ABA Techshow Recap: The importance of online security

We’re back from the ABA Techshow, which is always a great opportunity to learn about the state of legal technology today.  The show was packed with lawyers from all kinds of law firms who came to learn about the latest technologies to improve efficiency, better market their practices, and engage juries in the courtroom.

This year, many sessions addressed security and technology. Topics ranged from encrypting documents, to password best practices, to the ethics of cloud computing.  Lawyers are increasingly concerned with data security because they have a responsibility to protect client data and confidentiality (not to mention that clients now often ask their lawyers undertake specific security measures to protect their information).

At first, it may seem that following all of the practices suggested during the sessions would be daunting.  Lawyers should use encryption, but does that mean they are expected to encrypt all of their email?  Passwords must be secure, but do lawyers need to generate completely random passwords for each account?  Because cloud services can be hacked, should lawyers avoid storing documents on any internet-based service altogether?

But not only did the presenters at the Techshow address these concerns, they also provided practical solutions.  To quote one of the presenters, ”Security shouldn’t be so tight that the lawyer cannot practice law.”

Lawyers aren’t expected to be perfect – but they are expected to take reasonable measures to protect their law firm’s data and client privacy.  For example, there are many emails that won’t require encryption, but lawyers should learn what encryption is and should consider encrypting emails about sensitive topics.

Lawyers should avoid bad password practices like using single words or names, but should consider stronger passwords such as using variations of phrases.  And to make reasonable judgments about which documents can safely be stored on the internet — and which documents will require a more secure solution — lawyers should review the terms of service for cloud-based applications (also known as “software as a service” applications, or SaaS).

If you missed this year’s show, there’s always next year.  The next ABA Techshow will be March 17-19, 2016.


About Debbie Ginsberg

Debbie is the Educational Technology Librarian at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
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