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In-house counsel and data security

Posted by: Laurence Simons 13/08/13

In the good old days, in-house counsel wouldn't have had to sully their hands with technology, preferring to write all their notes with a fountain pen to showcase their wonderful penmanship and treating computers with the disdain and mistrust they deserve.

However, the way in which businesses have embraced the world of computing means that general counsel need to become the first line of defence when it comes to compliance, according to an expert.

Alice Lin Geene, general counsel at Trustwave, argued that the terrifying emergence of the cloud and the increasing prevalence of bring-your-own-device policies have changed the business world fundamentally.

"Meanwhile, data volumes continue to escalate at an incredible rate, making data management a top-of-mind challenge for many organisations," she added, writing in Law magazine.

But what can in-house lawyers do? Shouldn't they be leaving all this boring tech stuff to the guys in the third floor office with the Battlestar Galactica posters and the 'hilarious' t-shirts with ironic slogans?

First of all, don't be so silly - IT is a booming profession and attracts people of all stripes, even - brace yourself - women. Secondly, no - general counsel now need to be aware of the potential threats their business faces through its use of on and off-line technology.

"More than ever, corporations need to have cybersecurity policies and plans in place to help safeguard corporate data and minimize exposure to legal and regulatory risks," concluded Ms Geene.

Data security breaches can have an absolutely devastating impact on businesses, leading to a loss of custom and damaging their reputation as well as potentially causing them to lose a great deal of money.

General counsel need to work closely with the IT team in their business to decide both how to counter these threats and how to react if they occur. So go up to that third floor office and cast those Big Bang Theory-based aspersions aside.