It seems like everytime we lawyers log on to the Internet, there is a new “security threat” to concern us. Well, hold on to your hats, there’s a new risk and it’s a doozie:
Most lawyers know by now that, if they toss their computer or donate it to a charity, they should wipe the data from the computer’s hard drive or risk failing to safeguard their clients’ information. Indeed, this failure could spell substantial risk for both the clients’ and the lawyers’ personal information, if an un-wiped computer fell into the wrong, malicious hands.
But, has anyone stopped to consider their office copy machine? Probably not. However, unless your machine is a complete dinosaur, it has a “hard drive” which stores a digital image of every copy it makes. See image below:
If a “malcontent” manages to take the “hard drive” out of your copy machine, can you imagine the goldmine of information it would yield? Even in the most typical solo family law office, for example, the copy machine’s “hard drive” would likely contain page after page of bank accounts, investment records, diaries, correspondence, emails, the list could go and on. All for the taking – in plain ‘ole text. No codes, no encryption, na da.
You can link to a couple of interesting – if not terrifying – articles about this subject here and here. There is also a video on the subject that is well worth watching. Whether you are a virtual or traditional lawyer, you simply must dump your 20th century mindset and start regarding every piece of equipment you use as potentially being a “computer” that is storing your client’s information and your own – and tread very carefully!