In this issue:
• Two Deputy Executive Directors Appointed for the Law Society
• Nominate a Lawyer Today for a Distinguished Service Award
• Police warning the public about "Ransomware scam"
Two Deputy Executive Directors Appointed for the Law Society
By Don Thompson, QC, Executive Director
I am pleased to announce the appointment of two Deputy Executive Directors for the Law Society.
Elizabeth Osler and Michael Penny, QC have been appointed Deputy Executive Directors. Elizabeth Osler joined the Law Society in September 2012 as Director, Regulation, and Michael Penny currently is the Director, Policy and Research. This will permit Ms. Osler and Mr. Penny to carry out the responsibilities of the Executive Director under the Legal Profession Act.
Ms. Osler has a background as a commercial solicitor at McCarthy Tetrault, corporate secretary at TransAlta, corporate secretary and corporate counsel at the Alberta Securities Commission, and most recently Associate General Counsel and University Secretary at the University of Calgary.
Before joining the Law Society, Mr. Penny was practising as a managing partner at Emery Jamieson LLP. He became counsel for the Law Society at the Edmonton office in 2007, and was appointed Director, Policy and Research in 2009.
Please join me in congratulating Ms. Osler and Mr. Penny.
Nominate a Lawyer Today for a Distinguished Service Award
Do you know a lawyer whose profession is their passion? Please consider nominating a lawyer for a Distinguished Service Award in any of four categories:
- Service to the Community
- Service to the Profession
- Legal Scholarship
- Pro Bono Legal Service
The Distinguished Service Awards celebrate excellence in the legal profession. Jointly awarded by the Law Society of Alberta and the Canadian Bar Association – Alberta, these prestigious awards recognize the many outstanding contributions Alberta lawyers make to the community, to the profession, to legal scholarship and in pro bono legal service.
The nomination deadline is November 21, 2012. Nomination forms and further details are available on the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ab.ca. To make a nomination, please include the following information:
- A statement detailing why the candidate is worthy of the award,
- A curriculum vitae outlining the nominee’s background, career and any current activities, and
- A maximum of two letters of support for the nomination.
The 2013 Distinguished Service Awards will be presented at the Alberta Law Conference on Friday, February 1, 2013 at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, Alberta.
Police warning the public about "Ransomware scam"
Lethbridge Regional Police are warning the public about a cyber scam that locks down computers and attempts to trick users into paying a ransom in order to regain control.
Over the past few months the Economic Crimes Unit has received numerous complaints in relation the “Ransomware scam.”
Ransomware is a type of malware that attempts to extort money from computer users by taking control of the victim’s machine and locking it to prevent normal use or encrypting documents and files to prevent access. Once activated, a message pops up on the screen advising the user that they must pay a “fee” or “fine” to unlock their computer. Often the so-called ransom message will appear to come from a law enforcement agency and include police logos or other insignia. The message may indicate that some law has been broken or the computer has been associated with child pornography or illegal music downloads.
LRPS advises that police agencies do not communicate this way or attempt to collect fines in this manner.
If you are the victim of one of these cyber attacks the following steps should be taken:
- DO NOT send money to the cyber attacker. They will not unlock your computer.
- Contact an authorized computer technician for assistance in removing the virus or malware.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre.ca or 1-888-495-8501 to report the cyber-attack.
Cyber attacks can be very detrimental to the operation of any personal computers or business networks due to the money and time associated with removal, repair and recovery of data. As such it is important to take precautions to help reduce the risk of being victimized.
- Always install software updates (Microsoft, virus scanners, etc.)
- Conduct regular system back-ups and store these back-ups in a location other than a computer that is hooked up to the internet or a network.
- Use a firewall program to stop people from remotely accessing a computer or network.
Beware of Hackers Targeting Law Firms
Hackers pose a serious risk to law firms so it’s important lawyers ensure they have appropriate measures in place to secure their electronic data. Cyber-attacks are not only directed at the general public – hackers have accessed lawyers’ email contact lists and spread viruses to client contacts or posed as stranded travellers requesting immediate payment of funds. Recently, hackers have accessed office computer systems, encrypting data and posted digital ransom notes demanding payment for passwords. The following checklist, while not exhaustive, can help you enhance security and protect your practice:
- Make sure your network programs are up-to-date with all security patches downloaded and installed
- Use strong anti-virus software and programs that can protect from spyware and adware collecting personal or client information from your computer, and monitor your internet activity
- Strengthen passwords, encrypt data, and control and monitor access to your systems
- Create office policies relating to technology use in your firm and regularly train staff on these data security measures
- Establish multiple systems for backing up data – full system back-up of your client and practice information and daily back-ups with some back-up versions stored in a secure, off-site storage location