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<xTITLE>Confidentiality and Protecting Client Data in an Online Environment</xTITLE>

Confidentiality and Protecting Client Data in an Online Environment

by Dakota Murphey
March 2021 Dakota Murphey

Protecting client confidentiality is critical, not only to protect your business’ reputation but also to adhere to strict legislation around safeguarding data. To cybercriminals, legal firms present a valuable target, with intellectual property, client information, and other sensitive data at risk. As a result, online data security should be a top priority for any law firm. From ethical obligations to leveraging technology, here are some ways to maintain confidentiality for your clients.

Limit access

Mitigation firms handle a lot of confidential information, so it’s vital that employee access is limited to a strictly ‘need to know’ basis. In doing this, firms can strengthen their legal position and reduce the risk of a breach of confidentiality. Consider whether documents have to be printed and, where possible, maintain digital copies on a secure system that is password-protected, making sure that computer access is monitored carefully.

Secure devices

One of the biggest risks to litigation firms is through devices and communication tools, so vulnerabilities in this area need to be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent a data breach. Ensure that emails are encrypted, that any work carried out by staff remotely is done via devices that use hard disk encryption, and that anti-virus software and firewalls are used to protect information. Mesh Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, should also be used to encrypt internet traffic. 

Have an assessment process in place

It’s important to have an assessment process that will help you identify and evaluate risks connected to your firm. When risks are identified, you can determine the best course of action and address any security weaknesses that make your business vulnerable to an attack. Penetration testing can be used to assess your computer networks, applications and internal systems that may pose a security risk, allowing you the opportunity to strengthen these systems going forward. 

Protect data during transmission

Mitigation firms need to consider how data remains secure when being sent to other servers. You’ll need far more than just a secure password to protect data from security theft, so it’s essential to consider the protection you have in place when running a business. Secure Socket Layers (SSL) is necessary to encrypt data transferred through websites, eliminating the risk of unauthorized access, while a standard network protocol, Secure File Transfer Protocol or SFTP provides one of the best methods for transferring data from one host to another. SFTP ensures that access to the server is required before it can be used, for added security when you’re transferring, editing or copying files. 

Prioritize education

Education is critical when protecting client data, so ensure that staff are trained on all matters related to data confidentiality in an online environment. Employees need to understand the technologies they are using, the policies in place to protect client data, and the best practices so that they can work towards a more secure system. Litigation firms need to operate on, and promote, security best practices and good governance, and all members of staff need to be on board in order for that to be successful. This education can’t be a one-time occurrence either - as technology and data risks change, the training provided to staff needs to be updated to ensure that staff are always working in an optimal way. 

Make use of the cloud

Cloud technology offers security by its very design, with automated backups, daily malware scans and in-transit encryption. Your team doesn’t need to spend time and money unnecessarily updating software, as your cloud provider does this automatically, and there’s enhanced compatibility with other applications and software tools. Cloud-based solutions are scalable so as your firm’s needs evolve over time, the technology adapts accordingly, reducing the risk that your business will fall victim to legacy systems that don’t provide the same level of security that they once did. 

Conclusion

Protecting the data of your clients, and your firm’s, is both an ethical and legal obligation. Understanding the best practices and your responsibilities when you’re holding sensitive data can help you identify areas where you might be at risk of a cybersecurity attack, while also improving the efficiency and systems within your business. Many of the tools and applications available to protect sensitive information also streamline your business processes, such as keeping files on the cloud which provides easy access from any location as well as maintaining heightened security. 

 

Biography


Dakota Murphey draws inspiration from established law firms such as George Ide site. For more information on Child-inclusive mediation, visit their website here.



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