Data Security Practices for Court Reporters

February 20th, 2019
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Court reporting firms handle confidential, sensitive information on a routine basis. The deposition, hearing, or Grand Jury transcripts they produce often contain trade secrets, details about a person's medical or psychological history, and business or personal financial information. Additionally, medical, technical, and financial records are often entered into the record as exhibits the reporting firm takes possession of at the end of the proceeding.

Transcripts (with their accompanying exhibits) are almost always delivered electronically, in addition to the hard copy original. How can court reporters make sure they're keeping this vital information secure?

·         Backup your data regularly. That is a simple admonition, but often ignored. Information loss isn't always due to hacking; sometimes it's due to a technical glitch destroying files that are not backed up or a laptop that's stolen or accidentally destroyed. Use a password-protected external hard drive (preferably stored in a safe when not in use) or a secure cloud-based service, and back up at the end of every work day at a minimum.

·         Use complex passwords, and a secure password management program. Your laptop and mobile devices should all be locked when not in your physical presence, and your email account and court reporting software passwords should be unique, complex, and backed up in a password manager like Dashlane.

·         Keep your anti-virus and anti-malware definitions up to date, and run regular scans. It's not fun, but if you keep up with it you might avoid your computer automatically applying an update at an extremely inopportune time.

·         Use two-factor authentication. In case you are unable to access your online accounts and need to reset your password, two-factor authentication ensures that you're actually the person resetting the password.

·         Look at all email attachments with a critical eye. Even if (especially if) an email attachment is coming from a known contact, be wary of downloading attachments that you're not expecting. Malware or ransomware can be installed on your computer when you open a PDF, a Word doc, a ZIP file, or any type of file, really. Confirm with the sender that they really sent that attachment before you open it.

·         Keep your software up to date. As with anti-virus and anti-malware definitions, software updates can patch security vulnerabilities and are critical to data security.

·         Make sure any ancillary services you use have strong security protocols. For example, video conference providers like Zoom ensure that data captured during a video conference deposition is secure. Any website or software program that comes in contact with confidential information should list the types of security protocols they utilize to keep your data safe.

A court reporter's duty as the guardian of the record applies even in cyberspace. At Legal Media Experts, we take that duty seriously. Schedule your next deposition today using our online scheduling toolor calling 800-446-1387.