tion. 13 Failure to secure such data from
malicious employees, cyber-attacks, or
carelessness can cause drastic reputa-tional damage as well as liability.
Practical Suggestions to
Reduce the Opportunity for
Notwithstanding the large number of
opportunities for trouble with technology, there are practical ways to reduce
your risk. Again, these examples are
not meant to be exhaustive. We’ve divided these tips into four categories.
Lawyers and their staff — on a daily
basis — often deal with vast amounts
of confidential or sensitive information.
It used to be that the physical form of
the data imposed obvious transaction costs that tended to minimize the
potential for loss, theft, or corruption.
However, digital data — which is now
the vast majority of client data —is mobile and readily recordable at astonishingly low costs. Accordingly, the risk
for loss, theft, or corruption is substantially greater and continues to grow.
Client data and firm data, need to be
safeguarded from loss, theft, and corruption. There are practices to address
Minimize. Obviously, you have no
obligations for data you do not have.
But because lawyers tend to squirrel
away data, and online data tends to stay
online forever, this strategy has limited application. But for those who wish
to reduce risk and minimize security
costs, it’s an option. Your records management practice should be disciplined
and cognizant of changing technology.
Protect. Okay, you’re not going to
minimize. We get it. Fortunately, there
are strategies to reduce risk to the data
that you retain:
• Use firewalls, current antivirus soft-
ware, strong passwords, and other
• Practice safe data disposal — e.g.,
remove hard drives and memory
devices from scrapped, sold, or
• For off-site data (e.g., cloud computing), use reputable providers, with
robust data security and redundancy
practices (and insurance).
• Back up your data — including the
easy stuff such as networked computers as well as your mobile devices.
• Password protect sensitive documents and encrypt confidential information.
Keep Current. Technology evolves
quickly. Although it is sensible to avoid
the bleeding edge, it is important to stay
abreast of changing technology (e.g.,
Boeing, for example, recently announced
a high-security smartphone). Simply
said, you shouldn’t just buy a Palm Pilot
and fax machine and call it done.
Mobile devices (e.g., laptops, tablets,
smartphones, data drives) and data mobility are inextricably connected. These
– DEMETRI HELIOTIS
Attorney at Law
In 1994, 800,000 people were
slaughtered in 100 days in Rwanda. Twelve
years later, the United Nations was still
sorting out the legal issues involved
in this genocide. I was privileged
with a clerkship at that tribunal. My
involvement at the UN confirmed my
Passion to Fight Injustice.
But injustice isn’t always massive, and
it can happen anywhere. I recently
defended someone falsely accused
of domestic violence. At trial, the
complaining witness took the stand.
My rigorous cross-examination proved
the entire story was a lie. The judge
called a recess. The prosecution dismissed
the case. After months of hardship, my
client got justice.