In mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and health authorities quickly recommended social distancing. This new society norm effectively mandated an unprecedented transition from office to remote work for lawyers and law firms.
"I don't think we've ever engaged in an exercise like this where so many businesses and so many organizations are working remotely," says Lisa Lifshitz, a partner in Torkin Manes LLP's business law group, who specializes in technology and privacy law.
Working from home raised two urgent questions: Technologically, were firms and lawyers ready to transition without disrupting workflow while protecting cybersecurity and client confidentiality? And what toll would these near-house-arrest-like conditions have on the well-being of lawyers and staff? But these uncertainties aside, some lawyers saw the sudden reliance on technology and the sense of freedom remote work provided as a long-overdue innovation.
With nearly all Canada's white-collar workforce suddenly operating off home Wi-Fi networks, there were concerns about whether the internet could even handle the tectonic shift, says Lifshitz. Netflix even pitched in to ease Canadian bandwidth by lowering its streaming quality. The new normal put lawyers and their home-work arrangements on the menu for hackers, says Lifshitz. Licking their lips, cybercriminals see employees working at home like a hyena sees a baby gazelle who's been detached from the herd.
"People aren't stupid. The hackers are definitely going to see this as an opportunity to engage in further nefarious activity," says Lifshitz. "There'll definitely be more spoofing and phishing. . . . So that's definitely going to be a concern."
This article was published in Canadian Lawyer. To read the complete article, visit the Canadian Lawyer website.
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