With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
January 24, 2017
These days, you literally have the power to access any document in your law office through your cell phone, table, or laptop. Client files and communications may be accessed by touching a few characters on the keyboard. It is very convenient and makes staying on top of things much easier, but there are also risks. What happens if that device is lost or stolen? Will your password provide the necessary protection to keep your client data safe?
When lawyers think about the security of their computerized data, the first things to come to mind may be virus protection, firewalls, and data back-ups. These are all very important, but the security of end-user devices is just as important. I recently attended an excellent CLE presented by Lawyer’s Mutual that opened my eyes to additional cybersecurity issues lawyers must be aware of and reminded me of Comment No. 8 to N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 quoted below:
 To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
Keeping abreast of the benefits and risks associated with the technology relevant to the lawyer’s practice, likely includes being aware of how someone could gain access to mobile devices and how to adequately protect them. Several ways to protect the data on end-user devices were discussed at the CLE, including using multi-factor identification when logging into a database with confidential information and using strong passwords. But ultimately, best practice is to encrypt all laptops, mobile devices, and removable media, such as flash drives. It is worth paying an IT professional to help you now, rather than facing the headache of a costly data breach later. Along with the great power of easy and constant access to client documents comes the great responsibility as lawyers of protecting against disclosure of confidential information.