Why is cybersecurity important for law firms?

Why is cybersecurity important for law firms?

Cybersecurity threats and attacks are a growing concern across many professions, with the growing use of digital devices, social media, and mobile apps. Law firms often must deal with sensitive client data. They need to implement effective security measures to ensure the security of their clients and their own internal data.

What cyber-attacks can law firms encounter? 

One of the most common cyber-attacks is a data breach. It’s usually a result of employee negligence, delivered as phishing emails, or a third-party compromise. To protect client data, it is important to implement identity management software and conduct regular password changes. 

Even disgruntled employees can pose a threat to law firm cybersecurity, especially if they take client data with them. The importance of keeping data and devices secure cannot be overstated. With the capability for employees to commonly access confidential information on their personal smartphones or laptops, it is crucial that law firm’s security practices are vigilant to protect against cyber-attacks that could result in damages but also loss of thousands if not millions of dollars in client relationships as well!

Malware is malicious software used to disrupt computer systems and gain access to confidential information. Malware can be distributed through phishing emails and malicious websites redirected to a law firm’s employee email account, or even embedded in applications and games downloaded from the Internet. It can also be distributed via file storage. Keystroke loggers can be distributed through this method to record sensitive information, like passwords. 

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents the user from accessing their data or computer system and demands a ransom in exchange for returning access. It usually disguises itself as a legitimate application and spreads through phishing emails, malicious websites, and remote access tools. Some examples of ransomware are Crypto Locker and WannaCry.

A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack involves an attacker using multiple computers to send traffic to servers that prevent users from accessing the server resources. DDoS attacks can disrupt a law firm’s work for days, even weeks, and cause significant financial losses. If a law firm has a website, it can also potentially be targeted by cybercriminals using DDoS-style attacks. The victim’s website receives several requests for access, which can overload its server and disrupt service for all users. 

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that targets an organization or individual through email or other communication channels. A phishing email can be designed to look like it comes from an organization the recipient trusts. The email may contain malware or ransomware, known as malicious attachments. A law firm can encounter phishing attempts through emails that appear to come from clients or prospective clients. 

Law firms are targeted by cybercriminals who want to infiltrate the network and steal valuable data and critical information such as client files and case information.  In addition, firms can be easy targets because they often have many employees that deal with sensitive information. Cybercriminals seek the use of compromised information to commit fraud or extort money from the firm or its clients.

What cyber security for law firms can be applied? 

Some tools utilized to protect law firms include Firewalls, anti-spyware, passwords, two-factor authentication, antivirus software, intrusion detection, and prevention. Encryption is another strong security measure that protects data in storage as well as network traversal. Encryption is considered necessary and fundamental for protecting stolen devices like laptops. 

Standards for the protection of confidential information 

There are different standards for the protection of confidential information. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the Information Technology Security Association (ITSA), and the American Bar Association (ABA) all have guidelines for the protection of confidential information. It is important to protect client data with appropriate identity management software, such as Identity Governance, which can identify and control access to secure files and networks.

When it comes to protecting client data, law firms need a balance between security and accessibility. For example: privileged or confidential documents should be stored in an encrypted format with password protection; however non-sensitive emails such as meeting notes can still reside on shared drives without any encryption enabled at all! 

In addition to the legal requirements of confidentiality, it is also extremely important to protect clients’ data due to ethical considerations. Therefore, we recommend being thoughtful when utilizing popular consumer-type cloud services such as OneDrive, Google Drive, or DropBox for legal work. You should understand the risk and functionality before implementing any cloud storage option. For example, what happens if Microsoft i.e. OneDrive gets a blind subpoena for your data stored in one drive? The data can be encrypted from such a blind subpoena, but this needs set up beforehand. 

Some of the information that could be shared unknowingly with a client through consumer cloud technologies is metadata and version numbers. Especially, when utilizing services like OneDrive, GoogleDrive and DropBox make sure you are not sharing Metadata. Metadata could contain details about documents, such as their format, author, file locations or authoring style; while versions indicate changes made to files over time - which might not necessarily mean anything bad has happened but just shows how much work was put into revisions. 

In ethics opinion NO. 259 (November 29, 2012), the Mississippi Ethics Committee applied rule 1.6 to a question involving a lawyer's duties concerning electronic metadata within client documents and concluded that "an attorney has an affirmative duty to take reasonable precautions to ensure that confidential metadata is not inadvertently revealed by an electronic document."

Tips to improve law firm cybersecurity

Law firms should keep in mind that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. Staff should be informed about cybersecurity threats and how they can be prevented. This also includes educating staff on how to identify phishing emails and other scams, which are the most common way to compromise a law firm. To prevent unauthorized access to companies’ electronic documents and systems, a law firm needs to implement strong security measures.

It is accepted that lawyers may ethically use cloud computing, but they must exercise reasonable care. At BeCloud, we refer to the Texas ethics opinion 680 and recommend that lawyers remain vigilant about data security issues when using technology including email.  The Texas ethics opinion list reasonable expectations for attorneys utilizing cloud technologies.

Cybersecurity for law firms with Becloud Managed secureIT Services

Lawyers must ensure that client information is always kept confidential. Attorneys who use technology, including email servers on-premise or cloud storage, should take precautions to protect themselves from hacking attacks by staying vigilant about security issues early on when implementing these types of services into their workflow

Becloud ManagedIT helps law firms strengthen their defenses against all kinds of cyber threats with a combination of managed antivirus security, advanced web protection, and proactive tech support. We can also include enterprise-class cloud backup services. We perform periodic security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify cybersecurity gaps and make recommendations for improvement. Our engineers even offer free cybersecurity awareness training. Our services can be conducted according to your own risk appetite or tailored to a specific type of threat.

In Conclusion:

Becloud’s secureIT services include Cyber security – continuous security monitoring and risk assessments and awareness training.

– Backup – secure backup and data recovery solutions.

Managed IT services – dedicated experts managing your IT infrastructure, freeing up your staff’s time. If our recommendations are followed, we enable our legal customers to meet and exceed ethics responsibilities for all client and internal confidential data.

James Phipps 5 November, 2022
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