The legal industry is in the midst of a storm. Although for a long time, the legal sector did not feel the need to advance technologically, today, they are using hi-tech devices and the latest software. This reactive approach has enabled law firms to lead the way in implementing strategic and tech-based solutions designed to streamline processes. While it is true that technology powers the core activities of law firms, it can also expose these businesses to operational and reputational risks caused by cybercriminals. In this blog post, we will discuss cyber security for law firms, and will walk you through the main cyber security threats law firms are facing in 2021.
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Why cybercriminals are targeting law firms?
The law firms have a collective responsibility to protect the highly sensitive data they hold and share on a daily basis between individuals, teams, and third parties. Criminals target law firms because they can get access to technical secrets and business strategies on top of the abovementioned information. Nowadays, more and more practices outsource their work to external specialist suppliers to reduce costs and provide a wider service portfolio. Hence, the need to properly share sensitive information with third parties is greater than ever before.
Law firms are under significant pressure
With law firms in control of clients’ sensitive information, they have a difficult duty to keep this information secured from unauthorized access. The risk of a cyberattack should not be overlooked because there are no expectations of cyberattacks to reverse in the near future. Hence, law firms will need to take proactive measures to make sure that they protect not only their clients but also themselves. According to the American Bar Association’s “Cybersecurity Tech Report“, 26% of law firms have suffered a form of a security breach in 2019.
If law firms are not able to secure the valuable information in their custody, they are certainly leaving their doors open for likely cyberattacks. When this happens, the firm’s reputation will be damaged and the firm or lawyer could face legal action for not putting necessary steps to impede the data breach resulting in clients’ information ending up in the hands of cybercriminals.
What kind of threats do law firms face?
Here we discuss some of the threats faced by law firms.
- Malware or malicious software: Malicious software was originally developed as a form of cyber vandalism, breaking computers, or modifying your background, and accessing your personal information. A common alternative description of malware is a computer virus, although there are substantial differences between these types of malicious software.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a form of malware that stops users from accessing their personal files. The attacker then demands a ransom from the victim to reinstate access to the data upon payment and criminals order that payment be delivered mostly via cryptocurrency.
- Worms: A worm is a self-replicating malicious program that can spread throughout a network without human assistance. Worms exploit holes in security software and possibly stealing sensitive information from the users. Worms are not viruses. Viruses need a host computer whereas the worm program operates alone.
- Website vulnerabilities: A website vulnerability refers to a weakness, system flaw, or misconfiguration in a web application code that enables an attacker to obtain some level of command of the site, and potentially the hosting server.
Cyber security trends for law firms
Let’s take a look at 3 cyber security trends for law firms that are likely to shape the cyber security landscape in 2021.
Heightened consumer privacy
Today, more and more corporate clients are requiring law firms to indicate proof of their ongoing security and monitoring to protect their sensitive information. For that reason, it is crucial that law firms understand where sensitive client data lies, how it is being secured, what administrative and technical measures they take to protect confidential information.
Another important question law firms must ask is: do we have third-party vendors who need access to our files to do their job and what information is being shared with third-party vendors? Law firms have ethical and common law duties to take competent and proactive measures to safeguard information pertaining to their partners and clients. In the light of protecting consumer privacy, making proactive efforts require a risk-based analysis, evaluating the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure if additional safeguards are not employed. All in all, law firms are entrusted with people’s information, hence they must reserve the utmost respect and attention.
Cloud migrations may seem straightforward, however, they are highly complex undertakings. It demands substantial upfront thought and comprehensive preparation to ensure efficient resource use and risk management, within the budget implementation, and eventually operational success.
That being said, there are many advantages of moving to the cloud for law firms. For instance, clients have been pressuring their law firm partners for the greatest transparency and stronger cooperation for a long time now. Unsurprisingly, the level of cooperation that clients seek can only be supported by cloud-based technology. The key point here is that organizations should maintain the same levels of visibility and control of their data in the cloud as they had before. According to a “Law Firm Cloud Survey” by Fish & Richardson, 78% of law firms store client data in the cloud and another 8% plan to follow this path very soon.
Implementation of email encryption
Business email is skyrocketing. Mobile email access is improving productivity for employees worldwide. While the business use of email is on the rise, it poses several potential avenues for harming an organization. Practically speaking, a single email exposure incident can result in all sorts of problems, including financial loss and legal ramifications. Unprotected email presents a serious risk to a law firm’s most sensitive data.
Given the problem, it is time for legal businesses to consider email encryption that aims to secure email communications with customers and partners. Email encryption grants organizations a ready-to-use cryptographic technology that ensures only authorized users can access the contents of email messages. Simply put, email encryption is what makes data worthless in the wrong hands, so that law firms must encrypt their client correspondence.
Final thoughts on cyber security trends for law firms
In a profession based on precedent, the practice of law has to keep pace with the advancements in technology to continue to preserve the legal duties owed to the clients. In this blog post, we discussed why law firms are the new target for cybercriminals and cyber security for law firms in 2021 that will drive significant opportunities over the next several years.