Law firms are a prime target for hackers. It is not hard to figure out why.
They contain valuable, confidential information about the clients that they serve. For their clients who are businesses or companies, law firms hold information about anything from their IP, medical records, employee records to sensitive bank information, and even information about government bodies they may have been involved with.
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But the fact is that law firms are also an easy target for hackers trawling the internet for prey. Law firms have been known to be inattentive on the security front, in spite of the nature of data they hold. The recent string of cyber attacks on law firms, including some operating on a global scale such as DLA Piper, should serve as a much-needed wake-up call to law firms to become vigilant and beef up their security systems.
Luckily for law firms, that is not such a difficult task anymore. These measures will enable them to easily navigate the world of security against cyber threats, obviating the need for expensive attempts at data recovery (which may not even be successful) and/or restructuring of existing systems in the aftermath of a cyber attack.
Tips & Tricks to Secure your Law Firm Data
1. Stricter Permission Control
Your firm’s permission control should be stringent. It has to be monitored and reviewed regularly. Permission to files and data should be granted on a need-to-know basis only. Even higher-ups in the C-suite should have only limited, controlled access to sensitive information.
Specific client matters should only be made available to the lawyers associated with the cases. Of course, every employee ought to have access to data according to his/her business needs, but nothing more.
In fact, even USB ports should not be accessible to employees. It is an easy way for rogue employees or outsiders to copy confidential files on to other devices.
2. Educating Your Employees
In addition to permission control, your law firm should educate its employees regarding data security. They are the end users, who will actually be the first ones to come into contact with the actual threats. If they are not aware, they might just let some extremely harmful malware slip right into the firm’s system.
Therefore, the employees ought to be regularly educated regarding the various threats the system is exposed to. They should be made aware of the various scams they could fall victim to. They have to understand the appropriate behavior and actions they have to take as soon as they encounter something suspicious.
Law firms should understand that employees who are unaware of the threats they might encounter might become the biggest risk to its security.
3. Update your Legal Software
This may seem obvious, but the surprising number of companies that ignore this advice and continue to run old versions of the installed software indicates that most do not follow this ‘obvious’ rule.
Running your legal software, and most other software in fact, without updating its patches is akin to personally asking hackers to have a go at your system.
Hackers are eternally on the prowl for vulnerable systems. Not keeping up-to-date with software patches can prove to be an open door for hackers, who will use this window of opportunity to render your systems defunct.
4. Enforce Strong Passwords
Another one of those oh-so-obvious aphorisms. And yet, how many people would choose a combination of their mom’s name and their birthday (or any variation of this example) as a password?
Your law firm’s IT department should set parameters for strong passwords for every employee. This should at least ensure that your information was not compromised because of something as simple as a bad password. Your passwords do not have to be complex or hard to remember. Passwords of long length with numbers and special characters are preferred.
Deploy a password security system such as LastPass in order to maximize password protection.
5. Continual Monitoring of Threats
Gone are the days when a single, point-in-time assessment was enough to combat security threats. These days, security threats are a dime a dozen. A single assessment or even a monthly one will be counterintuitive to the very purpose of assessments. Law firms need to invest in a perpetual, ongoing monitoring of threats to its systems.
With such a system you stay on track with the continually evolving risks your data is exposed to. Thus allowing you to better evaluate exit plans for crisis scenarios. Continual monitoring is also much more cost-effective and easier to implement now as businesses and processes have moved to the cloud.
6. Invest in a Robust Law Firm Software
One of the best ways to keep your firm protected against the myriad of cybersecurity threats is to invest in a case management software or law firm software. It will not only strengthen your firm’s security but also enhance its efficiency.
A cloud-based legal software is an excellent step towards securing your firm. It is a safer choice than a locally hosted server, and it will perform data backups much more consistently.
The built-in security features of the high-quality legal software are worth the investment if you want your firm to be effectively guarded against the very real risk of data breaches and hacks.
In this age where hackers will exploit the slightest vulnerability in your system, law firms have to be hyper-vigilant with their security measures. Any misstep can contribute to a serious data breach in the system, which will affect the various parties whose confidential information was supposed to be safe with the firm.
The aforementioned measures are obviously not the be-all and end-all of law firm cybersecurity, but they are a good place to start from if you are looking to fortify your practice. These are the primary measures you need to take in order to cover all the bases. Beyond this, you can invest in add-on features of your legal software or even security systems for specific segments of your firm.
Take the first step towards a robust, secure future for your law firm!