If you are a lawyer born before say 1980 you can be forgiven if you find much of today’s technology a bit baffling and difficult to keep up with, given that it seems to change on a daily basis.
On the other hand if you were born after 1980 it is highly likely that you are pretty comfortable with technology and the pace of change – you know you will not break anything if you press the wrong button. There again it is also likely that your attitude toward technology and the data you put in and take from it is a lot more relaxed – and there lies the danger.
Last year the Department for Business Innovation & Skills published its 2014 Information Security Breaches Survey. You only have to look at these headline findings from this survey of 2013 to realise that challenging times lie ahead:-
- 81% of large organisations had a security breach
- 60% of small businesses had a security breach
- 59% of respondents expect there will be more security incidents in the next year than last
Lawyers should not need reminding about how much client information they hold and how damaging much of that information can be in the wrong hands. They should fear the day that highly confidential documents and information are intercepted by hackers; the subsequent lawsuits and reputational damage will be expensive and could well put them out of business altogether.
So, notwithstanding the need to be constantly updated with what to do and what not to do when going through one’s inbox, sometimes, just sometimes perhaps a whole fresh look is needed. The issue of security should be high on everyone’s business development agenda. Lawyers must do all they can to ensure their client communications and documents are safe and accessible to no one but those for whom they are intended.
Of course, nothing is absolutely 100% secure in this world but our collective challenge is to make accessing confidential client information and data as continually difficult as it can possibly be for the criminally minded. The trouble is – more than 70% of lawyers in the UK still use email to carry confidential client information!
Paul D Stallard – Hurndall-Stallard Associates – May 2015
Paul Stallard is an independent corporate communications consultant, and advises clients on matters relating to information security and other business-critical issues.