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Brooklyn Bar Association holds Zoom video conferencing seminar for attorneys

April 9, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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It took less than a month for the entire legal community to shift to working from home, but just because the industry made the change doesn’t mean that individual lawyers are all able to keep up.

To ensure that local attorneys are best able to help their clients, the Brooklyn Bar Association held a free continuing legal education seminar for its members on Tuesday where they made sure that people are able to use the video conferencing program Zoom.

Attorney and BBA Trustee Daniel Antonelli and David Bensinger, a PhD who runs Bensinger Technology, and who works mostly with law firms, presented the CLE entitled, “Work at Home and be Cyber Safe,” on Tuesday.

David Bensinger from Bensinger Technology has become one of the go-to experts for attorneys in Brooklyn after he’s done a number of CLEs for the Brooklyn Bar Association.

For an hour, they addressed nearly 60 attorneys over video conferencing and explained some of the technical and non-technical steps attorneys can take to secure their digital commute. They also answered as many questions as they could from attorneys who have struggled with the transition.

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“This has been an unprecedented time in my industry,” Bensinger said. “We do tech support largely for law firms and we have had every single client within a couple of weeks say, we need to have everyone completely removed from our office and have everyone working securely on the same matters from home.”

The first thing that Bensinger addressed was security on Zoom, since it has received so much press. He explained that, especially for non-confidential meetings, Zoom was perfectly sufficient.

“Zoom has been in the press so much and has gotten negative press about the security, but here we are using it,” Bensinger said. “At its core it’s a very open system. It’s so easy to host a public meeting. People don’t need to be members to join. All you need is to send out an ID and anyone can join it. I think a lot of the problems come from the ease of use.”

Daniel Antonelli explained etiquette expectations for attorneys using Zoom for work.

Antonelli explained that there are three strategies that people can use to easily make meetings more secure — force people to have a Zoom account that they need to use to login to a meeting, enable a password, and make use of the “waiting room” feature.

“With something like this, where obviously you don’t want someone Zoom bombing it with ugly information, but it’s not confidential information. I think the standard security features do a good job to keep the harassers out,” Bensinger said. “If you have more secure client information, you can add extra layers of security as well.”

Bensinger explained that there are alternatives to Zoom, but added that many come with their own security risks and performance issues as well.

The biggest risks of working from home concern people themselves and not necessarily the technology they use. Bensinger explained that many hackers use social engineering to target people.

“Social engineering is when they attack the person rather than the technology,” Bensinger said. “It’s trying to fool someone into giving up confidential information.”

He discussed some common scenarios that people use to trick unsuspecting employees. Phishing scams disguised as coronavirus-related emails can trick people into giving up information.

“The most important thing you can do to stay safe is really about awareness and that you are thinking about information that is coming into and out of your devices and that you are careful who you send information to,” Bensinger said. “Always be skeptical of information you get from an unknown sender. If it’s someone you know and you recognize that person it’s fine, but if you have any questions it’s a good idea to contact that person, send them a fresh email or text and ask them.”

Three easy steps that any lawyer can take towards protecting their practices include training all staff on how to work from home and what the risks are, knowing who to call when a problem or breach happens, and keeping all software up to date. He suggested using the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to what to do in case of a security breach.

During the meeting, Antonelli ended up taking a few questions about etiquette for attorneys working from home.

He explained that, due to the nature of the pandemic, people should be patient with each other and reminded everyone that daycare centers for children have been closed. He also said that dress codes are more relaxed in this environment, but it’s best to know your audience and err on the side of overdressing. While people are more patient, he said, nobody wants to see their lawyers without pants on.

Antonelli, who was broadcasting from his basement in New Rochelle, suggested that people use Zoom backgrounds or work in front of a blank wall.

“Getting interrupted is becoming somewhat accepted,” he said. “I was listening to an ABA podcast and the attorney speaking was explaining that now that her kids are home, because of no child care, she’s getting interrupted all the time. You can always mute yourself as long as you are not the one doing the talking.”

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