law firm cyber security
Legal07 March, 2018

How to protect your law firm from cyber threats

It's no revelation that a vital step towards building a future proof law firm is leaving absolutely nothing to chance when it comes to cybersecurity, especially with law firm cyber threats on the rise.

Law firms store a large amount of highly confidential legal data making them a potentially lucrative target for cyber hackers. And aside from the impact on a firm's reputation and client relationships (a devastating consequence in itself!) the mere financial implications of a hack or breach can be catastrophic.

For instance, a data breach could result in malpractice suits of around $217 per record - meaning if your entire records system is breached, you’re looking at millions.

Yet despite the risks, many law firms tend to be so focused on day-to-day operations that they become complacent about cybersecurity thinking it won’t happen to them. Or maybe they think they’re doing enough. Sound familiar?

According to a 2017 cybersecurity report, about two-thirds of law firms have experienced a data breach, and more alarmingly every firm assessed had been targeted by hackers.

On top of this, more and more clients and corporations are requesting IT audits to mitigate their own risk. In fact, it is estimated that from 2018, 65% of clients will make use of IT audits, putting even more pressure on firms to step up their security to win new clients and keep current ones.

Types of law firm cyber threats

1. Ransomware - malicious software which can block access and encrypt files. These can enter the system through unsecured websites or links or by having outdated anti-virus software. For obvious reasons, law firms as seen as gold mines by hackers who demand a hefty ransom. However even after the sum is paid there is no guarantee you will regain access to all your files or that they weren't copied to be used at a later date. For this reason, a system where your data is securely stored off-site and backed up daily can prevent this. Better still if it can pre-empt vulnerability and prevent potential attacks.

2. Malspam - a virus that can enter a system or network and jeopardise security. Examples include trojans disguised as legitimate software to spy on the user and gain backdoor access to sensitive information, computer viruses that spread between users and blended threats that expose multiple vulnerable points.

3. Human error - such as break-ins, lost/stolen equipment or employee negligence. If everything is sitting on your physical servers or if multiple employees take work home or store client data on their own devices, it is almost a matter of time before you're exposed. As a matter of fact, a 2016 Harvard Business Review report revealed that the main threat to a firm was insiders rather than the usual external suspects.

How to protect against law firm cyber threats

Cloud solutions are the best choice since they not only protect your data against physical threats but offer 24/7 automatic backups to keep files safe and ready whenever you need them. Using dedicated secure file sharing portals, instead of email, is also a way to reduce cybersecurity risks. Not only can you authorize specific people to access and share documents, but you can also track who has accessed documents for added security.

Choosing an ISO 27001 certified practice management system like Kleos can help you ensure that your firm is protected against threats and demonstrate to clients that you adhere to the highest security standards. It also detects threats and alerts you via email to update your anti-virus programs. And as threats become more sophisticated, so does your system - never leaving you vulnerable!

Keen to know more about how you can future-proof your firm in terms of cybersecurity and in other areas? Download our free whitepaper: Building a future-proof law firm with legal tech.

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