| Damien Black

Accidental Data Breaches by Law Firms Show Importance of Using Secure Communications

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of an unintentional “reply all” knows that email is prone to user error.


Look at the recent Wells Fargo data breach, which was a result of one attorney accidentally giving a client’s highly sensitive financial information to another litigator during the e-discovery process.


Simple Human Error Can Cause a Breach


Another recent incident shows how simple human error can land your law firm on the front page of the Wall Street Journal – for all the wrong reasons. A memo from law firm WilmerHale discussing a subpoena involving Pepsico’s former general counsel Maura Smith was inadvertently sent to a WSJ reporter.


How could this have happened? The likely culprit was the inline auto-complete feature in email.


If you are still using this feature, this is fair warning to turn it off. In fact, a better idea is to stop using email all together for sharing confidential information and use a secure collaboration software solution so that information is protected, and access is restricted.


The incident led to the law firm releasing a statement saying it “deeply regretted” that the privileged documents were inadvertently emailed to the reporter.


If companies, including law firms, don’t start doing more to defend against data breaches – both criminal and accidental – then the government and regulators will step in and create policies and regulations as they see fit.


To learn about how attorneys can protect their client communications through encryption and cloud services, download our eBook, “Technology Solutions Mitigate Risk of Data Disclosure.”