacker will spoof the email of the managing partner or CEO (the information is readily available on the website of most companies). The hacker then sends an email to someone in the accounting department (this information is not usually available on a company’s website but it is easily obtained with a phone call or even social media mining). The “CEO” (hacker) asks the accounting person to make a wire transfer and does so in a way that makes it seem like an urgent request.  The recipient of such a request could very easily fall victim to this sort of scam unless they knew what to look for.

Nathan pointed out that many times, there are misspellings in these requests or the fake CEO does not sound like him or herself. (An administrator in the audience shared she received such a request from her managing partner to wire money and the email started with “Hey.”  Even though they frequently make wire transfers, she immediately knew this did not come from her managing partner because he would never in a million years greet someone with “hey.”)

It is details like this that can tip us off to a fake email request. Nathan reminded us several times to “take a breath” when getting these emails. Yes, we and our accounting people want to make sure our CEOs and Managing Partners are kept happy but we also need to take a breath and make sure what we are doing is in response to an actual, legitimate request.

It also helps when law firms and corporations have solid check and balance systems that the recipient can fall back on in order to avert a potential disaster.

Nathan also pointed out that aside from the details of the body of the email, the real address of the email sender can be uncovered with a few minutes of detective work. Either hover over the email address to see the real sender or even click on reply to see where the email is being sent. In addition, check the “mailto:” address in the sender’s address to see the real sender.

Of course, all of these tips mean we have to slow down, “take a breath” and take the time to verify information. Considering the alternative, it is definitely well worth the extra few minutes.

One last bit of scary information on the phishing scheme is, apparently, the hackers are starting to spoof emails from scanners. We always have to be on our toes!

One solution Nathan and Misty suggested using to educate and test our staff is called “KnowBe4” which is a program IT staff can use to emulate a phishing scheme and send to the firm. The education part comes after people click on the fake email. Oops!

Nathan and Misty talked about other security threats such as websites being hacked. There are tools to use to check if a website has been compromised such as checking a site status through “Google Safe Browsing.”

It was an exhausting seminar only because it was packed with great information and, frankly, it takes a lot out of a person to be scared!

Thankfully, there were raffle prizes given out at the end so that made us all feel a little bit better. Especially the winners (which included me!).

Many thanks to Nathan Johanson, President of Terrapin, and Misty Quaintance, Terrapin Technical Director, for helping keep our systems safe and us on our toes! Oh, and, of course, thank you for the fabulous gift card!


Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Terrapin Technology

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:


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!



Let’s Talk Tech: Administrator Roundtable

I cringed when Misty Quaintance, Technical Director of Terrapin Technology Group, talked about phishing emails and “spear-phishing” – even “ransomware” – and how common it is for people to click on the link provided in these emails. The potential damage to not only that user’s computer but the entire network made this packed house squirm a little in their seats.

2016 - terrapin july lunch
The Terrapin Team: Nathan, Marni, Misty, Betty, Joe


At least it doesn’t only happen at my law firm (and I would guess from all the squirming most administrators at the luncheon had that same thought).

Fortunately, Misty did not just present problems but she provided solutions. Educating users is a huge first step. Nathan Johanson, President of Terrapin, jumped in to stress the importance of regular, frequent system back-ups and recommended backing up the system at least four times a day.

Misty definitely lived up to her “nerd guy” nickname (in a good way) and her presentation proved how knowledgeable she is regarding technology.

Next up, Betty Nelson, Practice Support Coordinator, and Marni Beach, Technical Engineer and Instructor, talked about Best Practices. While neither have a nickname (at least not one they shared with the group) they both were just as knowledgeable and dynamic.

luncheon - July 2016 - Betty
Betty Nelson

Betty has been in the legal business since Cyndi Lauper told us Girls Just Want to Have Fun and boy does she! Betty not only has passion for helping us create an environment in our firms that encourages technical proficiency but she has the most enjoyable and infectious laugh!

Marni talked about competency skills and offering training and testing (oops! “assessment”) without scaring the staff out the front door. With Marni’s enthusiasm and can-do attitude to back up her training and technical expertise she proved to be a dynamic, motivational speaker.

Luncheon - July 2016 - Marni
Marni Beach

Marni and Betty suggested firms find internal power users to be mentors to other staff that don’t have the natural inclination to have computer proficiency. They stressed the importance of putting a positive spin on training and assessments and suggested a monthly training “lunch and learn” that can focus on areas people are struggling with. Their ideas for incentives were original and creative (for instance, spot bonuses or creating a passport that people use to collect competency stickers).

They stepped back and encouraged each table to discuss our technology challenges and then made us talk about what we discussed (but not in an annoying, classroom-style kind of way). The discussions were lively and informative and about real issues that each of us struggle with in each of our firms.

