The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings have forced courts, law firms, and legal service providers to confront their capability in allowing attorneys and staff to work remotely. During a recent New York State Bar Association webinar cybersecurity, data privacy and data technology experts discussed tips for working securely, while working remotely.
A few tips from the experts that presented at Wednesday’s Cyber-Protect Your Firm When You Work From Home, on what law firms and attorneys need to consider so that they can continue to service clients while avoiding cybersecurity risks inherent to remote lawyering.
What Firms Should Be Doing
Benjamin Franklin is noted for saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
The first thing firms should do is to ensure that they have the necessary digital workspaces, more often referred to as Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and that attorneys and staff have been properly trained. VPNs allow users to create a secure connection to another network over an internet connection but more importantly, they allow users to access critical documents, email, and work-related applications safely and securely.
Firms should also consider expanding licenses with their conference and video conference vendors so that attorneys can reliably and securely conduct business as usual. Remind attorneys the dangers of using free services, many of which aren’t secure and could record and store conversations and meetings leaving them out of the firm’s control and protection.
Prepare Your Workforce
The panelists agreed that regardless of how high-tech or secure the applications or services firms have to allow for remote work if attorneys and staff aren’t properly trained a privacy disaster is inevitable.
In an age when more and more people are looking for a clear work-life balance, firms shouldn’t assume that personal cell phone numbers have been shared among colleagues. So something as simple as a department list of cellphones should be created as a communication backup.
Remote Working From Home
By now, most businesses and schools are adhering to social distancing and restrictions on large gatherings, for a remote attorney that likely for attorneys with families or associates still living at home, there is the potential that family members could access your at-home device.
Experts agree that something as simple as setting up different profiles on your device for members of your family can go a long way in making sure that any unsafe or risky use can keep client information safe.
Through the duration of the remote-working period, there will be a strain on your firm’s IT Department. If remote work is new for your firm and had been used by a small number of attorneys, adding more users to your VPN will make your system more vulnerable and it’s imperative that IT is monitoring for abnormalities.
Following these tips from distinguished experts in cybersecurity and data privacy will give your firm and attorneys the proper tools to succeed while pivoting to a work-from-home policy.