Cybersecurity may seem like the last item on a long list of things to think about when running a law firm and practicing law. What you may not realize is that your company is vulnerable right now, as you read this, if basic best practices for data and information security have not been implemented. The purpose of this guide is to help you understand the issues and trends affecting law firms, as well as to provide you with simple, practical resources to protect yourself and your clients. This guide will discuss cybersecurity and the common issues and risks that law firms face when using technology.

In general, the technology tools discussed here are recommended — if not required — for effective practice in today’s legal market. However, if you do not understand the best practices for using these technology tools, you may end up jeopardizing your practice and endangering your clients.

What Could Go Wrong

A modern law office must adhere to the Underlying Principles of Professional Responsibilities. You have the following fundamental responsibilities if you use mobile devices or cloud services:

1. Maintain Confidentiality

You have a general obligation to keep all client information private. This guide will go over various ways that digital information can be exposed, and you must ensure that you are maintaining confidentiality in a digital environment.

2. Competence

One of the things you must do as part of your obligation to provide competent representation is to stay current on technological advancements.

3. Supervise Your Staff

This is true regardless of your connection to the Internet, but you have a responsibility to adequately supervise your staff. In terms of cybersecurity, this means that you should make sure they are following best practices. It also means that you should be aware of any devices that are being used to access or store client data.

Cloud-Computing Explained

Cloud computing refers to various types of computing resources (such as applications and storage) that a service provider makes available for convenient, on-demand network access. Although the term “cloud” implies something magical or ethereal, cloud computing is simply a type of service that makes use of large, centralized data centers for computing resources. Amazon AWS, Google Docs, and Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of cloud computing. Many firms that provide legal services provide cloud services.

Cloud storage is a common type of cloud service. Cloud storage is a simple way to “store, access, and share data over the Internet.”  In other words, it is a method of electronically storing data so that it is accessible at any time and from any location. When you use a cloud-storage service, you pay a company to store your data on its servers rather than on your computer’s hard drive or a networked server that you must maintain. OneDrive for Business, Google Drive for Business, and Dropbox are all examples of cloud storage.

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Key Considerations for Secure Data

Using a cloud service (rather than storing data on your own server or hard drive) could be an excellent security option for solo and small-firm practitioners. There are a few key considerations when choosing a cloud service. You should apply these principles regardless of whether you use the cloud or your own storage.

8 In exceptional circumstances, your practice area may necessitate an exception. Because cloud storage means that data is stored on the servers of a third party, you should avoid using a cloud service if you are concerned about government surveillance of any kind. This is an exceptional case, and you should consult with a technology expert to develop a protocol that meets your needs.

You’re still responsible for local security

You are still responsible for the security of your local devices and the portion of the network you use to connect to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as Frontier, Comcast, or CenturyLink, whether you use cloud or hosted services.

If you work from home or share a physical office with other lawyers from another firm, you should have a firewall and use it to divide your networks into separate virtual local area networks (vLAN). A firewall is a device or program that controls the flow of network traffic between two networks or between a device and a network that have different security postures.

Keep Your Systems Updated

You must ensure that your devices’ operating systems are up to date with the most recent security patches. If you use a Windows computer, for example, you should be using a supported version of Windows (typically Windows 10). If you’re using a Mac, make sure you’re running the most recent version of macOS. If you access the hosted services from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, the operating system should be the most recent version. Some people avoid installing the most recent security patches because they believe it will make their computer slower or less efficient. Patches can occasionally cause temporary computing errors. However, those security patches are critical for addressing known vulnerabilities on your devices, so you should always take advantage of available security upgrades.

Use an Anti-Malware Program

Malware is malicious code that is inserted into another program without the user’s knowledge with the intent to destroy your data, run malicious programs, or otherwise compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of your data and devices.10 Windows 10 includes built-in anti-malware software (Windows Defender), and third-party anti-malware solutions are available for macOS and Android systems.

Encrypt Wherever You Can

The data you are saving must be encrypted. Encryption is a method of protecting data from prying eyes. At its most basic, encryption is a method of making it difficult and time-consuming for unauthorized parties to gain access to information. It works by encoding information so that it is meaningless to anyone who does not have the encryption “key.”

Are You Looking For A Computer Security Service You Can Finally Trust?

Managed Technology Solutions, also known as ManagedTEK – IT Security Services & Monitoring, is a managed service provider that provides IT support and security solutions for businesses throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. ManagedTEK, was founded on an urgency to empower and protect our community from the digital war on personal security and privacy. We focus and specialize in protecting businesses from falling victim to increasingly complex cyber threats. We use cutting-edge technology along with proven cybersecurity practices to provide support and protection for small businesses. Contact us today for your free consultation!