SIDEBAR Fall 2017 - 26


By Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq.


or over 25 years, I have been an avid user of
technology of all kinds and all purposes. I have
written articles and presented workshops for
many organizations. One thing that did not happen
during that time happened recently. I was hacked!
That's right - I was hacked! How embarrassing,
humiliating and ironic it felt, but it happened. After
the clean-up, I decided to use my experience to help
you prevent someone from hacking your technology.
The first thing you should do is conduct an
inventory of your devices: desktops, tablets and
phones. Are they up to date? Are your operating
systems, applications, hardware and accessories
current? Do not put this off for another day.
On your desktop, check to make sure your
system is protected by a firewall. Most operating
systems have this feature available within the security
features and can easily be enabled if this is not
your current configuration. There are third party
applications available for purchase, if needed. Tablets
and phones do not have this feature because of the
difference in the operating systems of the device.
Next, scan your desktop for viruses, malware or
other varmints that can cause major problems with
your data, etc. Be cautious with free downloads that
promise coverage but require expensive add-ons to
be fully functional or continue to function after a
trial period. This is not something to buy on the
cheap. A good example of antivirus that is worth
your investment is the package offer from Norton by
It goes without saying that pirated or "borrowed"
old or out-of-date software should be deleted.
Make sure you follow the best practices for deleting
software as provided in the installation materials.
Never download or copy anything from someone or
left on an old device or from the internet without
verification as to its authenticity.


While we are at it, your internet access point can
be a potential culprit. Wi-Fi, email, online data, etc.
1. Email - use a standard, well known
provider like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail. They
have excellent materials, customer service and
keep their software current and safe. It is user
error that causes most breaches.
2. Choose a strong user name and password.
Keep it secure, not on a yellow sticky attached
to the computer. Change it often. This is a tip
to pass onto your clients, especially if they are
still living in the same house with their spouse.
If you allow email or text communication with
your clients (who doesn't?), I suggest that your
client create a new email account with a new
carrier (i.e. gmail, yahoo, etc.) in order to avoid
confusion or potential problems.
3. Your Wi-Fi network needs protection as
well. Again, review all the security information
and settings to maximize protection. Again,
choose a strong network name and password.
4. If you are hacked, immediately change
all passwords that you are using for email,
internet and network access. Next, contact the
responsible provider or company - they are your
"first responders" for domain, network or Wi-Fi
issues. Certain internet protocols need to be
put in place. Scan your device as stated above.
Quarantine and delete any suspicious email,
application or program. Anything deeper, such as
code added to your system configuration, is best
left to a professional.
In general, be suspicious of any email,
downloads, or attachments of any kind sent to you
or that you come across while surfing the web.
Good luck! This is merely an overview, but
hopefully it will help you understand and prevent
serious problems.

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