Computer Safety & Precautions

Computer Safety

So you are sitting in front of your computer to start another day and you start sifting through the heap of emails that await you. In the process of parsing through the seemingly endless stream of messages, you come across an email with a link to a website attached to it. The message on the email states, “Get more done with less time.” The message prompts you to click on the link below to discover these useful tips. Just after clicking the link, you try to move the mouse on your computer and you notice that the cursor does not move. Then you try keyboard commands to close down the
program to no avail. All of a sudden, you see the cursor start moving, without you having to move the mouse. The cursor is heading towards the folder on your computer desktop where you keep vital files about your company’s clients. This is, without a doubt, a scenario that gives many executives and information technology professionals many sleepless nights. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to minimize the chances of having a nightmare scenario like this playing out, and keeping your computer safe.

One of the first and most obvious steps to take is to ensure that your computers have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed on them. There are some fundamentals to be mindful of regarding this basic step in protecting your computer environment. Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are designed to keep an eye out for malware that has found its way on to your computers and eliminate them. Some anti-virus and anti-malware software is savvy enough to detect programs that have aspects of malware and prevent them from running on your computers. When finding the right protection for your environment, you want to be cautious that you do not get an anti-virus or anti-spyware system that takes up resources on your computers, causing sluggish performance. The other thing to be mindful about regarding these software programs is that they only protect against “known” threats; if a malware program is not on the definitions list of the anti-virus or anti-spyware software you have, it will not detect that malicious program. The lesson: Don’t put all of your cyber-security eggs in one cyber-security basket.

In your efforts to reduce your exposure to unwanted visitors in your computer environment, make a concerted effort to people proof your computer environment. One of the first things to stress to computer users in your office is to not click on links in emails from unknown parties. The enticement to click on a link on an email is an example of a “Trojan horse” attack; these types of attack require that the user take the steps to place the malware on the computer. Many of those links contain a malicious software program to run that allows an unwanted visitor to have access to your computer and everything in it. Allowing unknown and unscreened devices to interact with the computer can have the same effect as clicking on those email links; some thumb drives and smartphones can have malicious software on them that become active the moment that you plug them into a computer. Instituting a device control policy where your employees or colleagues have to get authorization before plugging a gadget or drive into the computer can eliminate one avenue available to hackers and their attempts to access your computers.

If hackers cannot trick your employees or colleagues into opening a door for them to get into your computer environment, they will see if you have left them an opening to hop on as a member of your wi-fi network. Many computers have the ability to detect nearby wi-fi routers in your area so that you can get connected to the internet; unfortunately, it is also a way to gain access to a network of computers. That also means gaining visibility to any financial transactions that may have been processed through the router. To ensure that your interactions on the internet and on your network are not available to unwanted visitors, installing a router with encryption protocols should be highly preferred. Encryption protocols for a router are those that require a user name and password to be entered in order to gain access to the network. If you find yourself in a situation where you have a wireless router that is not encrypted, there are few steps in this link from ZDNet that can make it harder for unwanted visitors to gain access to your network.

While it is an exciting time for the internet and the plethora of devices connected to it, the right amount of vigilance and carefulness can make the journey through the internet a little less scary. If you feel that you or people you know have been harmed by another party that has gained unwanted access to your computer, feel free to reach out the Law Offices of Michael Cordova so we can determine if there is anything that can be done.

Black Friday Is Coming

 

black-friday-stampede

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and a shopper is in position for the time honored tradition in our country…standing in an optimal spot outside of a neighborhood store to be first through the door to commence Black Friday shopping. When the doors finally open, the person races through the door like they are storming a castle. Unfortunately, in the rush to get into the store, they accidentally get tripped up by another eager shopper and fall to the ground. While on the ground, other shoppers stomp over the person in a mad dash to get to the bargains. The stampede leaves them hospitalized for weeks due to massive internal injuries. What I have just described is one of the worst nightmares of a business owner on Black Friday, someone getting hurt on their premises.

In many states, business property owners have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure their premises are safe for customers. The law typically defines “reasonable” as what a person of ordinary intelligence and judgment would do under similar scenarios. There are simple steps to take in order to minimize your business’ liability in the event an injury happens; properly inspecting the premises for hazards, correcting or cleaning the hazard, or posting a warning so customers can be aware.

No one should expect a business or property owner to know of a potential hazard every second of operating hours; that’s an unrealistic expectation. Having some best practices established for an inspection of your premises falls under the category of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Create a regular checklist of the things and areas of your premises that are under your business’ control. As your business changes, the checklist might have to be amended as well to ensure you are covering all of your bases. Once you create that checklist, it’s vital to figure out how often throughout the day to inspect the premises in order to catch those potential hazards that need to be addressed.

