Protecting Yourself from Cybercrime Dangers: Keep the Bad Guys Out With a Firewall On Your Internet Connection
Cybercrime dangers are many, complex and ever-changing. Hardly a day goes by without another news report of a data breach or other cyber-related scam or theft. Cyber criminals have considerable resources and expertise, and can cause significant damage to their targets. Cyber criminals specifically target law firms as law firms regularly have funds in their trust accounts and client data that is often very valuable. LAWPRO encourages all law firms to make dedicated and ongoing efforts to identify and understand their potential cybercrime vulnerabilities, and to take steps to reduce their exposure to cyber-related dangers. This article, from the December 2013 issue of LAWPRO Magazine, reviews the specific cybercrime dangers law firms need to be concerned about, and how they can mitigate their risks.
When you are connected to the Internet, the Internet is connected to you. For computers to transmit data back and forth over the Internet, lines of communication must be established. These communications work through “ports” that are opened on each computer. The problem is that all the computers on the Internet can see one another, and these ports can allow unauthorized people to access the data on a computer and even take control of it.
Regardless of how your office connects to the Internet, your computer systems must be protected by a firewall – a type of electronic gatekeeper that ensures all incoming and outgoing communications are legitimate. A firewall watches these ports and will warn you about or prevent unauthorized communications.
Firewalls come in two varieties: software and hardware. Software firewalls are easier to set up, usually protect a single computer, and are adequate for personal or small firm use. Hardware firewalls are usually used to protect an entire network of computers. The more recent versions of both the Windows and Mac operating systems have a built-in firewall that you should enable. High-speed modems generally include a basic firewall. If you are using remote access software, you should consider using a hardware firewall to better protect the ports that must be opened for the remote access software to work.