With the advancement in technology, law firms have streamlined their work processes to the best of their advantage. The latest use of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning has led firms towards enhanced work quality and productivity. But, there is a dark side to the technology as well in the form of cyber attacks, which includes breaching the sensitive data of the law firms.
This data holds immense importance in the eyes of fraudsters since it consists of personal details of the employees and clients, along with trade secrets, financial details, and business transactions. Apart from this, sensitive data of the paralegals, proofreaders, contract attorneys, and other partners is also at great risk, explains an outsourcing provider for legal support services.
Biggest Cybersecurity Threats to Law Firms
Cybercriminals are always looking for the most sophisticated ways to gain access to the sensitive information of law firms. Although the number of cybersecurity threats are increasing day by day, the following three are probably the biggest ones against which law firms need to take immediate security measures.
Top 3 Cybersecurity Threats
Ransomware is a process of hacking law firm systems and downloading sensitive information of the clients. This information is leveraged by cybercriminals against the exchange of a heavy amount by the law firms. In other words, fraudsters get control of the law firm in their hands and demand a heavy price to return.
2. Sensitive Information Leak
There are some cyber attacks that are solely aimed at leaking the sensitive information of law firms online. Such attacks are directed towards bringing down the credibility of a law firm in the eyes of potential clients. An example of such a cyberattack was witnessed in March 2018 when the Duncan Lewis firm was targeted, and its clients’ and employees’ data was posted on the social media platform. Law firms that provide legal support services need to specifically prepare themselves for such attacks as these attacks are mostly conducted by their competitors.
3. Malpractice Risk
Law firms are at the risk of being taken to court by their clients if they fail to protect the sensitive information of their clients. It is the responsibility of the law firms to provide overall protection to the client data and take every precautionary security measure to avoid being a cyberattack target. Johnson & Bell took the law firm to court for this very reason leading to the firm’s financial and credibility loss.
Data Breach Impact on Law Firms
- The FBI issued a warning in 2016 stating hackers trying to target large law firms for insider trading purposes.
- DLA Piper’s operations were shut down in June 2017 owing to a massive cyber attack for ransomware.
- LOGICFORCE, a cybersecurity firm, warned against law firms’ common vulnerabilities to hackers’ malware.
- American Bar Association reported an increase in data breaches from 14% to 22% during a 2017 survey.
- A Washington based law firm stated it observed an increase in cyber attacks of 500% in just two years.
- As per Law360, around 1500 policyholders of commercial insurance lost their personal data owing to a hack.
- The crypto jacking hacks, which use mobiles and laptops for cryptocurrency harvest, pose a new type of cyber threat to law firms.
Top Ways to Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks
It is vital for law firms to assess their security standards. The hardware and software should be updated consistently in order to resist the latest cyber attacks. Apart from this, prioritising the security of servers and printer software is also essential.
In-depth Evaluation of Cybersecurity
An in-depth evaluation of the cybersecurity practices is essential since a lot of sensitive data is available to the employees of the law firm. This includes the installation of up-to-date antivirus software, password encryption, authentication procedure for employees based on two factors, passwords stored in a safe file, and more.
Maintaining Security Standards
It is extremely vital for law firms to follow the international security standards set by the likes of CIS, ISO, and NIST in order to prevent some of the biggest cyber attacks.
Observing Behavior of Employees
It is true that most of the cyber attacks are facilitated by the employees of the law firm itself. This makes it imperative for the law firms to monitor offline as well as online activities of its employees.
Training the Staff
Hackers often gain access through mobile apps, emails, corrupted links, etc. Most of the employees of law firms are not aware of the corrupted links and unintentionally open them, providing hackers access to sensitive information. It is important to train your staff against such types of vulnerabilities to make sure hackers do not succeed due to the carelessness of the staff.
The client and case files information should be encrypted to have an extra layer of protection during storage. Since a lot of files are shared on a daily basis on various sharing platforms, it is important to send the files in encrypted mode for a security boost.
Analysis Program for Detecting Unusual Activities
This is one of the most effective ways to handle cybersecurity issues. Every time the system is used, this program becomes active. If the system is being used from an unfamiliar place, the program can block outside access and save the relevant information. Apart from this, this program is capable of detecting any kind of malicious program installation.
With the above post, it has been concluded that lawyers need to tune into the latest technology issues and have knowledge regarding the most appropriate tools for cybersecurity. It is not just the clients towards whom the law firms have the responsibility of securing the data but towards their own firm’s credibility as well. For this, hiring security professionals and having a security plan in place in advance is important to stay strong against the rising data breaches in the law firms.
About the Author:
Cathrine Troyer writes about law office management, technology, and business law. She is passionate about teaching lawyers and legal professionals on how to renew their strategies and use technology in their cases and does so regularly for her clients at Cogneesol.
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