Have you met your new coworker? Long used in manufacturing and increasingly more so in home applications (such as Roomba, a vacuum cleaner), robotics have entered the practice of law: Several law firms around the United States have hired ROSS the robot. In Wisconsin, von Briesen & Roper is using ROSS to perform research in bankruptcy cases. According to Futurism.com, ROSS, which is built on IBM's Watson platform, "was designed to read and understand language, postulate hypotheses when asked questions, research, and then to generate responses to back up its conclusions."
Robotics is just the latest version of technology in the law office. And with technology comes both convenience and the increased risk of violating confidences through data breaches. The opportunity for data breaches increased dramatically with the rise of Google and other mass data-search engines in the early 2000s, ending an era of relatively easy security because there was nothing that searched everything easily. But today, cybersecurity is the new watchword for everyone, especially for lawyers and law offices of all sizes.
A speaker on cybersecurity at a conference I recently attended noted that associations are considered soft targets compared to other businesses. And law firms are also considered relatively soft targets. But hackers are not interested in bar associations or law firms for the reasons we might think or fear. Sure, Social Security numbers that we have along with other personally identifiable information might be of interest, as might the various information found in case files in law offices, but those are small fish.
What the hackers are looking for is how to get into the large corporations, the government, or the military. And if the easy path is to get into a bar association in order to get to the chair of a litigation department or the business department of a law firm that can provide the pathway to the CEO of a corporation or other major enterprise, then that is the path to take. This is not as far-fetched as you might think. After all, the Target debacle started with an email from an HVAC contractor. At the State Bar, we protect your information with layers of firewalls as well as off-site cohosting of our website, which has its own security. And some information we don't even keep, such as your credit card number.
Cybersecurity is a top priority at the State Bar of Wisconsin. And it should be for every law office in Wisconsin. That is why the Solo & Small Firm Conference, being held at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells this month, includes sessions on cybersecurity-related topics, such as the reasons you should have a written security plan and how to create one, security risk assessment and how to protect your digital files, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
Tison Rhine, advisor to the State Bar's Law Office Management Assistance Program (Practice411™), also will present at the Solo & Small Firm Conference. If you miss him there, call him at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6012, for answers to your cybersecurity and other technology questions.