Protecting sensitive client information is critical to success in the legal field. The increasing prevalence of online data storage has made this even more important for attorneys and law firms. Some practices address this problem by avoiding all digital data storage and maintaining paper copies of their files only. This may provide a temporary security solution for some law firms. As more courts and legal agencies move toward online filings, however, protecting client data can become much more challenging for law firms without the technological background necessary to manage security effectively.

Challenges for Legal Security

An opinion issued in 2011 by the American Bar Association explained the duty of confidentiality, which requires attorneys to “act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client.” This includes using the appropriate measures to protect physical copies of data from access by unauthorized parties. Attorneys and law firms must also implement adequate protection for data stored on servers and devices and transmitted to courts, clients and other recipients. All of these activities must be performed in compliance with federal and state regulations and in accordance with the highest standards of ethics.

Safeguarding Physical Documents

In general, taking a few simple steps can ensure greater security for physical files and information stored in your brick-and-mortar law offices. Locking file cabinets and doors, security systems and proper staff training are all good steps toward a safer and more secure environment for your team and your legal documents. Restricting access to legal information to those with a need to know within your organization is another prudent precaution when protecting documents in your legal office.

Implementing Cybersecurity Measures

The right digital security measures will protect sensitive information and confidential data from unauthorized access or disclosure. Your cybersecurity plan should include some or all of the following components:

• Disk, data and email encryption methods that render the information unreadable for those who might otherwise intercept your online communications. Securing these methods of transmitting and storing data can provide real help in keeping your client’s information safe and secure.

• Two-factor authentication adds a layer of protection for online accounts. This requires an additional step, usually a code sent directly to your smartphone or app, to access password-protected data. By activating this feature in emails, storage systems and cloud access points, you can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your client’s data by those outside your organization.

• Installing all updates for your computer as recommended will ensure that security vulnerabilities are addressed in a timely manner. This is necessary to prevent the exploitation of these weaknesses to access sensitive information on your computer systems.

Proper staff training will also go a long way toward protecting your client’s data and preventing unauthorized individuals from gaining access to sensitive information through your computer systems.

Complying with HIPAA Regulations

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, more commonly referred to as HIPAA, sets standards for the treatment and protection of electronic health information. If your legal team acts as a Business Associate for HIPAA Covered Entities, you are required to implement data protection measures and to sign an agreement that limits the uses of the health information you receive from your clients. You must also secure your networks and devices and implement malware protections for your servers. All emails that contain patient information must be properly encrypted. Your data centers, cloud service providers and other IT support companies must all be selected from among HIPAA-certified firms.

At the Di Lauri & Hewitt Law Group, we offer defense representation for individuals, business owners and corporate entities to ensure the best possible outcomes for your cases. Our attorneys can deliver the assertive and effective civil litigation services you need to achieve the highest degree of success in your endeavors. Call us today at 973-354-5783 to schedule a consultation with our team. We are here to take on your legal challenges now and in the future.

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