Thursday, February 12, 2004

Public Relations Begins at Your Computer
By: Gina F. Rubel, Esq. and John Miriello

Public relations begin at the office, at your desk and at your computer. Public relations is not just a strategic way to get your firm noticed, it’s a mindset and a management style. Public relations is not just sending press releases to the media when your firm lands and groundbreaking verdict or settles a multi-million dollar case. It is sending an e-mail without a computer virus attached, understanding the capabilities and limitations of e-mail correspondence, and knowing how to protect your firm, clients and colleagues from cyber-attacks.

Like a tax on liquor, the effect of technology is bittersweet on our lives and there are certain risks. But ask any intelligent businessperson, and the likely analysis you will receive is the real benefit is in minimizing the risks. So how do we get along with technology and minimize our risks to put forward our best public relations? Take the necessary precautions. For one, subscribe to a worthwhile e-mail alert system that will advise of new threats and the latest trends in the cyber-world. One such system that users can sign up for is The National Cyber Alert System which is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security (http://www.us-cert.gov). According to the Web site, “The National Cyber Alert System provides timely information about current and emerging threats and vulnerabilities as well as advice about protecting your computer and networks.”

Other ways to stay one step ahead of the game when securing your computers, clients’ information, and electronic correspondences include:

• Purchase and install antivirus software on your computer or have a technician install it on your entire network. And UPDATE your antivirus software on a regular basis (daily). People rarely get old computer viruses. They only get the new ones that are spreading.

• Install a reputable spam blocker on your computer. Some spam blockers are actually unsafe and put your computer information at risk. Ask your computer support staff or on-call technical consultant about which are helpful and which are harmful. One such program is QURB, which works well with certain systems.

• Never open e-mail attachments from unknown senders. The most dangerous virus programs come disguised as otherwise friendly looking e-mails.

• Never download software that a Web site indicates you “must have.” Often, these are “spyware.” As the name indicates, spyware is software that installs itself on your computer and reports all of your Internet habits back to a company.
• Separate business computing from family computing. This is particularly important to small businesses.

• Do not download music from sites that claim free or reduced charges. These sites have been deemed illegal. Additionally, much of the music files are riddled with viruses and spyware components. Often there is little to do to fix an infected computer and the cure may involve the expense of having a technician “scrubbing” your computer clean and reinstalling all of your programs.

About the Authors
Gina Furia Rubel, Esquire is founder and president of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc. (www.furiarubel.com) which offers corporate communications services to the legal industry. A Philadelphia lawyer with more than a decade of integrated communications experience, Gina Rubel is focused on her passion for proactive, integrated communication for lawyers. For more information call 215-249-4977 or e-mail gina@furiarubel.com.

John Miriello, MCSE, MCT is a partner in Intrepid Technology & Consulting (www.intrepidtc.com) and has more than 15 years experience in computer security and network design. Formerly a security officer and computer auditor for a variety of Philadelphia and New York Financial institutions, he now concentrates on the technology development of Philadelphia-area businesses. For more information call 215-453-6663 or e-mail jmiriello@intrepidtc.com.


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