Protect your data

June 10, 2010
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IL staff writer Rebecca Berfanger wrote this post.

The June edition of the Evansville Bar Association newsletter, the E-Summation, had a brief article explaining how even copiers might have data chips that store information, including images of anything that is scanned on them, and that attorneys should be aware of this. Bottom line: Just because you take your copies and originals with you, it doesn’t mean no one else can access those images later.

This makes sense, as I’ve used the copier at our office to make PDFs, and many copiers have this capability as a way to save time and paper when trying to e-mail a document or when posting something online as a PDF.

While Susan Vollmer, the executive director of the EBA, said she wasn’t aware of a specific case of this occurring to any lawyers in southwest Indiana, she included it in the newsletter because an attorney member of the organization sent her a message about the concern, including a link to this YouTube video

There was also an attorney who mentioned this at the Indiana State Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Conference on June 4 at a CLE session about security for law firms. That session was led by Lincoln Mead, IT director of the Utah State Bar Association, who was also one of the speakers at the Tech Camp June 3.

While most of what Mead said at the June 4 session was about how to protect information coming in and out of a law firm – including various types of server hardware, how to detect viruses and spyware, and security concerns that larger firms would generally hire an IT department to keep an eye on – he mentioned that printers might store information without a user’s knowledge.

After he mentioned this, an observer in the room also brought up the issue of copiers holding information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to flag him down afterward, so it’s possible it was the same attorney who sent this information to Vollmer or someone who may have read or heard about this from the E-Summation. Or it’s possible someone may have accessed information he had scanned at what he assumed was a secure copier.

Another security tip anyone can benefit from: Anything that stores information shouldn’t leave the building, except in teeny tiny pieces, Mead said. He suggested that if firms want to donate old computers to schools, non-profits, or anyone else who could benefit from them, they should. But first, they should have a day where the kids come in and, with hammers, destroy any chips that might have information on them, even if the data was erased already.

He also suggested that when firms shred old documents, they not only shred, but that they burn or pulp the bits of paper, whichever their state allows, as a way to ensure no one else will ever access confidential information.

Have you used any of these methods to protect information? Will you consider it from now on?


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  1. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  2. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  3. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  4. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  5. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well