Mobility is a key factor in attorneys’ collective quest to boost efficiency, billable hours, and client service. Although about 66% of lawyers have a traditional “brick and mortar” law office, most spend an increasing amount of time working outside of it, according to the American Bar Association’s TECHREPORT 2017.
The report notes that 77% of lawyers surveyed regularly work from home, 33% regularly work while traveling, and 20% regularly work onsite at a client’s office or in court. Nearly one-third of those surveyed telecommute at least once a week, the report adds.
None of that would be possible, of course, without mobile technology. Attorneys who travel often take advantage of cloud-based solutions including voice recognition and transcription applications, for example. Such applications let attorneys record notes, send them back to the office, and retrieve completed documents straight from their smartphones. Yet even as firms enjoy the benefits of a more mobile workforce, they must ensure client confidentiality by prioritizing their data security efforts.
To put things in context: Five years ago, network security was one of the biggest technology concerns law firms faced. Firewalls were built to allow individuals in—or keep individuals out—of the network itself. Today, however, the focus has shifted to data security.
To enable greater mobility and security measures, the goal at many legal firms is to use the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to move applications offsite entirely. That requires securing the very data that exists not just within the network, but on numerous mobile devices and in cloud storage environments.
To keep highly sensitive client and firm information from falling into unauthorized hands, here are six tips to safeguard data and hold mobile hackers at bay:
- Assess your data. This crucial first step is often somewhat overlooked. The questions to ask include more than just, “What data are we generating?” In addition, ask yourself: How are we currently protecting it? Where does it exist? How might it travel?
- Update and enforce your telecommuting policies and procedures. Be sure to create protocols about how and where employees are allowed to access, share, review, and store files. Then ensure compliance. Even the best protections only work if the staff are regularly trained and tested for data security compliance.
- Encrypt your data at every level. All devices and software used—from laptops, to voice recorders and apps, to transcription devices—should ensure data is encrypted when it’s being recorded, while it’s being stored, and any time it’s being transmitted. A voice recorder app, for example, should encrypt each recording file. But that is only the first step. A voice file should then be integrated with a secure dictation management platform that encrypts it again when it’s transferred to the cloud, and yet again when it’s stored.
- Put devices’ USB ports in read-only mode. The idea here is to prevent people from removing confidential information from a device by connecting another device (e.g., a flash drive) via a USB port.
- Require two-step authentication to access the network. This tried-and-true security protocol is a must, as is implementing PIN codes for authors on all mobile phones and other devices. Mandate that passwords be changed routinely; every 90 days is recommended.
- Leverage data security professionals. Consider allowing an app provider to securely house your data for you. You may also want to consult with a data protection/cybersecurity company. When working with any technology vendor, be sure to investigate their data security track record. Don’t be afraid to ask about their history of data breaches.
Enabling mobility can help increase attorneys’ productivity and satisfaction; it’s a win/win scenario. With the right security measures in place to keep data safe and confidential, firms can improve their efficiency and client service by confidently embracing telecommuting and other offsite work opportunities.