Law firms are attractive marks for cybercriminals, who have increasingly targeted the legal industry with phishing, ransomware, and other attacks. According to the 2022 ABA Cybersecurity Tech Report, 27% of law firms have experienced some form of a security breach. Security and data breaches can be very costly, with the average price tag rising to $4.35 million globally in 2022, according to IBM’s annual Cost of a Data Breach Report. The ethical and legal responsibility to protect clients’ private information creates added risk for law firms, which must take a multi-faceted approach to protect their IT systems and data. Here are five things every law firm needs to know about cybersecurity.
Up-to-Date Systems and Software
The threat landscape is constantly evolving, and the use of antiquated hardware and software creates vulnerabilities in your system that can open the door to criminals. While current systems and software receive regular updates from the manufacturer, older products do not, leaving gaps in your firm’s security. A law firm must have a protocol in place to ensure all software is updated and that security patches are installed as soon as they become available. When you work with cloud-based technologies such as Software as a Service (SaaS) or Desktop as a Service (DaaS), the cloud service provider will handle updates, ensuring you are always working on the most up-to-date version.
While up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software and firewalls are critical to security, they will not stop every threat. These protections must be supplemented with 24/7/365 monitoring of your entire system, to identify unusual activity that could indicate an attack has occurred or is underway. Round-the-clock monitoring must be accompanied by a breach response plan, to ensure rapid response to thwart potential attacks and limit any damage.
Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
It may sound simplistic, but the use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) can go a long way in preventing attacks. If your firm hasn’t already done so, it’s high time to implement and enforce a strict password policy that requires strong, complex passwords, prompts users to update their passwords on a regular basis, and requires MFA for access. MFA requires users to enter a code or another form of authentication in addition to a password. For an extra layer of security, individual users’ access should be limited to those systems and data that they need to perform their role.
Attorney and Staff Training
Human error contributes to 95% of successful cyberattacks, according to IBM and the Cyber Security Intelligence Index. This statistic underscores the important role that employee training plays in a law firm’s cybersecurity defenses. Every member of the firm needs to be regularly trained in how to recognize current and emergent threats and the immediate actions they should take in response to these threats. All employees should be given frequent reminders about the dangers of engaging in unsafe practices, such as clicking on links from unknown sources and visiting unsecured websites. As threats continue to evolve, training should be required and updated periodically.
Vetting IT Partners
Because of the complexity of IT, many law firms choose to partner with a managed service provider for some or all of their IT functions. When working with third-party providers, it’s important to vet their security practices. Your IT partner should take a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity, with an emphasis on defensive measures to provide state-of-the-art protection for your systems and data. If you are working with a cloud service provider, ensure that the provider’s private cloud operates from multiple data centers that are enterprise N+1 level facilities with multiple layers of security, including biometric access controls and military-grade encryption. Also, check that these facilities are third-party audited and that they meet all compliance standards required by the legal industry as well as your clients’ industries.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of Managed IT Services and Desktop as a Service (DaaS). To learn more about how our state-of-the-art IT solutions can make your firm’s operations more efficient and secure, contact us.