4 Cybersecurity Tips For Lawyers

This week’s Bar View guest author is Nicole Black. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and are not intended to represent those of the MCBA or its board of trustees.

By Nicole Black, Esq.
Nicole black

In the 21st century, technology has changed at an incredible rate. Sometimes the pace of change can seem overwhelming, especially for lawyers trying to manage their busy practices. Learning about and implementing new technologies into law practices can often be a difficult task–one that is complicated by ethical obligations which require that clients’ confidential information remain secure.

The good new is that there are steps you can take to increase your firm’s cybersecurity. Here are a few tips to get you on the path to having a more secure law firm.

1. Update your law firm’s software regularly

It’s imperative to update your software regularly in order to ensure that it is secure. Software updates often fix known security issues and if you fail to update your software, you may be unknowingly exposing all of your law firm’s data. That’s why it’s recommended that you enable automatic software updates for your firm’s software. And if you use cloud-based software for your law firm, you’re in luck! Your cloud-based software provider will automatically update your law firm software, ensuring that it is always up-to-date and secure.

2. Use secure communication tools

In the mid-90s, email was given the green light by legal ethics committees and lawyers began to use email to communicate confidential information to clients. That was then, this is now. Although it still is ethically permissible for lawyers to use email to share information that is not particularly sensitive, email is nevertheless outdated and unsecure by today’s standards.

Fortunately, there are far more secure alternatives these days when it comes to communicating with clients. Whether it’s using the client portals built into law practice management software, encrypted email, or using encrypted voice communication tools, you now have more secure options for sharing confidential client information.

3. Make sure to use encryption

Speaking of encryption, make sure to use it for every type of communication, across all of your devices. One option is to use Whats App for communicating with clients since it offers encrypted text and voice communications. Message on your iPhone is also encrypted and is more secure than traditional SMS messages. Similarly, Facetime on your iPhone provides encrypted voice communication features.

4. Ensure your mobile devices are secure

Finally, make sure to secure your mobile devices. For starters, always password protect your devices. Also, consider using a password manager such as LastPass to allow you to increase the complexity of passwords used while simultaneously increasing security. And last, but certainly not least, enable features on your devices that allow you to remotely wipe data from them should they be misplaced or stolen.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, a law practice management software company. She is the nationally-recognized author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media For Lawyers: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record, has authored hundreds of articles for other publications, and regularly speaks at conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology.

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New Year’s Resolutions?

For those of you that are reading this blog, thank you! Let’s try to keep it alive in 2016 with some positive feedback, comments and lots of witty blog entries. We are planning to have guest writers throughout the year – some staff and some volunteers. If you have suggestions, please let us know. Now, onto the topic at hand…New Year’s Resolutions. One of my favorite shows on TV right now is called “Brooklyn Nine Nine.” If you’re not familiar with the show, you have to watch it! It is a short show about the 99th precinct at the NYPD and Andy Sandburg is hysterical. Anyhow, I was watching one of the most recent episodes and the topic of New Year’s Resolutions got brought up. My favorite character, Rosa said simply, “New Year’s resolutions are for the weak,” so I have not made any resolutions out of spite… until today when we discussed it as a potential blog entry.

Although 2015 was not the best year for me on the personal front, come December 31, I was more excited to ring in this New Year more than any previous years. One of those reasons is that I am incredibly excited for what is in store for our Bar future. Louise Spinelli has done an excellent job of planning some great CLEs. And Liz Novak Henderson has been great at stacking our events, so that our members have a chance to not only network but work on the betterment of themselves and others. It’s going to be a great year! Here is a short list of some potential New Year’s Resolutions and how the MCBA can help:

#1. – If getting in shape is your resolution, then Midtown Athletic Club is where it is at (slang for this gym is awesome). Right now, Midtown is offering MCBA members a $0 joining fee, and $50 gift card in January, but don’t “pull a Ben” and spend it at the juice Bar or ordering food. Contact Debbie Warren at 585-512-2776.

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#2.  – Forget getting healthy, if having more fun is your New Year’s resolution, then check out our events calendar. Although you missed last night Young Lawyers Post-Holiday Party, we have social events next week for Family Law and Bankruptcy, plus another Young Lawyers Night at the Amerks at the end of the month. Don’t miss out, and have some fun!

#3. – If getting your arms around the whole Cybersecurity issue intrigues you, then the Cybersecurity: Privacy & Security Issues CLE on Jan. 28 is the answer. – Paul Greene, Jennifer Lazenby, and a Special Agent from the FBI will be speaking about what is a breach; how does it happen; and how to counsel your clients on it. Click here for more information.

#4—If one of your New Year’s resolution is to handle stress better, then the Wellness Skills Workshop: Building Tools to Effectively Deal With Stress in Ourselves and to Provide Support to Others on Friday, Jan. 29 is the answer. Stress is all around us. We never know when it will hit or something with happen and it’s good to be prepared. This is a free event for all members. Did you know that in 2014 a study produced by Stanford University showed that the Legal profession was number two in the list of most stressful/ anxiety ridden jobs? It even surpassed the medical field! The study also found that the stress leads to other problems that range from elevated cortisol from simple interactions to problems with addiction and alcohol use. You should know where to turn when you need it! Don’t forget that we do have the collaboration with Tree of Hope Counseling, which can help you with any problems that you may be facing. It is also a free service and it is completely confidential. Click here for more information about the workshop.

50 ways to take a break

If you’re looking for more resolutions, I have an entire list to share. Top ones on the list are finish my Chapstick without opening a new one; don’t be convinced by that 2am infomercial; be a part of the human journey; and take selfies that look like I’m an actual human being.

Feel free to email me or leave a comment!

Until next time,

Ben