These days, anything that’s stored or sent digitally seems to be fair game for cybercrime. Personal information, banking or credit card information, and even social media accounts are stolen every day for various reasons, some more nefarious than others. Unfortunately, law firms are no exception.
This presents a real problem, as law firms use and store lots of personal information through the course of their work. From social security numbers to banking accounts and beyond, the data used by law firms is a prime target for hackers. As a result, law firms are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals and need to be especially vigilant in securing and protecting their digital files.
So what are the most common cybersecurity risks for law firms, and how can you avoid them? Read on to find out!
COMMON THREATS TO LAW FIRMS
Though cyberattacks are constantly evolving, there are 4 cybersecurity risks that law firms are currently facing. Those include social engineering, ransomware, data leaks, and legal ramifications of poor security. Let’s take a look at each.
Social engineering is a broad term for the practice of manipulating users out of sensitive information. Most hackers do this by creating false identities to market themselves as trusted businesses or individuals and scamming you out of passwords or other authenticating information. Another name for this is phishing. One example would be an email that reports suspicious activity and asks you to confirm or enter your password into a fake, yet convincing, scam website. Once hackers have access to your accounts they can access your data, shut down your account, or wreak havoc on your network.
Lawyers may fall prey to phishing scams, but it’s often used on unsuspecting clients. Hackers use domain names similar to your firm’s to con your clients out of their information. This works surprisingly well since lawyers are seen as highly trusted individuals.
To combat social engineering attacks, enable multi-factor authentication on all sensitive accounts and files. It’s also helpful to provide security and compliance training to your staff to teach them to recognize and avoid security scams.
Ransomware is a common form of malware that holds your data hostage in exchange for payment. File systems and databases are the most common sources of attack for law firms because their information is necessary to process cases, making it more likely that the ransom will be paid to get the data back.
Ransomware affects legal professionals both big and small. In 2019, the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts was forced to shut down its online operations after falling victim to a ransomware attack. It was suspected that the attack was done by a foreign government to test security measures.
If you’re a victim of ransomware, do not engage the extortionists. Instead, shut down affected departments and consult your IT Professionals about file recovery. Having a professional system in place like our Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan can help reduce the damage caused by ransomware attacks.
Data leaks are just that – when hackers divulge sensitive or confidential information to the masses. This can be done for a variety of reasons, from furthering political or social agendas to revenge, among others. One of the biggest examples of this was in 2017 when Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca experienced a data leak that released more than 11.5 million firm documents, an event that came to be known as the Panama Papers.
To best protect your data, keep your security software updated and always accept patches and updates. This will help stay on top of security vulnerabilities that hackers can use to access your data. Of course, make sure you use a high-quality security program like our Cybersecurity Threat Protection to best protect your information.
Legal Ramifications of Poor Security
Cybercrime doesn’t even have to be committed to negatively affect your law firm. Due to law firms handling such sensitive information, they have a duty to protect it from security breaches. This doesn’t happen as often as you’d think – one study shows that 40% of law firms have been hacked and don’t even know it. If you aren’t properly securing your data, you could be at risk of malpractice or other legal allegations.
We see this in the Coinabul v. Johnson case, in which a client of Illinois-based Johnson & Bell alleged malpractice due to security concerns. The firm wasn’t hacked, but the precedent was set – protect your data, or face the legal consequences.
If you aren’t making IT security a priority, you could be putting your firm, license, and reputation at risk. If you don’t have a separate IT department, outsourcing your security to a professional is the best way to protect yourself and your law firm from the devastating effects of cyberattacks.
BIS Solutions offers a range of IT security services, from software to network monitoring and more. Our professionals can provide expert advice, tools, and services to protect your data and keep your firm ethically compliant. Contact us today for a consultation.
Phillip Long – CISSP, CEO of , along with his team of marketing and information technology experts, will walk you through an overview of what your business should be doing to protect your data and plan your digital marketing strategies.
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