Law firms must protect the security of client information. According to the HIPAA Omnibus Rule, any law firm providing services to the health care industry are directly liable for compliance with the entire HIPAA Security Rule, as well as select provisions of the Privacy Rule.
With the evolving and increasing use of the Internet and technology, lawyers are handling confidential client information in new ways. Electronic documents and data have replaced paper documents for the law industry.
Similar to any individual in healthcare, such as doctors, nurses, and insurance providers; law firm attorneys and employees must take great caution to secure individuals’ private health information. When law firms fail to protect PHI, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights can deliver substantial fines.
Law firms must maintain the security and privacy of any PHI during the course of business. In addition, law firms must adhere to federal policies, protocols, and various technology standards for electronic PHI.
Upgrading from Windows XP and Office 2003
On April 8th, 2014, Microsoft will end its support for Windows XP and Office 2003. For law firms, the end-of-support brings many potential complications and security breaches. When a law firm fails to upgrade its operating system and software, there are many security risks and compliance issues that could easily lead to a security breach.
Aside from HIPAA, the confidentiality of client records and documents is extremely important. When a law firm serves organizations in the healthcare industry, the risks are immensely increased due to HIPAA compliance requirements.
Without regular patch updates, Windows XP is a primary target for cyber criminals to conduct malicious attacks. In addition, law firms that fail to upgrade from Windows XP and Office 2003 will experience inefficiency within critical legal applications.
Law firms that come into contact with PHI must enforce proper information security controls, protect confidential client information, monitor information access, as well as monitor compliance within the organization.
For Windows XP and Office 2003, Microsoft support provides important security fixes, patches for vulnerabilities, and updates. When a new exploit arises, it won’t be fixed. This means the law firm’s entire network and systems will be vulnerable to cyber-attacks, data theft, network intrusion, and hacking.
According to Microsoft, the average enterprise deployment will take anywhere between 18 and 32 months for full deployment. It’s extremely important for law firms to begin the migration process, in order to ensure the security of confidential client information and PHI.
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