While it is easier said than done sometimes, the next step should be figuring out how to fix or clean up the potential hazard. Keeping a good stock of household cleaning supplies is always a good idea for those messes that can cause slip-and-fall accidents. If you are in a business where stocked merchandise can cause serious harm to a customer, it may be time to rethink how and where your business stocks its merchandise. Unfortunately, there are some hazards that simple household supplies or restocking cannot remedy. Structural hazards and health problems like mold require time and financial resources to address. While you are working to address those problems, all you can do is give your customers a heads up as to what’s going on.

Giving your customers sufficient warning of a hazard on your premises can minimize liability to your business. When you think of a sufficient warning, the best practice would be to figure out what will grab a customer’s attention. If you are addressing a hazard on your premises that requires significant labor, putting a sign up stating “open during construction” and partitioning off the area of the store that needs work should be effective ways of getting your point across. If it’s a simple mess that could cause a slip and fall accident that can’t get cleaned up right way, a warning that stands out will be needed. Putting brightly colored hazard markers, like cones or a yellow “wet floor” sign, should get the message across that there is something on the floor to steer clear of or to be careful of as they navigate through your facility.

Running a business has enough hazards to be mindful, let alone the ones that can actually hurt people. While it’s impossible to eliminate all risks of physical harm from occurring on your business premises, these steps should send a clear message that you are doing what any reasonable business owner is expected to do.

However, if you have been hurt at on a business property and you suspect that the property owners may have been negligent in their duties, please contact The Law Offices of Michael Cordova to see if there is anything that can be done for you.

Making Halloween Less Scary

halloween-safetySo it’s that time of year again when youngsters of the neighborhood embark on a one night vigil, presenting themselves from house to house, in search of sweet treats. In the midst of greeting the costumed crusaders of Halloween at your house, you discover that you are quickly running short of candy. So in a rush to get ready for the next wave of trick-or-treaters, you hop into your car to quickly get to the closest supermarket. In your rush to back out of your driveway, you almost miss some small object that darts across the driveway, causing you to slam on your brakes. That small object you almost did not see was a little kid dressed up like Darth Vader. While this hypothetical situation had a happy ending, there are many times when it does not end so happy. The National Safety Council has found that the month of October ranks second to August when it comes to deaths caused by motor vehicles. This is just one of the horrors that goes through a parent’s mind as their children eagerly await the nocturnal trek around the neighborhood on Halloween. Fear not, there are some simple things that can be done to help take the fright out of trick-or-treating for parents on Halloween.

To minimize the chances of a driver and your little trick-or-treater having a frightful encounter, there are some simple, yet helpful measures you can implement. Reinforce tried and true safety tips with your kids before they go out and about on the street for Halloween night. Reminding your kids to look in both directions before crossing the street and to do so at a traffic signal or crosswalk will help to make the trick-or-treating venture less scary for all parties involved. Telling your kids to maintain eye contact with drivers on the road can be an effective way to tell them whether or not you intend to cross the street. Unfortunately, if your child has a penchant for using gadgets while walking around, making that eye contact could be a problem. You might make it a requirement that they leave the gadgets at home before embarking on their neighborhood journey for candy. When thinking of costumes, try to steer them away from costumes that might make your child obscured from the view of another vehicle or obstruct how easily your child can see things around them. It goes without saying that adult supervision is highly encouraged during your child’s annual candy vigil around the neighborhood.

The other frightening aspect of trick-or-treating for many parents are the treats themselves.  With some precautions, treats can be safe and not scary. If you want to make sure that that your kids don’t try to eat the contents of their trick-or-treat bags before they get home, give them something to snackscreen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-03-06-pm on or whip up a quick meal for them, before they embark on their Halloween journey. Some treats can have unpleasant surprises you cannot see. Stress to your kids to only take treats that have been commercially wrapped (i.e. Milky Way, Reese’s, etc.); it decreases the likelihood that the treat has been tampered with. If you have kids that are pre-school age that are going on their first trick-or-treating venture, accompany them to make sure they don’t end up with choking hazards as treats (i.e. gum, hard candies, etc.).

Hopefully these safety tips make Halloween more fun and less frightening for everyone in the family. Should you feel that your child has been harmed in some way by negligence this Halloween, feel free to reach out to the Law Offices of Michael Cordova to see what we can do to be of help.

On behalf of everyone at the Law Offices of Michael Cordova, have a safe and happy Halloween!

Your Home has Mold – Now What?

Mold

What to do when something doesn’t smell right.

Imagine that you have just moved into a spacious, high rise apartment that is not only walking distance from your job, but provides a gorgeous view of an Arizona sunrise. As you wake up to your first morning in your new apartment, you are not only greeted by the gorgeous sunrise that was advertised to you, but a hefty, earthy stench that was not advertised to you. After a lengthy investigation, you discover the stench is originating from mold near the bathroom vent. The potent stench aside, mold can pose some serious health risks for yourself and those you choose to invite over. While it was relatively easy for our hypothetical tenant to find the mold in his or her hypothetical apartment, it might not be so obvious in the real world. It is important to know to look for mold before you can raise any warning flags. If it turns out you have mold, fear not; you do have possible remediesyou can turn to should you ever have the misfortune of coming across it in your apartment.

