Recent Internet threats have made headlines by fundamentally affecting court operations and law practices across the nation. From the latest email scam targeting legal professionals, to the 3-hour incapacitation of the federal courts’ CM/ECF system on Jan. 24th, legal practitioners everywhere can readily conclude that stronger network security measures are in the works.
But how might these take shape? At the federal level, we will likely see tougher legislation against cyber attackers, and more resources funneling into our ability to identify and prosecute such attackers. Currently, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the short-lived paralysis of the federal PACER and accompanying ECF system.
While the FBI investigates whether reported software “glitches” were to blame, or if cyber attackers were responsible for effectively shutting down electronic filing to the federal ECF system last week (or perhaps a combination of both) practitioners can be proactive now toward changes in security at any level.
Start with Your Email Application
If and when stronger security measures are taken at your firm, they will surely include more email filters. How your IT providers or department handle email attachments is one issue. Prohibiting ‘highly suspect’ emails from infiltrating network servers is another, and is often the first-line-of-defense for IT.
Attorneys, paralegals and their staff need to be acutely aware of all IT defense mechanisms, and how they will impact their daily operations. Even as IT understands they cannot be the final word on what communications may or may not be relevant to you, they are also under increasing pressure to provide network protection from emerging threats.
>>Spam filters adopt many protocols –and are constantly evolving. >Be proactive now by reading any and all memos from IT. Updates from your Network/IT Administrators may seem frequent; But it pays to read and heed all such communications.
and what will happen to incoming messages once a mailbox is full.
>>Remember the classics. These are the tried, but not always true, filters applied to incoming emails that can cause problems. Subject matter and even something as simple as a sender’s surname can get snared in a spam filter…
>Search your entire email application –including the Spam/Junk Mail Folder – for any expected yet unreceived emails.
>>Run vetted searches –daily. Don’t assume your court e-notices such as Notice of Docketing Activity (NDAs) and other alerts are flowing like clockwork to your inbox. Know how to login to the court’s efiling system and run activity reports yourself should support staff be out.
>Generate a list of all courts where you practice that also includes specific departments such as the help desk email, the clerk’s office, and all other document/efiling specific email addresses. Add these to your Approved Senders list.
It may take a bit of extra time to run searches and take these precautions each day, but the payoff could be invaluable. If you miss an electronic service or filing notice from the court, your appeal could be dismissed. You may miss a notice to submit an attorney fees request.
If you have a specific efiling question, or simply need help getting your appeal started, you can contact me here.About the Author: Natasha R. Monell, Esq, is Vice President of Appellate Management & Staff Counsel, and heads up our team of appellate advocates at Record Press, Inc., where her appellate filing expertise has been a highly sought after commodity for well over 15 years. Ms. Monell specializes in New York State Appellate Courts, all Federal Circuit Courts and United States Supreme Court filings and strategies that advance any litigation teams’ appeal to perfection.
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