Cybersecurity Threats in the Legal Industry: Safeguarding Client
Cyber attacks have targeted around 25% of law firms, resulting in monetary theft in almost 10% of cases. Cybercriminals often evolve even faster than cyber defenses. Plus, they have at their disposal the already classic methods of phishing and data theft. You need to sensibly assess your cybersecurity and take appropriate protective measures.
The Importance of Cybersecurity for Law Firms
To safeguard sensitive data and personal information, governments globally have enforced strict cybersecurity regulations, addressing the rising concerns of data breaches. These include the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) revised Safeguards Rule, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) advancements, as well as emerging state Safe Harbor Laws and other specific requirements within various industries and regions.
Trust is vital for legal enterprises to thrive, as they must prioritize client confidentiality, a cornerstone of their profession. When seeking legal counsel, clients rightly expect their information to be kept private. By implementing strong cybersecurity measures, these enterprises can uphold their professional obligations and maintain their clients’ trust. Breaching client confidentiality could harm the firm’s reputation and hinder its ability to attract new clients.
Law firms heavily depend on digital systems to manage and store data, making cybersecurity a top priority. Ensuring the protection of client data is not only a professional, ethical, and legal requirement but also crucial for maintaining uninterrupted business operations. Implementing robust cybersecurity measures such as data backups, disaster recovery plans, and incident response protocols helps minimize the impact of potential incidents and guarantees business continuity while safeguarding clients’ interests.
How to Increase Cybersecurity for Law Firms?
#1 Use a VPN
If your company uses remote workers or its employees can connect from outside, it needs a reliable VPN with advanced VPN security features. First-level services, such as VeePN, guarantee reliable data encryption and protection against leaks and hacker attacks. Additionally, VeePN protects against viruses, phishing, and tracking.
#2 Strengthen Your Authentication System
To protect against attackers, it is crucial to have strong and intricate passwords. A strong password acts as the first line of defense, preventing unauthorized access to your accounts and safeguarding sensitive data related to clients and operations.
Consider the numerous services and systems that your firm relies on daily, such as DropBox, DocuSign, and Clio. Additionally, do not overlook the custom systems used for case management and billing. If attackers were to obtain credentials for any of these systems, they would gain access to a wealth of valuable data.
When creating passwords, it is best to include a unique combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and keyboard symbols. Another recommended approach is to employ a hard-to-guess passphrase that incorporates these elements.
#3 Back Up Your Critical Data
Law firms rely heavily on data and intellectual property (IP) to function smoothly. Unfortunately, malicious individuals exploit ransomware attacks to install harmful software that blocks access to computer systems and data. They demand monetary compensation in exchange for restoring access.
Ransomware attacks pose a significant threat to law firms worldwide, as they can lead to a substantial amount of information becoming inaccessible. As an illustration, in June 2023, HWL Ebsworth, one of Australia’s prominent law firms, fell victim to a ransomware attack resulting in theft of 3.6 terabytes of information. While the firm obtained an injunction to prevent unauthorized disclosure of the stolen data, it is worth mentioning that 1.1 terabytes of this data were leaked online after HWL Ebsworth refused to comply with the ransom demands.
#4 Pay Attention to Employee Training
Law firms face three major cyber threats: ransomware, phishing, and business email compromise (BEC). These threats rely on social engineering techniques to trick users into opening harmful links or files, as well as sharing their credentials. Opportunistic attackers exploit global trends, such as running phishing campaigns where they impersonate OpenAI and ChatGPT. These scams aim to obtain personal details by deceiving users into believing they need to complete registration.
In the UK, phishing accounts for 83% of attacks on businesses and poses a significant threat to the legal sector. It is the top attack type that the NCSC warns about in 2023.
#5 Routine Risk Assessments
To safeguard against and identify suspicious activity and potential data breaches, it is crucial for a law firm’s IT department or an outside vendor to regularly carry out security risk assessments, vulnerability scans, penetration tests, and system and network monitoring. Relying solely on antivirus software is insufficient to detect sophisticated attacks, some of which can go undetected for months or even years.
#6 Update Your Software Regularly
Attackers are constantly searching for ways to bypass your defenses. If you fail to update your software or operating systems, or neglect patching them, you may be leaving vulnerabilities wide open for attackers to exploit and gain unauthorized access to your systems and data.
Software updates mainly enhance performance or resolve software or operating system glitches. However, the patches are a bit different. They are specific updates created by developers to address security vulnerabilities. Essentially, all patches are software updates, but not all software updates are patches.
Cybersecurity for the legal sector should be a top priority. Otherwise, serious consequences may occur, including those associated with large financial costs: fines from the regulator, loss of customer trust, ransoming of data, etc. It is much more profitable and reliable to take preventive measures against cyber risks.