A Comprehensive Guide to Cybersecurity for Law Firms

A Comprehensive Guide to Cybersecurity for Law Firms

Attorneys regularly handle sensitive information and material in running their practice. This is why it’s imperative for law firms to prioritize privacy and security.

Clients expect their information to be protected at all times. If a law firm can’t provide secure legal services, their clients won’t stick around for long.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your law firm’s data. By implementing a proactive approach to security — and taking advantage of powerful tools and technologies — you significantly reduce the chances of a data breach occurring. Our guide can help you stay on top of your law firm’s cybersecurity.

Assess your current cybersecurity posture

Understanding your law firm’s cybersecurity posture is essential to recognizing where you stand regarding preventing breaches and intrusions. Once you determine where your practice is vulnerable, you can begin planning to create a more secure environment.

Consider areas that could pose security threats by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What methods and tools do you use to store and share confidential client data safely?
  • Do your business computers have baseline protections?
  • What are the security features of the email service your law firm uses?
  • Do you have a system for monitoring and managing your legal team’s internet usage?
  • How do attorneys keep things secure while working outside of the office?

Assessing the health of your security systems is a great way to uncover issues that could be plaguing your law firm. Consequently, doing so also allows you to better prioritize actions, investments, and partners with a complete picture of potential risks.

Look into cybersecurity threats that could affect your law firm

While cyberattacks and other IT security issues can affect any business, there are threats that law firms must be wary of in particular. These include:

  • Ransomware – This is a type of malicious software that gains and subsequently blocks access to your files, devices, or systems. Perpetrators hold these hostage and “guarantee” to restore access only after you pay a ransom. This cyberthreat has been known to shut down law firms until the ransom is paid or the perpetrators are caught.
  • Viruses – These are often spread through email attachments, internet file downloads, and scam links. Being infected can cause severe damage to your electronic data. Viruses can slow down your PC performance, cause programs to crash, reformat your hard drive, delete your files, and more. In the worst case, they can cause a complete system failure.
  • Hacktivists – This refers to hackers who carry out acts of social or political activism by breaking into and wreaking havoc on computer systems. You could be more susceptible to this type of threat depending on the field of law you’re in. That is, hacktivists could take issue with the clients you represent or the actual business you conduct.
  • Insider threatsInsider threats can be malicious insider behavior, negligent behavior, and accidental behavior. Since law firms tend to deal with a lot of sensitive information and material, there are more risks associated with a disgruntled employee acting for financial or personal gain as compared to other business types.

    But often, data loss and exposure within law practices are simply results of human error. It’s common for security issues to arise from weak passwords, unsecured Wi-Fi, misplacing physical files, and accidentally downloading infected files and email attachments.

  • Remote work security issues – Remote work is still widespread due in part to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But this practice has long been part of the legal field, as attorneys often have to meet with clients or work outside of regular hours to complete tasks. So while there’s nothing inherently wrong with working off-site or from home, it poses additional security issues for your law firm.

    Attorneys or staff could be connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks or using old computers and outdated software for work. They could also be leaving their devices unattended while working in public areas such as a coffee shop or restaurant. These seemingly harmless activities could, in fact, be putting your firm and your data at risk of loss or theft.

Implement cybersecurity best practices

Although there's no way to completely eradicate cybersecurity threats, there are key practices you can implement to keep your law firm’s data secure. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Protect locally stored data. It’s important to continuously monitor and actively avoid potential threats to data and files stored on your network and office computers and laptops. To do this, you must make sure your network and devices utilize up-to-date firewalls, antivirus software, and spam filters at all times.
  2. Keep software up to date. Software updates typically include essential changes to fix or boost the performance and stability of an app as well as remove its outdated features. These improvements often incorporate critical patches to security vulnerabilities, so it’s highly recommended to enable automatic updates to ensure protection against the latest known threats.
  3. Perform routine backups. If a cyberattack deletes or blocks access to your data, you can easily restore your files if you have a clean and up-to-date backup. Therefore, it’s crucial to routinely back up multiple copies of critical data on local storage devices and in the cloud. It also pays to check your backups regularly to ensure they’re working correctly.
  4. Provide comprehensive security training for employees. This includes educating your partners and staff on how to use your systems correctly and securely. Additionally, teaching them how to identify suspicious activities through simulations can help them detect and protect themselves against common online security threats.
  5. Consider outsourcing cybersecurity to experts. Securing data isn’t a one-off task, and depending on the amount and importance of the client information and materials you hold, you may need to protect against a number of potential threats. Professional cybersecurity services can help you develop and implement a data security strategy that can save your firm thousands of dollars in costs related to breaches and intrusions.

Your law firm will be far more secure when your data is managed proactively by cybersecurity specialists like Integrated Computer Services. We are trained in the nuances of IT security and offer a wide range of services to help guard against internal and external threats. Take the first step to safeguarding your law firm by calling us today.

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