I’m going to be discussing cybersecurity a lot in the upcoming months. Just look at what’s happened in the last few months – HBO got hacked, and Equifax suffered a data breach with 143 million people’s information being exposed. Before that, Dropbox was hacked, Sony, a bunch of celebrities’ nude photos, Ashley Madison, all got hacked. And here I am telling you to put your confidential client records in the cloud, a recommendation I stand by.
I think cybersecurity should be on every person’s mind in 2017, and certainly every lawyer’s. If you have a bank account that you access online, a credit card, a mortgage payment or car payment, student loans, or use email, you use the cloud. Whether your documents are locked in your office in a filing cabinet, or in a password-protected cloud account, someone other than you can get them. I’ve written several articles on cybersecurity in the past and I am going to be writing several more in the near future. As a legal tech columnist here at Above the Law, I think it’s probably the most important thing I can write about. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I can help people choose the best desktop scanner, but I love it even more when I can help lawyers prevent having their clients’ confidential information stolen and avoid state bar sanctions and loss of reputation.
One of the problems is that I can tell you things like “use two-factor authentication” or “use a VPN,” but if you are not computer literate, it might be hard for you to set up. Or maybe you simply don’t have the time between your law and motion and deposition calendar and so, theoretical threats of potential and unlikely harm at some point in the future do not get much attention.
Office 365 has a relatively new tool that takes only a few seconds to set up to drastically increase your security. The features I’m going to show you took me about 15 minutes to do. Many of you might know that Office 365 offers a lot of features that work great for lawyers. For $20 or less a month, you get five licenses to the desktop versions of Microsoft Office, one terabyte of cloud storage, and email hosting. Few of you probably know about the handful of other tools for collaboration, planning, and organizing your cases and tasks or managing your data. Here’s a rundown of one of those lesser-known tools, called Secure Score.
What Is Secure Score
Secure Score is a tool to analyze all of the weak points in your armor. That would be pointless if it didn’t also tell you how to fix those problems. If you have Office 365, here’s the link. Here’s how it works.
On the dashboard, you have a score of x of y. There’s a slider that lets you choose what your target score should be and how tightly you want to lock down your data. Remember that the higher your score, the more it restricts your access to data and could potentially impact workflow. For example, moving the slider all the way to 452, the max score, limits when you would have access to your data from your mobile devices.
You also get a score of how your data policies compare to others:
If you are not at your target score, it gives you recommendations for how to increase your cybersecurity. For example, above, you’ll see that in this screen shot, Office 365 has identified 17 possible things I could do to increase security. Clicking on any one of those suggestions gives me an overview of what the suggestion is, and also how much it affects my overall security level. If something would contribute only points to my security, it’s less important than a 50-point item.
When you click on Learn more, you get a more detailed explanation, and there’s a button at the bottom to turn on that feature. It’s as simple as that. Office 365 has thousands of settings scattered across dozens of dashboards. Here, you have everything in one place – all of the explanations and the links to change those settings. All you need to do is click the “Launch Now” button.
The list of recommendations is terrific. It includes links for you to review reports of, for example, times when someone tried numerous times to unsuccessfully log in to your account, or whether a hacker has installed a mail rule that would forward all mail to the hacker.
This is a fantastic tool and I hope you check it out. In about 15 minutes, I raised my score by about 100 points.
Jeff Bennion is a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Jeff Bennion. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of San Diego’s plaintiffs’ trial lawyers association, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego. He is also the Chair of the State Bar of California’s Law Practice Management and Technology section. He is a member of the Advisory Council and instructor at UCSD’s Litigation Technology Management program. His opinions are his own. Follow him on Twitter here or on Facebook here, or contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.