For law firms, cybersecurity should always be at the forefront of your IT. Data breaches are costly to your operations, your reputation, and to your clients. One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is a strong password and multi-factor authentication (MFA) policy. Here are some of the most effective practices for implementing a strong password and MFA policy for your firm.
- Creating a Password: Passwords are the key to your network, and a weak password leaves your firm at risk. Strong passwords typically consist of a combination of 12-14 characters, including a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Ensure attorneys and staff steer clear of incorporating personal information, such as names, birthdays, or any other information that could be easily guessed, in their passwords.
- Unique Passwords: Using the same password across multiple accounts is a huge cybersecurity risk. If a cybercriminal gains access to one set of credentials, they essentially have the keys to all of your accounts. When formulating your strong password policy, require your attorneys and staff to use unique passwords for every account.
- Password Expiration: Old passwords may not be in line with the latest security recommendations and can compromise your cybersecurity efforts. To ensure the safety of your firm, it's important to implement password expiration policies. For optimal protection, require everyone at your firm to reset their passwords at least every 3-6 months. In the event of a security breach, such as a lost or stolen device, it is crucial to promptly change all passwords to minimize further risk.
- Education: Cybersecurity should always be a priority for your law firm. Regular cybersecurity training not only provides valuable information but also promotes a culture of security-first. Most firms perform training when a new person is hired, which is very important; however, it is also vital to ensure everyone participates in education and training on a regular basis to keep security top of mind. Your internal IT team or managed service provider should offer cybersecurity awareness training to all attorneys and staff. Ensure the cybersecurity training covers everything discussed above, as well as other best practices, such as how to look out for phishing emails and what to do if you click a malicious link.
As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated, relying solely on strong passwords is no longer sufficient for your firm’s cybersecurity. MFA requires an extra step in the login process and can stop a threat in its tracks, even if your passwords are compromised. Here are some best practices for implementing MFA into your cybersecurity policy.
- Use an Authenticator App: While text messages and email codes are generally effective, a phishing attack posing as an MFA notification can compromise your firm. Authenticator apps such as Google Authenticator, Duo, or Microsoft Authenticator are secure and convenient applications that streamline your MFA process. Authenticator apps provide flexibility and are available across multiple platforms.
- Regular Updates: Make sure your MFA applications are always updated with the latest software. Older versions of applications can present security risks and compromise the integrity of your cybersecurity. Your IT team or IT partner should keep these applications, and any others, up to date for your firm.
- Enforcement: Properly enforcing MFA requirements is key for a successful policy. Your IT team should enforce restrictions that require MFA when creating credentials. Ensure that MFA is required and implemented for online accounts, work devices, and applications. MFA is especially important for hybrid or remote work, where cybersecurity risks tend to be much greater.
By implementing these practices into your strong password and MFA policy, your firm can protect its clients and reduce the risk of data breaches.
To learn more about the most effective practices for a hybrid work environment, view our comprehensive guide on technology solutions for hybrid law firms.