Despite the growing threat of computer security breaches, some 30 percent of general counsel in a recent survey said their companies were not prepared to deal with such a crisis. And experts say more GCs need to overcome their technophobia and help their firms face the increasing risk.
"Among the most fearsome threats facing corporations in 2012 was an increasing proliferation of cybersecurity breaches of various orders of complexity and impact," according to the "2012 General Counsel Survey," by global consultants Consero Group. The survey, produced in partnership with Applied Discovery Inc., is based on responses from 48 general counsel in December 2012.
"From terrorism to competitive attacks to random hacking, global businesses have their hands full keeping systems and data safe," the report warned.
"Indeed, the stakes are high for general counsel in this areaparticularly in highly regulated industries," it said.
Some 28 percent of the GCs surveyed indicated that their companies had experienced a cybersecurity breach over the last 12 months. And that figure may be low.
"It's safe to assume that a breach is a source of great anxiety and embarrassment for large companies. So there is a natural disinclination to report it," explained attorney Paul Mandell, founder and chief executive of Consero. The group is located in Bethesda, Md.
"But cybersecurity was clearly a very hot topic and a source of concern for the general counsel," Mandell added.
The theft of company data by employees is also a growing concern, Mandell said, and "there was quite a bit of discussion [among general counsel] about employees bringing their own devices [BYOD] to work. It's a huge issue."
So far there is very little understanding of what the best practices are in the BYOD area, he said.
Mandell explained that much of the anxiety about cybersecurity stems from "lawyers not generally being tech savvy by nature," and the fact that no one has found a perfect solution for protecting data.