Many of us might find technology dry (not to name names or to make any confessions) but the energy of Misty, Betty and Marni was infectious and made me (I mean some other person) forget about that. The luncheon was fun and informative and left us with actionable items that we can implement in our own firms.

The Terrapin team (which included Joe O’Donnell, Technical Engineer and Instructor leading the discussion at my table) did a terrific job putting together an engaging presentation and roundtable. Their support of the SVALA as a Platinum Business Partner and as educators for our firms is much appreciated.

The lunch ended with a raffle with gift cards donated by the SVALA and a few more donated by Terrapin. I would list the winners but I was listening so intently for my name to be drawn I forgot to write down who won. (No, I didn’t win.)

luncheon - july 2016 - group 3
July 2016 Luncheon Attendees

Also, many thanks go to Kellie B. Narayan for putting together a lunch with such high attendance!

Thanks again to Terrapin! If you want to learn more about Nathan and his company, please read about them in the Business Partner Spotlight.

Coming up: watch this space for information about the August luncheon.

Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Terrapin Technology Group

One of the benefits of being a member of the SVALA is getting to know our fabulous Business Partners.  Several have been supporters of our group for many years so the members get to see these companies on a regular basis and talk with them on a personal level without the pressure of a sales presentation.

labor bkfst - terrapin - 1-2015
Terrapin Technology at the 2015 Labor Law Breakfast

Business Partners are people too!

Terrapin Technology Group has been one of those long-time supporters and is one of our Platinum Sponsors. Nathan Johanson has created an IT firm that many of our members are familiar with and use in various capacities. My firm (Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP) has used Terrapin for some of our training needs and Boutin Jones uses them for tech support and training as well.

There are several other member firms that have used Terrapin which probably has helped propel them into the Sacramento Business Journal’s Top Ten Fastest Growing Companies in the Sacramento region! Wow!

Terrapin Technology is hosting a “Let’s Talk Tech” Administrator Roundtable at our July 27 luncheon at the Casa Garden Restaurant.

For now, let’s learn more about Terrapin Technology Group and Nathan Johanson!

Thank you for being a Platinum Business Partner of the Sacramento Valley Legal Administrators Association.  Please tell us why you chose to support our organization.

Terrapin is focused on meeting the IT needs of law firms. We work with legal administrators all the time and help them make effective IT strategy and purchasing decisions. We respect the work that SVALA does in serving these professionals, so it’s a natural fit for us.

Please tell us about Terrapin Technology Group and the services you provide.

Terrapin provides a full range of IT consulting services, from day-to-day user support to system maintenance, complete system engineering and training, with a focus on serving the needs of law firms. Terrapin also offers installation of network cabling, telephone, audio visual and security systems. Our dedicated team is available whenever issues arise – even during odd hours.

Give us a little background about yourself.   

I worked for The Computer People (now Terrapin) for six years prior to purchasing the company with my business partner Tim Raney in 2008. I was previously the west coast information systems manager for Pumatech in San Jose, where I managed IT for the San Jose, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz and Emeryville facilities.

How is it different working with law firms than other non-legal businesses?

Because of the nature of the business, law firms understand the importance of their IT infrastructure and can easily calculate the costs of downtime: they simply need to multiply the number of billable hours lost across all attorneys. They’re a highly educated client base and are quick to understand our recommendations for securing and improving their infrastructure and systems.

Tell us how you would describe your working style.  What makes you successful at what you do?

Terrapin is fortunate to have a tremendous team, with the right combination of technical and people skills. We have a real understanding of the legal community and many of our employees have previous experience as legal secretaries, administrators or law firm IT professionals. In fact, the two latest additions to our team each have more than 20 years of experience at law firms. We only hire people who have an attention to detail and a strong work ethic, including a personal sense of obligation to the client.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work. 

When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. We keep busy with our kids’ activities, including soccer, guitar lessons and swimming. I also love listening to music; I’m an audiophile and have been steadily building my record collection. Remember those old vinyl records? I also recently started cycling and will compete in my first Eppie’s Great Race this year.

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Terrapin Technology Group?

Since our formation, Terrapin has developed a strong reputation for providing excellent customer service and, as a result, virtually all of our new business is generated by referral. This is due to our strong team, who are not only tech-savvy but who have a real commitment to doing a great job for our clients. We pride ourselves on having employees who are professional, well-spoken and friendly. We get the legal business, so there is no learning curve when we start work with new law firms.

Many thanks to Nathan for his time! I am looking forward to the “Let’s Talk Tech” Administrators Roundtable and hope to see everyone there!