Are You Guilty of Failing to Ensure Your Law Firm’s Data Security?
As an attorney, you often find yourself working with good people facing difficult circumstances. Your role is to help them come through those situations as whole as possible. However, if you’re failing to ensure your law firm’s data security, you are running the risk of putting your clients into even worse shape than they came to you in!
Guilty or Not Guilty?
In his book, The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, Daniel J. Solove points out the amount of trust that people now feel they have to have in businesses – including yours! – when they share their personal information:
“People must rely on the good graces of companies that possess their data to keep it secure and to prevent its abuse. They have no say in how much money and effort will be allocated to security; no say in which employees get access; and no say in what steps are taken to ensure that unscrupulous employees do not steal or misuse their information…”
If you are failing to ensure that you can be trusted to protect your clients’ personal information, you are putting your clients in an extremely vulnerable position. They may never know (nor ask!) what steps you are taking to safeguard them.
But do you know? Or are you unknowingly guilty of putting your clients (and yourself!) at risk?
What’s At Risk?
When you consider the potential fallout of your clients’ information getting into the hands of the wrong person, it should quickly become crystal clear why it’s so important that you are taking every precaution to protect it.
However, not only could the damage be astronomical for your clients, but there are very real reasons for you to also make the efforts in order to protect yourself, as well:
- It’s the law…
There are numerous regulations and organizations that impose firm boundaries regarding the proper handling and disposal of private information. For example, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) is designed to guard consumers against identity theft. In addition, some cities and states put forth their own laws that clearly identify their expectations for the protection of their citizens’ personal data.
- Ignorance is not bliss…
When it comes to data security, not knowing the laws won’t protect you from prosecution. This is why it’s so important that you partner with a data security company that is up-to-date with and abides by the document destruction standards that your law firm must abide by. You have enough on your plate to worry about already… don’t add the risk of jail time to the list!
- Speaking of Jail Time…
Shocking as it may sound, jail time is a real possibility for those who fail to ensure their law firm’s data security. When you stop and think about it, the level of private information that you and those in your office have access to is staggering. If the right information fell (even accidentally!) into the wrong hands, you could likely imagine a scenario where jail time could be a considered consequence!
- Consider the Cost…
Even if the mismanagement of data didn’t warrant time behind bars, the penalties that could be leveled against your firm and the business lost due to your tarnished reputation and damaged trust could be almost as devastating! If you haven’t realized it before, now would be a good time to think about what whether your data security policy is adequately protecting you and your firm from these potential consequences!
You Have the Right to Remain Compliant
Knowing what’s at stake, you really do not want to be on the wrong side of the law on data security. Stay up-to-date about privacy laws & regulations so that you can ensure your law firm’s compliance with them. Understand what information is private and then take the steps necessary to keep it that way:
- Create and actively maintain a detailed policy regarding private information handling and disposal.
- Train your employees on the ins and outs of proper data security.
- Consider implementing a shred-all policy.
- Partner with a reliable shredding company that can knows (and can help you understand) applicable data security policies.
- Conduct regular security assessments in partnership with your shredding company to identify vulnerable areas that may put your data security at risk.
- Your workplace is full of confidential paperwork. Install secure document disposal containers from your document destruction company to help ensure a secure chain of custody.
The Risks Don’t Stop At Paperwork
With all the talk about document security and destruction, you must also recognize that there are items other than paperwork that may also contain sensitive data. From obsolute computers, smartphones, copy machines, and data transfer tools, a policy is essential to identify the appropriate treatment of these items, as well.
Even if you recycle or attempt to erase, wipe or degauss sensitive contents, it is still possible to retrieve the data after the fact. This is why you must ensure that the hardware is completely and irreversibly destroyed. Your clients – and your business – depend on it! Partnering with a data security company that adheres to the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) provides an additional layer of protection for your firm.