Strategies Law Offices Must Deploy To Protect Client Information
Law firms today are increasingly relying on digital tools to provide lawyers and other staff with more flexible access to information, deliver on-demand law information to clients and reduce reliance on paralegals and other administrative staff.
These technological advances have allowed law firms to innovate, develop new revenue-generating services and reduce operating expenses. However, with those advances comes an added risk. With the use of more digital solutions, law firms are exposing their data to greater exposure to cyber attack. The impact of a data breach could be devastating to a law firm, resulting in the loss of clients and reputation.
The growing reliance on technology is why data security for law firms has become more essential than ever. Finding the right legal IT provider that understands law firm needs and can develop comprehensive security solutions is a critical step for law firms.
What Threats Are Law Firms Likely to Face?
Hackers know all too well how critical it is to keep client data safe. That’s why law firms are such a likely target. The American Bar Association’s 2018 annual meeting included a panel discussion to address the risks and the need for active defense. “The consensus of the panel was that cyber attacks are inevitable, and that preparation for law firms was necessary to avoid not only the hardware issues but also post-attack consequences,” the ABA wrote.
Ransomware is a significant risk. A hacker who gains access to sensitive systems can lock out users, cripple a website and demand payment in cryptocurrency before functions are released.
While anti-virus and anti-phishing software have long been a part of a corporate defense against such attacks, hackers are finding new weapons. Cryptoworms are one such example. These invasive programs act similarly to malware and ransomware with one significant distinction. Cryptoworms, once embedded, do not need manual instructions from a hacker to identify and steal personally identifiable information.
As long as hacking remains a lucrative option, hackers will continue to develop new destructive weapons. That’s why data security services for law offices are still needed.
What Solutions Do Law Firms Need to Deploy?
Preventative measures are the first line of defense for law firms. The problem is that like other small- and medium-sized businesses, many law firms do not create a comprehensive layer of securities. Anti-virus software alone is not enough. Here are the main components of a thorough strategy:
- Firewalls. With a firewall in place, your network is protected from intrusion attempts at the perimeter. Next-generation firewalls can detect suspicious activity, including unwanted emails, web access attempts and connected devices. Firewalls need to be actively monitored and issue automated alerts when unwanted activity is found. In most cases, the firewall can contain and neutralize an attack before it can cause any damage.
- Device Security. Every desktop, laptop, smartphone and tablet that connects to your network is a potential opening for hackers. That’s why law firms need to deploy rigorous protections that start with anti-virus, anti-phishing and anti-malware tools. Such software apps should run in the background and be updated automatically to look for new threats.
- Authentication. When a user needs to access sensitive information or a system application, multi-factor authentication should be used. Biometrics and multi-device pins and passwords protect data and are an added line of defense if a mobile device is lost or stolen.
- System Access. Law firms should restrict access to files aggressively, limiting the potential for unintentional or unwanted connection to files unless there’s a clear business need. Processes need to be in place to manage new and departing employee access immediately,
- Encryption. Data is at risk while in transit and at rest. That’s why email and file encryption is an absolute must for law firms.
What Structure Is Necessary for Cybersecurity?
Policies and procedures need to be in place that guides your law firm’s technical solutions.
Explicit, clear policies about cybersecurity need to focus on keeping client data and employee information secure. These policies need to be distributed to all employees and discussed not just in new-employee orientation sessions but as part of annual mandatory training.
Employees need to understand that most cyber attacks start with an unknowing employee clicking on an email link or visiting a damaging website. Effective training raises employee awareness and gives them tips on what to look for to prevent attacks. Some organizations even issue phony phishing emails to test how well employees understand company policy.
Policies should focus on the following:
- Who is responsible for enforcing policies and procedures
- What information is most important and why it needs to be safeguarded
- How long the information is protected
- To whom the policies and procedures apply
How Do I Prepare to Respond to an Attack?
Law firms need to have an incident response plan that’s a core part of your business continuity plan.
Your incident response plan should include well-defined roles for staff responsibilities during and after an attack, including:
- An incident response manager who oversees the team
- Threat researchers who collect data related to the cyber threats
- Triage security analysts who respond to automated alerts to determine if a threat is legitimate or a false positive
- Forensic security analysis who collect information about a data breach and analyze what happened and why
Who Can Help Our Law Firm with Cybersecurity?
Parkway Tech specializes in helping law firms with their IT needs. We understand the importance of keeping sensitive law firm information protected and secure.
At Parkway Tech, we have a relationship-driven approach, taking time to learn about your firm’s needs and goals. In addition to robust cybersecurity solutions, we offer data backup and recovery, business continuity planning, IT consulting, cloud computing and remote help-desk support. To learn how we can help keep your law firm protected, contact us.
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Written by Chris Michalec posted on December 20, 2018
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