Trust is the pillar of the legal profession, which is why attorneys are obligated to take every possible measure to safeguard the confidentiality of their clients’ data. If law firms fail to secure their communications, they risk losing clients, severely damaging their reputations, and even facing legal consequences themselves.
Although the law is vague when explaining exactly which measures must be taken to protect client confidentiality, it does stipulate that practitioners need to exercise “reasonable efforts” to prevent the unauthorized or inadvertent disclosure of private information. Although data encryption isn’t an explicit requirement, it is the smartest and most sensible option for those in the legal industry. Here’s why:
How does encryption work?
Encryption is hardly a new technology. Rather, it’s a subset of cryptography, which has been used since ancient times. The process has moved far beyond simple ciphers to complex algorithms that are simply impossible to crack, even with a supercomputer making millions of attempts per second. The advanced encryption standard (AES) was established in 2001 and remains the worldwide standard.
You may see software tools list encryption based on the number of bits: 128, 192, or 256. Without going into complicated mathematics, data encrypted using the AES-256 standard has 1077 possible combinations, making it impossible to crack.
Even with all the computing resources in the world working together, it would still take longer than the estimated lifespan of the universe. And it’s just one of the seven layers of cybersecurity every small business should employ.
Keeping client records safe
Although even the most patient of brute-force attackers might run out of patience after a couple of million years, there’s still a little more to keeping client records safe than simply encrypting your data. One human error could mess the whole thing up.
For example, most of today’s cyberattacks rely on social engineering tactics to exploit human ignorance rather than technology itself. If implemented correctly, it’s impossible for attackers to break into encrypted data using current or even theorized technology unless they have the encryption key. So even if an attorney emailed the wrong person a sensitive document, it would be inaccessible.
However, forgetting to encrypt a file or communications channel that contains confidential data is a common problem. In the case of law firms, hackers may target unencrypted emails and instant messages, which is why you should enable automatic end-to-end encryption for all your communications and prevent potential data breaches caused by forgetful users.
Sending emails, files, or documents to someone outside your firm requires a type of encryption specific to data “in transit.” Data also needs to be encrypted “at rest,” which refers to files sitting unused on a computer, phone, or any other data-bearing device. From a technical perspective, they are different but both improve network security by making your data unreadable to those who want to do your firm harm.
Empowering the mobile workforce
Now that most lawyers use smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices for work, it has become more important than ever to secure data wherever it resides. This is especially the case for businesses with a largely mobile workforce, one of the fastest-growing trends in the sector.
Combined with other measures, such as centralized access control and round-the-clock monitoring, encryption can keep confidential data under lock and key in practically any eventuality. This isn’t just a matter of protecting your data, it’s also about empowering employees with the ability to safely use the latest technology and work from anywhere using any encrypted device with an internet connection.
Spectrumwise works with legal practitioners to help them protect their technological resources with seven layers of security, including data encryption. Call us today to get started.