Why Your In-House Job Is at Risk Over Cybersecurity

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 07, 2017 11:58 AM

The Russians are putting your job at risk.

No, that's not the latest tweet from President Trump. That's just the cyberchain that connects the modern lawyer's job security to some hacker a world away.

This is no joke, or at least not a very good one, especially to Yahoo's general counsel. Ron Bell was fired after the company discovered massive security breaches, including activity from a state-sponsored actor. Like I said, the Russians.

But whether Bell was the fall-guy for legal missteps or the hackers were better than the Yahoo lawyers at their jobs, the bottom line is the same. Your job is at risk, too.

Wake Up, Counselor

According to government filings, Bell resigned from his general counsel role with "[n]o payments ... in connection with his resignation." Yahoo said that certain senior executives and members of its legal team "had sufficient information to warrant substantial further inquiry" about a hack by a state-sponsored actor, but "they did not sufficiently pursue it."

The events send several messages to attorneys, such as do "substantial further inquiry" or else. Silicon Valley lawyers charged with cybersecurity tasks defended Bell, but acknowledged that job security is an issue as well.

"The in-house lawyer who is trying to protect himself or herself needs to be able to clearly communicate and have channels available to them to escalate these issues within the legal department and within the organization," Edward McAndrew, a partner at Ballard Spahr responsible for privacy and data security, told Corporate Counsel. "You need to be able to communicate risk through a chain of command to be sure decision makers have all the information."

Eastern Europe Is Calling

Meanwhile, reports show that cyber attacks are increasing world wide. In Eastern Europen, hackers are remotely targeting banks and ATM machines.

In one of the biggest digital heists ever, hackers siphoned off $81 million from a central bank in Bangladesh through a messaging system. Russian banks lost over $28 million in a series of wire-fraud cases.

Not everyone believes the Yahoo attacks came from a state-sponsored hack. However, the company still fired its chief attorney and connected lawyers' job security to cybersecurity.

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