Law firms have many priorities to manage. Protection of client data should be at the top of the list. And even if it is, document flow and management are not usually among the highest security priorities. They should be, because private client information in any document that law teams handle is at risk of exposure, a disaster that could harm a firm’s reputation and cost millions of dollars to rectify.
Activist groups, disgruntled employees or clients, and cyber criminals have new means of accessing client information. They could be taking client documents from anywhere at any time: a desktop, a laptop, a mobile device, a table in a copier room, or during a file-sharing session.
n an event commonly referred to as The Paradise Papers, 13.4 million client documents were reported to have been leaked from:
Source: BBC, Paradise Papers: Everything You Need to Know About the Leak, Nov. 10, 2017
In a separate event commonly referred to as The Panama Papers:
Source: Law Times, Panama Papers and Solicitor-Client Privilege, Aug. 13, 2018
Lack of standardization, outdated equipment, and innocent mistakes can put law firms at risk of exposing client data when document creation, access, and flow aren't controlled and secured.
Lack of Pervasive security Mindset
SECURITY ISSUES WITH THIRD-PARTY PROVIDERS AND CLOUD SYSTEMS
ACCIDENTAL EXPOSURE BY WELL-INTENTIONED EMPLOYEES
PASSWORD MANAGEMENT BEING WEAK OR NON-EXISTENT
REDUCED SECURITY STANDARDS FOR REMOTE WORKERS
Every day firms handle tremendous amounts of sensitive documents containing private client information. Those documents are created, uploaded, downloaded, shared, copied, printed, and filed. This fast-moving connection of workflows must be secured, but also organized and controlled for productive operations.
Here are six ways to help secure your document ecosystem:
Ensure every incoming client document immediately enters the same document management system. Use an encryption method to protect documents when they are in digital storage or being transferred digitally.
Use an integrated hardware-software solution for document management so that users can share information without leaving the secure ecosystem.
Require user authentication at points in a workflow where documents will leave the secure ecosystem, for example when documents are transferred via mobile file sharing.
Having visibility to active document workflows can enable monitoring for abnormal activity or unauthorized access.
Security protocols should be intuitive and easy to follow to promote user adherence to firm policies, and can help reduce firm liabilities.
A proactive approach to security involves a balance of document availability, confidentiality, and integrity because a security plan should be aligned to business drivers and outcomes or it won’t be effective.
Average total cost of a data breach for U.S. organizations in 2018
Source: Ponemon Institute, 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study, July 2018
Securing and controlling document workflows doesn’t have to slow down day-to-day operations or impede client services. In fact, solutions like uniFLOW from Canon USA can help enable firms to contribute to a secure document ecosystem by providing a consolidated platform for collecting documents and managing document output.
The reality is that many points of potential exposure exist in the life of any active client document. Having visibility and control of document workflow can help law firms reduce risk while continuing to provide clients with stellar service.