Laptops, smartphones, and flash drives save lawyers from packing heavy briefcases stuffed with paperwork. However, this convenience comes with a price — the security risks are substantial. According to William Quick, a sole practitioner in Clayton, MO who teaches and lectures on technology topics, “Identity theft is a mushrooming problem that Congress and the states have been trying to deal with any way they can.”
6 Security Steps
Quick steps to take to keep your devices secure:
- Be careful not to lose the device in the first place. Pay close attention to where your equipment is.
- Have a written plan that details your firm’s action if a data breach should happen.
- Only keep what you need. Decide what information has to be saved and then back up your data to a secure location on a regular basis.
- Lock your computer when you are away.
- Encrypt all devices – most statues don’t require you to inform your clients of encrypted data breach.
- Invest in back-up-plan software. Some software allows you to protect your data security after the fact.
If you lose your equipment and someone obtains this information, you need to alert potentially affected parties of the loss – and that’s a lot easier said than done. It may also land you in some hot legal water (at several hundred bucks an hour, there really is no other water temperature in the legal world), because 46 states have data breach laws. So there could be some liability issues that come up.
The bottom line? Convenience is optional; solid security protection is not. Do what you need to do – as inconvenient as it may be – to avoid the pain, regret and possible litigation that comes with losing data. Your briefcase may be heavier…but your peace of mind will be much, much lighter.