Online, people share vast amounts of data about themselves. This ranges from social profiles detailing their work and history to medical portals outlining their medical history. Your legal technology also holds this sensitive information about others.
As a result, data breaches are increasing as hackers and others try to access this sensitive, personally identifiable information.
PII compliance is tightening its hold on how businesses can gather, manage, store, and use PII data. Staying on top of the latest compliance can feel like doing the doggy paddle in the middle of the ocean, trying to stay afloat. But the right tools and processes will build rafts for your legal department. So, instead of gasping for air in the flood of compliance rules, you can float along, effortlessly bobbing over any waves and storms data breach attempts throw your way.
Let’s walk through 10 tips to keep your legal department PII compliant and perform regular PII compliance checks.
- PII compliance protects clients from data breaches and identity fraud.
- Stay on top of the latest compliance and adjust your processes and technology accordingly.
- Perform risk assessments and set up breach response plans to limit or eliminate data breach risks.
Why PII Compliance Matters
Personally identifiable information (PII) is any information that identifies a person, such as names, email addresses, health information, addresses, and banking information.
It can also be a combination of information where the data doesn’t identify a person on its own, like the college they attended. However, if that information appears alongside other nonidentifiable details, it can identify an individual.
Remaining PII compliant protects your clients from data breaches and identity fraud. It also improves your client’s trust in you as a legal team. Your compliance demonstrates a commitment to privacy and the protection of the data anyone shares with you.
This assurance can lead to clients sharing more data with you.
Protecting PII can be challenging, mainly because 97% of all data breaches target PII. That’s why PII compliance is strict. But, with the proper processes and tools, meeting these strict standards will be a breeze.
10 Ways to Protect PII Data in Your Legal Technology
Explore ten ways to store and protect sensitive PII in your legal department.
1. Understand Applicable Regulations
Familiarize yourself with the latest data protection regulations in your jurisdiction. Common regulations include GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA.
Start by understanding your specific PII processing and storage requirements. For example, consider your jurisdiction’s stance on IP addresses and third-party tracking. Some view these as PII, while others don’t.
Because PII compliance changes often, review them regularly to stay informed about privacy laws. As changes occur, be sure to communicate those changes to the entire legal team and implement those changes in your legal technology.
2. Perform Data Mapping
Data mapping tracks the flow of data in your legal department.
To correctly data map PII, identify and document where the PII came from in your legal technology systems.
This includes client databases, case management systems, communication tools, and other platforms on which you may store PII.
Document all PII processing activities, such as data flow changes and updates to the legal technology systems that might affect PII security.
3. Encrypt Data Transfers
Encryption scrambles data during transfer, accessible only by anyone with a decryption key.
When you send data to other parties or store it, use encryption to protect from data breaches and restrict access to only those with the “key” or approved access.
4. Restrict Access Control
Tighten access controls around your data. This helps you keep tabs on who accesses PII in your database.
Limit access to those needing the PII database for their job functions.
Using role-based access controls and performing regular audits to track who has accessed the data helps monitor where the data ended up.
5. Keep Data to a Minimum
While data can be beneficial, storing more data than you can manage makes you more likely to misplace data and for breaches to occur. Minimizing the amount of PII you keep also minimizes your risk of breaking compliance.
Perform regular reviews to check what information you store. Set rules for keeping or deleting data, such as how long to store PII records and when to delete them.
6. Keep Consent Records
Consent is key in PII compliance. Your consent records should remain where those accessing PII can easily find them. This allows those using PII to see what they can and cannot do with the data.
Regularly review your consent records to align with the latest compliance regulations, as outdated consent forms can result in PII data misuse.
7. Choose Compliant Vendors
Most legal operations use third-party legal technology providers for collecting, storing, and processing data. Choosing providers should be a careful decision that considers the vendor’s compliance standards.
Your job of staying PII compliant will be significantly easier if the tools you use adhere to the same policies.
For example, Exigent stays on top of PII regulations and provides tools that adhere to the latest compliance rules to help you protect your PII data.
8. Plan for Data Breaches
Data breaches occur quite often, with 5.5 billion malware attacks worldwide in 2022 alone.
On average, it takes companies 204 days to identify a data breach and another 73 days to contain a breach.
Precautions and a breach response plan reduce response times. For instance, threat intelligence can cut threat identification time by 28 days.
Your plan should include:
- Steps for identifying and containing breaches.
- Notifying affected individuals.
- Reporting incidents to relevant authorities as required by law.
9. Perform Regular Audits and Assessments
Conduct regular internal audits and risk assessments. The risk assessments help identify potential vulnerabilities so you can catch them before they cause issues.
The audits also help you monitor whether your legal technology systems comply with the latest privacy standards.
10. Train Your Employees in PII Compliance
Train your employees on privacy policies, data protection laws, and best practices for handling PII. Then, have regular refresher training to update them on changes to local PII compliance regulations.
Additionally, train your legal team to identify and report any incidents and issues they see with PII in addition to your regular audits.
Protect Your PII Data
Exigent has your back.
Our PII compliance tools identify, manage, and protect PII data. With secure encryption and automatic redaction, you’ll meet the latest PII compliance.
Legal technology simplifies compliance, giving you more time for daily tasks. It also significantly reduces your chances of expensive and reputation-damaging data breaches.
Contact us to discover how our legal technology services and tools for PII compliance can work for you.
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About the Author:
Exigent delivers scale, expertise, and insights that generate bigger returns for CLM – Contract Lifecycle Management, Legal Spend Management, e-Billing, Due Diligence, Document Review, eDiscovery and Litigation Support, Commercial Services, Regulatory & Compliance, Outsourced Legal Administration, and Legal Tech Design.