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Malpractice focus: law firms' defenses against hacking attempts

It is certainly understandable why actors in the medical industry -- hospitals, clinics, billing firms, medical device makers and so forth -- are acutely focused on having security systems in place that adequately safeguard against third-party hacking attempts aimed at stealing proprietary data.

After all, medical field participants deal with sensitive and flatly private patient data. Cybersecurity breaches of internal firewall and other protective systems can yield catastrophic effects and, concomitantly, huge liability risks for any repository of confidential information.

The same is true for banks and other financial industry companies.

And, of course, is it true regarding law firms.

In fact, the potential downsides related to a hack and breach of customer files from a law firm in California or elsewhere can be dire in the extreme. Data relating to a business client's most sensitive intellectual property or trade secrets might be publicly leaked, for example. Critically important price data, future business plans, strategy implementations and other close-to-the-vest information might be captured by criminal enterprises and held for ransom or sold to competitors.

The bottom line: Understandably, law firms' treatment of customers' most private information is increasingly coming under a microscope, with litigation emerging to challenge alleged deficiencies in internal systems established to safeguard client confidentiality.

Such a development is wholly unsurprising, given that law firms and their lawyers are routinely privy to closely guarded business secrets. Understandably, demonstrated carelessness in keeping proprietary data private can bring draconian outcomes for clients who have justifiably relied upon a law firm's professionalism and competence to their detriment.

Cybersecurity threats are a new reality in American corporate life.

And law firms are not immune from scrutiny when it comes to queries regarding the safety and efficacy of internal systems established to safeguard data.

It is likely that news articles will increasingly feature reports of law firms' alleged malpractice in putting into place effective anti-breach process, coupled with discussion of their legal liability for failure to do so.

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