File sharing is a common practice in any business. When you’re working within a team, you can share documents internally to increase collaboration and efficiency, or you can share finished files externally with clients.
File sharing makes work easy, plain and simple, but should there be limitations to what kind of information should be shared? Would you share confidential information? How about sensitive data?
While there’s nothing that prohibits the use of file-sharing sites for lawyers, it’s important for you to understand that solutions created to enhance privacy can provide you with a greater shield against security breaches.
File Sharing Concerns
Even if your law firm has policies against using file sharing, employees may still be using it. In a recent survey, more than half of the attorney respondents put confidential client information on free consumer file-sharing sites. Why? Because these sites are easy to use, which appeal to many.
Having colleagues who use such sites without permission from higher-ups can unintentionally create situations for law firm data breaches. When policies are in place to restrict certain actions, a business can be unprepared for them if they were to occur. If your firm were to get hit with a malpractice suit because of file-sharing, they may be unprepared to handle it.
Firms should take a strong stand against the use of file-sharing services. When confidential information is transmitted anywhere on the internet, unauthorized users can access it. Law practices should implement and enforce policies prohibiting their use. Confidential client information is only as safe as your weakest link. When you don’t have clear and well-communicated policies, employees may believe it’s fine to use this service even though the clients’ best interests are at stake.
Are Some Law Firms More Susceptible to File-Sharing Security Breaches?
It seems to be that smaller law firms have fewer protections in place against file-sharing security breaches than larger ones, which gives us our answer.
The survey asked whether the respondents’ firms provide enterprise-grade file-sharing services, which offer more protection to users. Half of the survey-takers from 50+ attorney firms said yes, 38.5% of those from 20-50 attorney firms said yes, and only 10.8% of lawyers from one- and two-attorney firms said yes. When it comes to commercial file-sharing services, though, we see the statistics reversed. In one- or two-man law firms, 53% of lawyers have used it before and only 30% of lawyers from 100+ practices have.
File-sharing can present problems for law firms if they don’t have policies in place to prepare for their possible breaches. Your data security can be compromised. Unauthorized use of this service can especially prove troublesome. The best way to mitigate the possibility of attacks is to have clear and well-communicated file-sharing policies.
*All stats and figures obtained from LexisNexis