Programs that encrypt data are mandatory for anyone who needs to share sensitive information electronically. But, what are the legal implications of this developing technology? There are important things about data encryption of which every law firm should be aware.
Law Firms Are Responsible for Protecting Their Client’s Data
Even though attorneys have an ethical responsibility to protect their client’s data, only a quarter of firms report encrypting files containing privileged information and even less employ data encryption on their drives. Firms should be aware of their contractual responsibility if that information is compromised.
What are PKI Certificates and How do They Work?
Public Key Infrastructure is an essential methodology for sharing information between a data system and a user (for example, between your server and your associates), without unauthorized interception. Since you are almost certainly storing sensitive data in your office, the importance of PKI security cannot be overstated. It has become a large part of electronic security wherever information is too sensitive to be guarded by a simple password. PKI certificates are one method of authentication where a trusted third party, called a certificate authority, is responsible for publishing the public key and signing it.
What are Key Disclosure Laws?
Key disclosure laws are any laws where governments can require an individual to surrender a private key to decrypt their data. In the United States, citizens are protected from testifying against themselves by the Fifth Amendment, but law firms should make themselves aware of how these laws continue to evolve.
How Do Your Vendors Protect You Data?
It’s essential for law firms to be aware of how their data is being protected at every point of vulnerability. If their personal drives are secure, information shared or stored on the cloud may be less so. Where is their data stored, how is it encrypted in transit and how accessible are the private keys? These are important questions Law firms should have the answer to through each step of the data chain.
How Secure is Encrypted Data?
Data encrypted with private keys and PKI Certificates is inherently as secure as the access point to the private keys. Without access to the key, modern encryption is mathematically impossible to decipher. Special attention to securing the keys is an essential component of keeping that data secure.
The tools for encrypting data continue to evolve, but one thing is sure; staying aware of the technology and limitations of data encryption will help law firms to protect their clients just a little bit better in the age of information.
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