Clients expect that an impenetrable coat of armour in your chambers will protect their valuable assets. The trusting barrister-client confidentiality agreement is built on it. So as more and more of your chambers operating systems become technology and online based, it is vital to make sure that there are no security chinks your armour.
Barrister’s chambers’ working practices must meet the strict governance, risk and compliance needs of the legal sector’s governing bodies. This extends to IT security. The legal and financial implications if you don’t protect sensitive data properly can be extremely costly:
“Did you know that fines set by the government for lost data or breach of confidentiality can be as high as £500,000?”
Every chambers should perform a regular security test to troubleshoot for weak spots and vulnerabilities that hackers, fraudsters or viruses might target. Here are some of the areas you might expect to find weaknesses:
One of the greatest weaknesses in any organisation’s IT systems is the people that use them. Human error is common and is one of the bigger unknowns you will face. We can be all be careless, gullible and overly trusting of our computer systems at times, and herein lies a big chink in your security armour.
Discarded documents and files, poor password protection, irresponsible internet use and hard drives that haven’t been disposed of properly all pose a threat to your chambers security, and must be monitored carefully.
The use of tablets and phones in the legal profession is a growing trend. The mobility and versatility of these devices is a great asset, and helps to streamline workflows and improve communications. But when laptops without drive encryption and personal mobile devices with weak passwords, or no password at all, connect to your chambers network, they open it up a whole range of security threats.
As well as the physical security of these devices (phones and tablets can easily be lost or stolen) the loss of data and information contained within them would be a breach of the Code of Conduct and the Data Protection Act.
“You should consider restriction the amount of Confidential information stored on portable devices to the minimum”
Wireless & IP Networks
“the very nature of open networks makes it more difficult for organisations to protect valuable network resources and business information.”
The open nature of some wireless and IP (Internet Protocol) networks can present security problems. Wireless networks running without WPA or WPA2 enabled are open to breaches, and IP networks designed for open communication between users and computers are vulnerable to malicious attacks by intruders. Information passing over these networks can be intercepted, modified, misused and redirected, causing considerable problems for your chambers.
Firewalls & Passwords
Password and firewall issues are the most easily rectified, so weaknesses in this area are unacceptable. Networks with little or no firewall protection, poor share access control and web applications with weak authentication mechanisms all pose a significant threat to your security.
The Bar Council guidance on password protection is to use different passwords for all devices, websites and applications, and change them often. They also advise that:
“Passwords used to access computers or encrypted data should be sufficiently memorable that you can avoid writing them down, but not obvious or easily guessed”
If you think that the integrity of any password or firewall system has been compromised, change and update it.
Where are the chinks in your armour?
Periodical security sweeps will reveal weaknesses that attackers might target. We offer a free security review, presenting a comprehensive report detailing any concerns we have and, crucially, solutions to put them right. Our IT security services for the legal sector guarantee full compliance with its official governing bodies.
Want to know more? Get in touch!