Rumpelstiltskin! What is the darn password again!

Believe it or not, the most common password is the word password. Before feeling smug about that unique password you created, think about how many sites where you have used it. Fess up; you are not alone. The aggravation of forgetting a password has led many people to use one password everywhere. The danger is that if a hacker comes upon your password and a list of your accounts, the hacker can try to enter these other accounts with the password already known. How could this happen? I will share my own experience about when my personal gmail account was hacked.

I must fess up: I used one password on all non-financial related sites. The Gmail Hacker got into my gmail account, looked around in my in box and pulled up my Facebook account email. How did I find out? The Gmail Hacker began getting emails sent to my gmail address. Discovering what had happened, I changed my gmail password to a unique strong password then tried to deal with Facebook. I contacted Facebook to report I had been hacked and wanted to insure that the Gmail Hacker would be shut down out of my Facebook account. I also changed my Facebook password to be another unique strong password. To my aggravation, I periodically get emails from Facebook addressed to the Gmail Hacker asking to return to Facebook. I delete these emails, uttering a curse upon Facebook for ignoring my report of being hacked by this person(s). My hacker did not go by the name Gmail Hacker but I do not want to add to his/her hacking ego by repeating it.

So lesson learned. Use a strong password, strong because it’s length and complexity render it difficult to breech. Many sites now have a password strength meter to check how strong this password choice is compared to safety guidelines. Current security standards show that a safe password should be a minimum 16 characters long made up of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Your safest course of action is to use a password generator otherwise human nature resorts to a pattern that a hacker could figure out. Randomness and unpredictability are qualities that will keep your password safe(r).

Jotting your list of passwords on a post it and and sticking it on your computer monitor is not a good practice at the office or even at home. There are a number of good password keeper programs or apps that are very helpful. Be sure to create a long, complex, random and unique password to access your password keeper. Google password keeper and you’ll see there are password keeper apps for iPhones, iPads, android devices, web-based, or downloadable to your laptop or desktop. Some you might want to check out include Password Keeper (www.password-keeper.net), KeePass Password Safe (www.keepass.info.com), RoboForm (www.roboform.com), LastPass (www.lastpass.com) and eWallet (www.illiumsoftware.com/eWallet/). Whichever password keeper you use, keep it safe with its own unique password.  Now get busy changing all those unsafe passwords!

Most Important Checklist: Security of Your Gizmos and Gadgets

Here at the PLF we are fond of checklists as a tool for loss prevention. Busy lawyers and their staff will find lots of checklists among the 41 different categories of practice aids and forms. http://www.osbpf.org.

Here is an important checklist you may not have written down.
1. Check that your cell phone – especially Smart Phone– has a password to access it and use it.

2. Check that you have a remote device tracking and data-wipe application installed for your phone and your laptop.

3. Check that your laptop has a secure WiFi if using public WiFi spots.

4. Check that your password is a “strong” password and change it often and different variations for different locations.

5. Check that your cell phone is still on your hip, that your laptop is safely in its bag in your immediate control, and that all those gizmo and gadgets are all tucked away safely where you want them to be.”

Client confidentiality is helped with a checklist for the security of your electronic gizmos and gadgets.

Staying the Course

December 1st. The first day of the last month in the year, 2010. Some lawyers are wondering if they should continue trying to launch their new law firm. It is important to realize that it is hard work running your own law firm.

Conventional wisdom is it takes three years to successfully launch a new business. Three years can be a scary long time when the clients aren’t coming to you fast enough. How can you stay the course?

Consider doing some contract lawyering or contract paralegal work in addition to working on your own client matters. The PLF has some helpful materials under “Contract Lawyering” in their Practice Aids and Forms category online at http://www.osbplf.org and there is a helpful CLE titled “Practical Contract Lawyering” that gives you a total of 4.0 MCLE credits – .75 general, 2.5 general or practical skills, and .75 ethics. Helpful, free… what could be better than this? Call the PLF and ask to speak to one of us practice management advisors! 503-639-6911 or toll free in Oregon at 1-800-452-1639 and ask for me, Dee, Beverly. We’re here to help you stay the course.

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