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As attorneys continue to increasingly embrace mobile technology like laptops, smartphones, tablets, external hard drives, and USB (thumb) drives, it is critical for them to understand and address the risks. The attributes that make theses devices so useful – they are portable and compact, with high storage capacity – also make them risky. They can easily be lost or stolen, compromising the data stored on them.

Fortunately, there are inexpensive and easy to use encryption solutions to protect confidentiality in the event of loss or theft of mobile devices. While many attorneys will need help in setting up encryption, it is generally easy to use after it has been set up.

Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report, a leading analysis of security incidents and their causes, explains it this way:

PHYSICAL THEFT AND LOSS
RECOMMENDED CONTROLS
The primary root cause of incidents in this pattern is carelessness of one degree or another. Accidents happen. People lose stuff. People steal stuff. And that’s never going to change. But there are a few things you can do to mitigate that risk.

Encrypt devices
Considering the high frequency of lost assets, encryption is as close to a no-brainer solution as it gets for this incident pattern. Sure, the asset is still missing, but at least it will save a lot of worry, embarrassment, and potential lawsuits by simply being able to say the information within it was protected. Also, periodically checking to ensure encryption is still active is right up there too. This will come in handy when the auditor or regulator asks that dreaded question: “How do you know for sure it was encrypted?”

The Ethics 20/20 amendments to ABA Model Rule 1.6 require attorneys to “make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.” Amended Comment [18] to Rule 1.6 includes availability of additional safeguards in the analysis of what is reasonable. Do attorneys who fail to use encryption, a no-brainer solution, comply with this duty?

For more information on encryption, see LTRC’s FYI: Playing It Safe With Encryption and FYI: Security on the Go. Watch this blog for future posts on available encryption options and details of implementing them.

Featured image: “Close up of a business man crossing his arms in an office” from Shutterstock.

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