Undoubtedly, you and any other Perth family lawyers will have substantial knowledge of family law and any regulations pertaining to it. However, what is your knowledge of the law in other legal areas such as commercial and criminal law? In particular, are you aware of the legal issues that pertain to the data you hold concerning your clients?
We ask that, not to throw doubt upon your legal expertise and experience, but rather, to help ensure that your family lawyers business is completely risk-free of any potential legal and criminal repercussions as a result of your clients’ data becoming compromised.
It only takes minimal research online to discover that there have been many businesses who have had to suffer the consequences of poor data security, with the worst cases resulting in a business having to close down due to financial penalties and damage to its reputation. Not for a second are we suggesting that is going to happen to your family lawyers business, but it is better to take action to protect against the worst happening, than trying to rescue the situation after it does.
The reason that the security and protection of personal data within the business world have become such as high profile subjects is undoubtedly influenced by the huge and rapid expansion of the internet, and in particular what people use the internet for. From the early days of simple messaging and basic research, the internet now accounts for the equivalent of 5 trillion Australian dollars of consumer spending every year.
In addition to online spending, if you think about all the other ways in which the internet is used, and the fact that to use many online services individuals must divulge personal information, then it stands to reason that there is a massive amount of personal data that needs to be protected from hackers.
Even at the local level, such as in your family lawyers business, by the very nature of the cases you deal with, there will undoubtedly be a huge amount of personal data relating to your clients that you store both physically and digitally, and all of it must be protected under both state and federal data protection laws. The main ones include The Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).
To comply with data protection laws there are multiple ways it can be done, but in most businesses, including your family lawyers business, there are some common steps that provide a solid foundation for data privacy and protection. Examples include
- All employee contracts including a confidentiality clause
- Employee training on data protection as it applies your business
- Employees being trained to identify potential security risks
- Data being allocated specific security levels and limiting access to each level based on employee roles
- Highly sensitive information classified on a ‘need to know’ basis
- All emails being encrypted
- Restricting internet access on business computers to specific websites
- Banning the transfer of data to storage devices such as USB sticks
- Making shredders available throughout offices to securely dispose of discarded documents
None of these suggestions is especially difficult to implement, however, if you are still unsure whether the level of data security in your family lawyers business is sufficient, then there are data protection experts who you can ask to carry out a data security check. This can identify ‘weakest links’ within your business and recommend steps to eliminate them, thus ensuring your data security meets all state and federal requirements.