While law practice management software helps to make office and case management more simplistic by using a cloud-based system to share files, the potential for hackers to gain access to information on the server is just as high as on a traditional system. Hackers seek to gain access to servers with client information in both the medical and legal profession as a way to exploit both the firm and the client. Although securing your networking can be expensive, the potential of exposing a database can cost the entire firm. It is estimated that currently, 25% of law firms experience a breach of security a year, a number which will inevitably grow as hackers learn new ways to breach systems.
Attorneys have certain duties that accompany the attorney-client relationship, including the duty to provide competent representation, duty of diligence, and the duty to keep information confidential. The duty to keep client-provided information confidential does not only apply to those communications made between the attorney and client verbally, but also those sent in emails and other forms of official documentation, as required by the American Bar Association. Depending on the state, there are various statutes in place that require law firms to provide general security measures for clients’ personal data, including name, address, social security number, and financial account numbers.
Law firms can take a number of different measures in order to avoid a cyber attack. Some of these measures include having manual backups for systems containing client data be offline, frequent employee training over proper entry for specific client information, keeping control of the encryption key if the firm uses cloud storage or cloud based software, maintaining restrictive remote access for phones and computers used by employees outside of the office, as well as keeping a log of data in the event of a breach. If cloud based software is used, having a breach or disaster recovery process is imperative in order to allow your case work to continue. Lastly, depending upon the area of law you practice in, there many be additional information about the client and case that you seek to secure. Assessing the needs of the client during this process will help your firm be transparent and accountable.
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(image courtesy of Luis Llerena)