Confidentiality is a big part of running a successful law firm. Clients won’t trust a lawyer who can’t protect their privacy. And yet, as many law firms continue the transition to digital processes, they forget that this can put themselves and their clients at risk too.
New technological developments have allowed law firms to adopt more efficient processes. Nowadays, most law firms use digital devices and online services to process and store their documents and other data. Many use cloud services as their primary storage option, but even those can be breached. Plus, any data on their devices or even the devices themselves, like laptops, can be stolen.
Attorneys and lawyers deal with tons of digital information, so they have to know how to secure that data too. Encryption is a law firm’s best defense against the violation of their or their clients’ privacy. This is how a law firm can protect sensitive documents, communication, and data with encryption.
1. Encrypt Emails
While email is a convenient way to send clients information and files, it is inherently insecure. Hackers can intercept emails in transit using a method called DNS hijacking. There are many places during transit when one can intercept an email if it isn’t encrypted. Because the default state of an email is plain text, anyone can see it.
When you encrypt email, then an outside attacker cannot see it even if they manage to intercept it in transit. A trustworthy email encryption tool ensures that both emails and attachments stay safe.
It doesn’t affect the client either. But it is better to ask their permission to encrypt emails first anyway. That way, the firm protects itself from liability if someone steals the email due to error on the server or the client’s side.
2. Invest in Server Encryption
If the firm has a server on which they store information, for example, one connected to their website, then they need to encrypt it as well. Most web content management systems like WordPress provide their own data servers. But it’s still important to invest in extra encryption.
Encrypting stored data (also known as data in rest), i.e., a database containing old client information, is a primary digital security practice. There are several encryption options, depending on how and where you store that data. You can use third-party services that provide server encryption as well as tools that offer volume (drive) encryption.
3. Encrypt Internet Connections
One of the biggest threats to any law firm is someone hacking their network. Cybercriminals can make this happen, both through a flaw in the network as well as one in any connected devices. That includes both laptops and mobile devices like smartphones that people use for work purposes as well. The best way to deal with this is to use a VPN.
What is a VPN? It’s a virtual private network that encrypts internet connection and thus protects any data sent over that connection. It also anonymizes the connection by masking the IP address. It ensures that malicious actors can’t identify and specifically target the user.
A VPN is a good option for law firms in general, but especially for those who have people that work from home or public spaces like coffee shops. Once installed and turned on, it keeps outsiders from stealing any information even if the network they connect to isn’t secure.
4. Use an Encrypted Storage Option
A lot of law firms already rely on cloud storage options to store their data. But not all storage solutions were created equal. If the employees save data on the cloud, then the firm has to ensure it’s a reliable service that employs robust encryption software.
Moreover, strong password policies should ensure the cloud login details are secure. There’s no sense in using an encrypted cloud service if the password is easy to steal or lose by accident anyway.
5. Encrypt Devices and Important Apps or Folders
Device theft is always a risk too. And it goes with the risk of having any data on the device stolen. “Encrypting” a smartphone or computer can be as easy as setting up a password or biometric lock. Of course, it can be a bit more complicated if you choose to install additional authentication software.
There’s also the option to encrypt any files or apps that contain confidential data. Some devices already do this, while for others, you need third-party encryption software.
It’s of utmost importance that law firms take the necessary steps to ensure their data stays safe. Whether that be client information or documents, company records or bills, or any other data the firm deals with every month. To do that, they should rely on encryption to protect their data.