Take steps to protect your law firm
With all the sensitive and often personal data stored by law firms, it’s no surprise that law firm cybersecurity threats are at an all-time high. Regardless of practice area, law firms maintain a wealth of vital client information, valuable intellectual property, sensitive business information, and other confidential or proprietary data. As the legal industry shifts to remote and hybrid working, cybersecurity has never been more of a concern for law firms. In 2020 alone, the American Bar Association found that 29% of law firms surveyed had experienced some type of cyberattack, an increase of 3% from 2019. Unfortunately, only 34% of those surveyed had developed an attack response plan.
Law Firm Cybersecurity Threats
Cybersecurity is evolving. It’s no longer reserved for technology, but it’s now one of the biggest risks a law firm can face. In recent years, huge law firms in the United States have been caught up in major cybersecurity breaches that cost millions. Cybersecurity is not just in the IT department, or for small businesses, a risk not worth dealing with. It must be part of the general guidelines for the use of technology in the company – or in its service.
Cybersecurity is big business and some companies are too small to have the full weight of IT professionals behind them. Medium and large businesses may be delayed in preparing for cyberattacks due to cost, or they assume it won’t happen to them.
Overall, law firms were largely analog until recently. Lawyers and staff were manually tracking client and firm information, limiting the risk of a cyber breach. However, law firms are embracing innovation and clients are expecting more technologically advanced communications and approaches, which means law firms are now open to the risk of a cyberattack that does not did not exist before.
1. Backing up critical data
Data and intellectual property are critical to law firm operations. Attackers often install malware to block access to computers or the data on them, demanding a ransom to return the data (known as ransomware). This is a major concern for law firms, as a single ransomware attack could render huge volumes of data inaccessible.
With regular backups, however, a ransomware attack isn’t as critical. All vital data is copied and stored on an external hard drive or in a secure location separate from the network, ensuring the information is always accessible and safe during a cyberattack. It also minimizes the downtime a law firm can experience from an attack.
2. Regular Updates and Patches
Cyber attackers are good at finding ways to circumvent cybersecurity defenses. Software and operating systems that have not been regularly updated provide cyber attackers with entry points to exploit vulnerabilities and gain widespread access to the system and the data it contains.
Software updates are usually done to optimize performance or fix a bug, but they have the added benefit of increasing cybersecurity. Patches are a bit different and are intended to fix security vulnerabilities. These should always be applied as soon as they are available.
With legal management software through a vendor, software updates and patches are applied as needed, keeping a law firm’s network security as strong as possible.
3. Access control and authentication
Strong and complex passwords are an excellent line of defense against a cyberattack. Passwords prevent full access to accounts and the sensitive company or customer information and data they contain.
Unfortunately, law firms often have integrations with services and systems like DocuSign, DropBox, etc. If just one of these systems is compromised, an attacker could gain access to a lot of valuable information.
Throughout the law firm, all staff should have strong passwords that combine upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, or hard-to-guess phrases. When staff members rely on weak, easy-to-remember passwords, especially for multiple accounts, it is easier for attackers to see what other accounts they can access with a single password.
Tools like a password manager and multi-factor authentication add a layer of defense to ensure only verified staff members have access to the system. This way, even if an attacker obtains a password, they must go through multi-factor authentication to gain full control of the account.
Additionally, legal practice management allows law firms to set up different users for different access. All functions can be configured with specific user permissions and customizable user access. Entrepreneurs can have temporary access and law firms can automatically track logins to see if someone is misusing their credentials.
4. Virtual and physical protection
Data is not only vulnerable to attackers, but it can be vulnerable to external circumstances such as natural disasters and local outages. When this happens, valuable data may be lost or vulnerable.
The legal management software has geographically distributed data centers to minimize the effects of regional disruptions. They also feature redundant power systems and environmental controls to provide uninterrupted service 24/7. If service or upgrades are needed, the law firm experiences minimal downtime or disruption.
5. Cybersecurity Expertise
Lawyers are good at practicing law, not at building cybersecurity. It is best for law firms to outsource cybersecurity protocols and procedures to experts, which can be achieved with law firm management software.
Software vendors work with trusted third-party data security leaders to meet or exceed security standards, including offering policies and practices for world-class information security. This includes possible threats, how to respond to them, and vulnerabilities in devices such as desktop computers, smartphones, laptops, removable data storage, security cameras, etc.
Law firm management software can limit cybersecurity threats to law firms
Law practice management software has many benefits for a law firm, but one of its main ones is that it helps with cybersecurity. Threats are everywhere and expanding as firms add more users and technology, but understanding threats and implementing the right software solution can help law firms strengthen their defenses.
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