Best practices when creating a legal Data Security Plan

A Data Security Plan ensures that the correct steps are in place to safeguard data information use, storage and sharing. And in our GDPR world, it’s vital that your legal business has one. Helping you to achieve and maintain compliance, here are ten best practices you should follow to keep your clients and your firm safe.

Think prevention rather than cure

Okay, if a data breach occurs, you need to know how to deal with it, but it’s far more important to stop your data from being stolen, lost or neglected in the first place. Start by assessing what you have and what others might want. Keeping up with data breaches and hacks is crucial if you’re going to be able to stay ahead of the cyber criminals. For example, it pays to know that hackers are already targeting law firms due to the precious information they hold.

Audit your systems

List all your information systems to ensure you have a detailed record of what your business has, where all of the controls and permissions are located, and any potential weaknesses. Consider things like password controls, storage, physical risks, firewalls and more.

Implement access control

Deploy access to information on a “need to know” basis. If an employee doesn’t need a specific piece of data to do their job, reduce the risk by making sure they can’t get to it. Also, make sure that should someone leave, this access is revoked immediately. Furthermore, with the Internet of Things (IoT) enabling more interconnection between technology, you should also make sure that access to any sensitive client data is not unintentionally available due to linked systems.

Keep your software updated.

To stay data safe it’s vital to keep your systems up-to-date with the most recent software.

Consider the bigger picture

When many lawyers think about creating a data security plan, they focus solely on hackers. However, human error remains the leading cause of data breaches, so you need to think beyond cyber crime. What’s more, something as simple as bad weather could create an unnecessary level of data risk. As such, make sure all your data, backup systems, platforms and anything else you need to run your business are always available and secure regardless of where you are.

Make everyone responsible

Data security is no longer the sole responsibility of your IT department. In a modern legal business, everyone should be aware of the data security plan. And, as well as knowing that it exists and what it includes, they must also understand the reasons for its existence, the consequences of failure and their specific data security obligations.

Implement a training plan

Run regular training sessions for all employees to maximise security awareness. To help ensure that everyone in your firm is aware of their data protection responsibilities, you should also create an acceptable-use policy.

Adopt a holistic approach

Data security isn’t confined to your office. In an increasingly mobile world, you have to think holistically. For example, your remote staff should have access to the same security measures as your office-based employees if you want to reduce the risk of a data breach. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how often your IT department talks about cyber security if senior management isn’t on board.

Review your liability coverage.

Check your liability and cyber security insurance policies to make sure that your plan is comprehensive and adequate for the level of risk you are exposed to.

Don’t rest on your laurels

Once you have a robust data security plan in place, you can’t sit back and forget about it. Make sure that you have designated people who regularly review data security and any new/emerging threats. You should also periodically test the technology and policies you have in place to make sure you are still following best practice. Just because there have been no breaches in your company, does not mean that you would be safe should you become a target.

With an increasing amount of sensitive data being held online, the impact on your clients and your business should you fail to look after it adequately cannot be overstated.