If you’re using handheld or mobile electronic devices including (but not limited to) laptops, netbooks, tablets, MP3 players, USB drives and/or smart phones for work, consider whether you have adequately secured these devices from possible confidentiality breaches.

These handy digital devices are easy to lose, steal, or even access remotely without authorization – with the potential loss of confidential and sensitive information, which in turn could expose your firm’s attorneys to disciplinary action or malpractice claims.

Protect confidential information transmitted or stored on these devices by:

  • Restricting use of devices
  • Knowing the location of devices at all times
  • Never leaving devices unattended
  • Using strong password protection at start up (at minimum)
  • Using authentication tools, encryption software, individual passwords and/or view blockers to limit access to devices or documents
  • Wiping/deleting the hard drive before donating or selling
  • Installing anti-virus software and keeping it up-to-date
  • Using caution when opening e-mail or downloading software
  • Developing a firm policy for electronic device security

Stay up-to-date on digital security by subscribing to legal technology blogs and reviewing websites like the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section (http://www.abanet.org/lpm) and Legal Technology Resource Center (http://www.lawtechnology.org/).

This article originally appeared in the North Carolina State Bar Association Paralegal Division’s November 2010 newsletter, Paralegal Perspectives. Got an idea for a short ethics tip for the Ethics Corner? I’d love to hear it (lynne.devenny@gmail.com).

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