Legal firms, large and small, all share similar IT concerns.
The nature of your work means you face an extra level of stress when it comes to IT management.
You must ensure your sensitive data is kept secure and available at all times should it compromise confidentiality, affect regulatory compliance or blow months (or even years) of hard work apart because of an employee or technological oversight.
Here is a list of the top 10 things you can and should be doing within your organisation to mitigate the risks associated with handling sensitive client data.
Make sure all sensitive data stored and transferred between internal machines is secured with enterprise-grade encryption. This should be implemented on a Full Disk (FDE) or folder/file level to ensure only those with the necessary authorisation codes can view and manipulate the data inside. Even if a device were compromised, the data inside is useless without the right codes.
2. Control Data Access
Implement strong password practice and two-step authentication logins for access to third-party resources (cloud software applications etc). Only ever provide access to those who really need it (including IT partners like Rapid IT). Suffice to say, never write a password on a sticky note and leave it on your monitor for a cleaner or delivery driver to happen upon.
3. Remotely Manage Devices
Implement remote data management practices for laptops, phones and tablets that may be used to manage case data. Keep software regularly updated and nominate a central data controller for their management. This way, if a device were even to be compromised, you can initiate a remote data deletion action. In that situation, all you’ve lost is a laptop, tablet or phone – not your firm’s reputation.
4. Introduce Realtime Data Backup
An obvious one. It goes without saying, you must have a regular, or even better, real-time data backup solution in place that continually stores your data securely offsite in encrypted form. This way, should you ever suffer a data loss event, an up-to-date version of the data set you are working with is available and instantly retrievable. Don’t underestimate the need for the real-time element either, it can literally save you days in billable time.
5. Implement Firewalls
Ensuring you have an active firewall installed across your key IT infrastructure can drastically reduce the risk of a data breach. A firewall acts as a barrier between a trusted network (like a local area network or LAN) and an untrusted one (like the Internet). You can setup your firewall’s intrusion detection system (IDS) or intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to analyze traffic patterns and detect suspicious activities, such as repeated login attempts, and can block or alert administrators about potential attacks. If something nefarious is trying to get in, you’ll know about it instantly.
6. Use A VPN
As a busy lawyer, you will no doubt often need access to case files when working from home, in court, or when travelling. To ensure maximum security when accessing that data remotely, you should install a VPN (virtual private network). This security measure provides a secure and encrypted bridge between your device (laptop, desktop, phone, tablet etc) and office server. This allows you and your team to securely connect to your office network from anywhere with complete peace of mind.
7. Use Only Reputable Software Providers
Trying to save money by using cheap or budget software providers for case management is about the biggest false economy there is. Cheap, like most products and services in life, is cheap for a reason. Costs have been reduced somewhere – and in software development that usually means corners cut in technology, contingencies, resources and staff. Less reputable software platforms are most likely littered with security flaws and gaping holes. Don’t go anywhere near them.
8. Train Your Staff
As simple as it sounds. You must ensure all staff, partners and co-workers understand the criticality of protecting the data they are working with day-to-day. You all have an ethical duty to protect client confidentiality and the integrity of a case. Failing to uphold this obligation due to a data breach can lead to severe professional repercussions, including disbarment or even disciplinary action. Put protocols and guides in place. Implement. Educate. Enforce.
9. Plan For Breaches
Not something anyone likes, but essential for actively swiftly. If you are prepared, you can minimise the impact of a data breach and recover more efficiently. To mitigate, you and your IT services partner should carry out regular risk assessments – identifying potential vulnerabilities in the firm’s IT infrastructure, software and data handling process. You should also develop a data breach response plan with detailed steps that can be taken immediately after a breach has occurred – including details about how to isolate and contain the incident, company communication strategies to those affected and operation recovery protocols. Get your process written down and documented. Know it inside and out, because every second counts.
10. Conduct Regular Security Checks
Are you sure your software is running on the latest update? Confident your firewall or network has the most optimised security setting? One of the most common sources of data breach or corruption is out of date software and security settings. Make it company protocol to regularly test your system for vulnerabilities and isolate areas for attention or concern. Early detection is crucial for avoiding later pain. Of course, a way to mitigate this challenge is to work with a managed services provider who will continuously monitor and manage your network for you.
This is by no means a complete list. There are also additional measures you can take including regular premises security checks, vendor assessments, ‘bring your own device’ protocols etc.
However, anything you can do to provide an extra level of security should be considered. You are only as strong as your weakest link.
If you are a legal firm looking for managed it services in Fort Lauderdale, please get in touch with one of our IT engineers. They will be happy to discuss any concerns you may have about your office setup and operational practices to build a robust and bulletproof IT security plan.
Request your free IT audit today here: Managed IT Services Quote