LEGAL SPECIALIST LINE: SECURING YOUR COMPUTER AGAINST HACK
April 7, 2005
SECURING YOUR COMPUTER AGAINST HACKERS CAN HELP AVOID LAWSUITS AND IDENTITY THEFT
By W.F. "Casey" Ebsary Jr., Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer
As the use of commercial broadband cable modems flourishes, the opportunity for computer criminals or hackers to attack computers attached to these networks has skyrocketed, and digital-information thieves literally have wealth at their fingertips.
If you have not taken steps to protect your office or home computers against hackers you should be aware that some federal law requires organizations to be responsible guardians of data stored on their computers, and stealing data from a computer is a federal crime. In Florida, it is a felony to use a persons personal identification information without permission.
New threats to computer security arise frequently, putting your customer lists, marketing plans and financial information at risk from even the least sophisticated hackers. A multi-tiered approach to security is your best defense. Here are some steps you can take to protect your computer and your personal information:
Firewalls Hard and Soft
A hard firewall as simple as a router wired or wireless can strengthen your defenses against nefarious efforts to access your computer network. The key with wireless routers is to enable password protection of the device and change the manufacturers default settings. Software firewalls also are useful, often are automatically updated, and can respond to threats developed after the installation of the hard firewall.
Maintenance of current virus protection software is critical. Most top-of-the-line software packages automatically access the publishers Web site to obtain a current list of threats or virus definitions.
Spyware is a program that installs itself in your operating system but its effects are not noticed until a computers Internet access slows, a browser home page changes, a new search bar appears, or myriad other odd symptoms surface. Many programs are available that can identify and delete spyware.
Computer networks, like chains, are only as strong as their weakest links. Make sure all machines accessing your network are secured with the latest operating system updates. Since some system updates have file sizes that require hours to download by a telephone dialup connection, many dialup users dont take the time to install them.
Your risk from computer criminals is real. Even if a hacker does not obtain your credit-card information or payroll records through illegal access to your computer, recovering compromised data from a destroyed hard disk drive begins at around $5,000 per disk drive.
The Florida Attorney Generals Office operates a toll-free hotline to report identity theft or other acts of fraud. If you believe you have been the victim of ID theft, call the No Fraud Hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or visit www.myfloridalegal.com.
W.F. "Casey" Ebsary, Jr. is a Board-Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer whose practice focuses on computer networking and issues arising from litigation using digital evidence. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Contact him at 813/222-2220 or email@example.com.
CONTACT: Lisa Garcia, APR
DATE: April 20, 2005