During the nation-wide stay at home directive to combat the spread of Covid-19, we’ve all missed some of the luxuries we are used to. One such luxury is the safe and secure offices we work in. At our offices, we have systems in place in order to ensure that all our client information stays safe and confidential. The importance of this doesn’t change when working from home, but it may feel like more of a challenge.
The fast-paced nature of legal work already puts attorneys at risk of accidentally breaking client confidentiality if they’re not organized or prudent enough. ALPS has provided a list of ways to help with client confidentiality while working outside of your normal office space.
1. Have a designated workspace and keep others away from it:
This is a challenge, especially if multiple adults are working from home or you have children who are not currently going to school, but it is first on the list because it is of utmost importance. Keeping kids and other household members away from computers, files, paperwork, mobile devices, and anything else that could give someone access to confidential client information is our first defense when working remotely. Make sure that children have a separate device to use for schoolwork.
2. Set Rules:
If you have paralegals or other employees working remotely, be sure that there is a clear set of rules provided to them about how to handle client information that is in files and on firm issued laptops and devices. Consider including a confidentiality agreement that must be signed in order to ensure these rules are followed.
3. Use a VPN:
Using a VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, is a great tool for maintaining cyber security. A VPN connects your remote device to the firm’s network using a secure, encrypted tunnel. Have your IT department configure this so that it is done properly. Have them include a timeout feature as well so that remote employees don’t accidentally stay logged into the private network when inactive.
4. Password protect everything:
Hopefully, your computer is already password protected. Ensure that you lock it when stepping away even for the briefest moment. If you are also using a mobile device to access files or emails, set it up with a password as well, and lock it when not in use. Kids are especially keen with technology, and mobile devices are at high risk of accidentally being compromised.
5. Invest in a Shredder:
Many of us have large shredding bins at our offices. If you have confidential information on physical paper, it is important that something that needs to be destroyed is done so quickly and properly. Get a shredder for your home office to ensure those important documents are not sitting on your desk putting clients at risk.
6. Remain Vigilant:
Do not ease up on any of the rules you set for yourself or your employees at any time. Being overly confident can be one of our biggest downfalls. Never assume that your employees are taking these steps without you insisting on it, and never choose convenience over security.
In short, security is more important than ever while are working with the added risks of remote working. Take these steps to help yourself, your employees and your clients feel safe and secure. You can never be too cautious.