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Legal Duty to Upgrade Microsoft Windows

breach protection

In a law office, you need currently supported versions of your Microsoft Windows software for protection from potential disciplinary action. That means Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 don't cut it anymore.

If you have already upgraded, great! If not, you risk serious damage from security breaches and exposure to disciplinary actions. Time to upgrade now!

Upgrade Microsoft Windows

Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), Confidentiality of Information, requires that:

"A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client."

And according to Rule 1.1, Comment 8:
"...[A] lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology...."

In the highly publicized security breaches occurring on a daily basis, attackers gain unauthorized access through security holes in unpatched operating systems. So, if lawyers fail to follow an industry standards and their systems are breached as a result, they are in trouble. Every list of basic security requirements emphasizes the importance regular updates and replacement of obsolete, unsupported software.

Caution: You may have other, older or newer software programs that may not be compatible with the current Microsoft Windows versions. Please obtain advice concerning all your important programs before going ahead with a Windows upgrade. If it is essential for you to continue using old software on an unsupported Microsoft product, you may have a reasonable alternative. That alternative involves isolating the machine running the obsolete software. In these cases, you would be wise to work with an expert to document the protective steps that have been taken and the reasons for continuing to use the old software.

Inertia - it is the biggest reason that people do not upgrade their software. Lawyers face not just loss of clients from security breaches. Disciplinary actions are another strong incentive for giving upgrades and updates top priority.

As of January, 2020:

  • Windows 7 needed to be replaced with Windows 10.
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 needed to be upgraded to a recent version.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 should have been replaced with SQL Server 2019 or another recent version.

If you have questions about upgrading your Windows software or the compatibility of your other programs with the new version, please let me know.

Wells H. Anderson - 888-922-1120 - moc.mrifymeruces@ofni

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