Thee first step towards dealing with a mold problem is confirming that you have one. This newspaper site provides some simple and helpful tips towards uncovering a smelly situation. One of the first things the article says to look for is some sort of discoloration in the structure of your apartment; such structures include, but are not limited to, drywall, plywood and flooring. As stated in the hypothetical story above, if you get a whiff of an earthy, musty scent, chances are you have some mold in your apartment. Besides the smell of mold, there are physical reactions you could experience that could tip you off to the presence of mold. Such physical reactions could be headaches, a tightening of your nose, or a form of irritation when you are in the presence of mold. While toxic molds require immediate action, other molds can cause some of the symptoms covered above.

So if you find mold, you would likely ask yourself what to do next? You’re not alone if you don’t know the answer to that.  Less than one percent of 40,000 parties of eviction proceedings in one city realized there were remedies available to them when an apartment was not up to habitability standards. Many states, like Arizona, have laws that layout what a landlord’s responsibility is for keeping residences livable and the remedies available to tenants when that responsibility is not met. Arizona law requires landlords to have rental properties in compliance with applicable building codes to meet an “implied warranty of habitability.”  This warranty provides that a rental home or apartment must be a safe and livable one. If you feel that the landlord is not complying with this warranty, you can deliver a written notice that states that he or she has 5 days, within receipt of the notice, to remedy the health or safety hazard, or the landlord will be in breach of the lease. You, the tenant, also have the option of recovering damages or requiring the landlord to take action due to the breach.

While the discovery of mold in an apartment is never the most pleasant experience, it need not be a catastrophic one for you either. Just remember this check list and carefully take the next steps should you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation like this. If you suspect that your apartment or rental home is not meeting the implied warranty of habitability, feel free to reach out to the Law Offices of Michael Cordova to see what we can do to help.

Did You Help Cause the Car Accident?

distracted-driving

 

Imagine you are on the driving on the freeway during afternoon rush hour traffic.  While you are checking out email on your smartphone, someone cuts in front of you, without signaling, causing you to crash into the rear of their car.  At first glance you would think this is a clear case of fault; the other person failed to use a signal. The other driver could claim you were contributorily negligent because you were gawking at your smartphone while driving. What is contributory negligence when in a car accident? It’s behavior that increases the risk of harm to yourself or others.  This can be potentially damaging to a personal injury claim you have against the other party, even if they are clearly in the wrong.  There are some things you can do while driving that can decrease the chances of an opposing party using contributory negligence against you if you find yourself in a personal injury suit.

One way you could find yourself contributorily negligent in a car accident is if you have a penchant for exceeding the speed limit by a significant amount.  There are a number of things you can do that can help you ease off the gas while on the road.  One way you can reduce the need for speed is by giving yourself extra time to get to your destination; doing so will allow you to compensate for unforeseen events like traffic jams and unexpected road closures that could cause you to take a path which is longer than the one you planned out.  Being patient is easier said than done, but finding a way to temper impatience could help shield you from sharing the blame in an accident.  Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and playing more easy going music have been known to help drivers exercise more patience than not.

If you have been on the road for a prolonged period of time, fatigue can cause costly mental errors you would never imagine doing when fully energized.  If you anticipate having to take a long road trip, try taking pre and mid-drive naps.  It goes without saying there are benefits to getting a good night’s sleep, but when that it isn’t possible, taking a short nap before taking off should increase your road awareness.  Taking advantage of rest stops along the way should help; take a 20 minute, mid-trip nap to help you make it the rest of the way without dozing off.  It never hurts to travel with someone either; having a travel buddy to tag along with you can allow you to make the long drive in shifts, so that both of you get an equal chance to stay rested.  If all else fails, try coffee.  The good news about coffee: the caffeine will enhance your alertness for a few hours.  The bad news about coffee: the caffeine wears off after a few hours.

As much as we think we can multi-task on the road, we really can’t.  Although reducing distractions while driving can appear to be a daunting task, it can be done with a few helpful tips.  Establish a rule for yourself to only answer your phone if you suspect it’s an emergency.  If you’re a person that just has to pick up your phone when it rings, try putting on silent while you’re driving.   If your car is set up for Bluetooth, sync your smart phone to your car’s Bluetooth system.  However, if you have a new car, fiddling with the radio or other buttons on your dashboard can take your eyes off the road for a longer period of time than you think.  Before you take off for a trip of any length, take some time to get familiar with layout of your car’s dashboard so button pressing becomes more instinctual while you drive.  Limiting the use of your rearview mirror to keep an eye out for traffic and not for grooming or getting dressed will go a long ways towards keeping you focused on the road.

Hopefully these tips will not only protect you from potential liability in an automotive accident, they will go a long way towards making the roads a little bit safer for everyone.
If you are ever in an automotive accident and you suspect the other driver’s negligence caused it, please reach out the Law Offices of Michael Cordova for a free consultation.