Optimizing your in-house legal operations, part 3: Secure collaboration

Jason Noble
President, CEO

There’s no shortage of reasons for why an enterprise would want to cultivate a strong in-house, legal ops team (see part one of this series). And there are plenty of ways that a comprehensive enterprise portal designed for the unique requirements of corporate counsel and supporting staff can enhance legal ops’ productivity. These include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Interactive, professional profiles
  • A 360-degree view of corporate counsel and legal ops team members
  • Comprehensive internal and external outreach directories
  • The ability to quickly share information and knowledge
  • Mobile accessibility

The only thing that’s missing from this list is the most important component of any legal ops collaboration tool: security.

In part 3 of this series about optimizing in-house legal ops, we’ll look at some of the threats to legacy communication solutions used by corporate counsel, and explain how secure collaboration is implicit in many of the features mentioned above.

First things first: Anything is better than email

Everyday, tens of thousands of business users open malicious email messages.

In 2015, a Canada-based cybersecurity firm estimated that 156 million phishing emails were sent every day, and of those emails, approximately 16 million made it past filters. Of these, 8 million were opened by unsuspecting recipients.

Here’s the problem: Corporate counsel and legal ops teams have traditionally used email as their principal form of sharing critical knowledge, including tacit information that is used for any number of legal workflows. In other words, legal ops have been sharing privileged, highly sensitive information on a digital communication medium that’s teeming with data security pitfalls. All it really takes is one email address being compromised to result in data theft.

Consider what happened to CIA Director John Brennan in late 2015. According to Wired, a teenager was able to social engineer his way into the private email of one of the highest-ranking intelligence officials in the U.S. by posing as a Verizon technician on the phone. If email fraud can happen to the CIA director, it can happen to your legal ops team.

How a legal ops collaboration platform helps: By bringing the appropriate legal counsel and supporting professionals together in a shared virtual environment, a collaboration platform specifically for in-house legal ops teams drastically reduces the amount of email communication that’s required. Should an email server be breached, or should a hacker wiggle his way into a corporate account, access to sensitive legal documents will remain barred.

Insider threats are breathing down enterprises’ necks

“The majority of employees suspect they may be guilty of insider negligence.”

According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, only 39 percent of business end users, “believe they take all appropriate steps to protect company data accessed and used in the course of their jobs.” In other words, the vast majority of employees suspect that they may be guilty of some degree of cybersecurity negligence.

This negligence could take any of the following forms: Sending an important document with sensitive information via a personal email account, downloading unauthorized applications on company endpoints, sharing corporate data over questionable public Wi-Fi networks, accessing enterprise databases from a public endpoint and much more.

Other insider threats arise as a result of a breach that impacts a third-party vendor. This has happened on multiple occasions, including the infamous Target breach of 2014. Alternatively, it’s possible that an organization won’t adequately silo certain sets of data, or have a framework in place that ensures only specific enterprise users can access those stores.

Last but not least, there’s always the risk that a malicious insider is actively trying to do an organization harm.

How a legal ops collaboration platform helps: Firstly, your legal ops collaboration tool should have an intuitive enough user experience that there will be no need to use personal email accounts or unauthorized applications in their stead – so that handily addresses the concern of shadow IT. As for the problem of external access or internal access from unauthorized departments, social collaboration, by nature, makes it easy to limit or confine access to specific feeds, groups, and messages. This eliminates the potential of peering eyes, be they inquisitive interns or spies.

A legal-ops collaboration portal is more secure than the alternatives

There’s little doubt at this point that in-house legal ops will only become more important as enterprise risks abound, and as new regulations rise in an attempt to meet these risks. However, as this happens, it’s important for counselors, litigators, paralegals and supporting legal ops staff to adequately manage their own security risks.

Legal ops teams should seek an enterprise collaboration portal that has built-in core social features, like news feeds, polls and groups, allowing everyone on your team to share knowledge and collaborate on sensitive cases while maintaining complete confidentiality. It should have ethical wall support, mobile capabilities, identity provider integration like Okta and Ping, plus secure access for outside counsel.

Today’s cyberthreat landscape is getting scarier, but that doesn’t mean it should taint the performance of your legal ops department. Start employing a tool that offers all of the aforementioned secure collaboration features sooner rather than later.

This is part three of a four-part series about optimizing your in-house legal operations.

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