As you’ll know all too well, law firms have access to all kinds of sensitive data.
Financial records. Intellectual Property. Personally Identifiable Information. This kind of information is valuable. And hackers and other bad actors know it.
Cyber attacks on law firms of all sizes are increasing in number and scope:
In 2021, Campbell, Conroy & O’Neil – whose clients include Apple, Boeing, IBM and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies – suffered a data breach from a ransomware attack.
British firm Gateley – the first to list in the UK – was also criticised for its own recent data breach.
With other high-profile breaches like that which led to the release of the “Panama Papers” still in mind, many law firm owners, partners, and decision-makers have the cybersecurity of their firm and the safety of their clients’ information squarely on their agendas.
How big is the cybersecurity problem in the legal sector?
A report from a well-known cybersecurity firm in May 2021 discovered that of the thousands of law firms they sampled, roughly 15% had networks that appeared to be compromised.
Another report – this time by the American Bar Association – found that approaching 1 in 3 law firms had recently reported a cybersecurity breach. Around 20% reported that they weren’t even sure if they had been breached.
The average cost of a cybersecurity breach in the UK is £2.37 million (that’s around £100 per record lost or stolen). That’s a big problem for a major firm.
For a smaller or niche legal firm – many of whom appear tastier targets to cybercriminals because they tend to have less robust security measures – even a correspondingly smaller cost can be disastrous.
That’s not to mention the possible fines and other legal action undertaken by clients who thought their information was safe in your hands.
Cybersecurity for law firms – the essentials
In addition to meeting cybersecurity standards like those laid out in the UK government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme, any law firm that routinely handles sensitive data should:
1) Consider a SIEM system
SIEM stands for Security Information and Event Management. This kind of system tracks and collates the data from your anti-virus, spam protections, intrusion detection software, firewalls, and all of the other cyber protections you have – or should have – in place.
This kind of data can be hard to parse on its own. A SIEM system makes it easy for your in-house IT specialists or managed service provider to manage your system, check the logs, and monitor your information security continuously.
2) Set up 24/7 monitoring
Responses to threats and events in your network traffic need to be monitored in real-time.
With the right systems in place, your in-house IT team should be able to handle this. Your managed service provider should be able to set up this kind of monitoring to happen remotely.
Either should be able to help you set up your system to manage and sort the hundreds of flags that can be generated by a properly functioning SIEM system every day.
3) Get in cybersecurity expertise if you don’t have it
Don’t have an in-house IT team with up-to-date knowledge? It’s time to consider the alternatives. If you are on-the-ball technologically speaking, you’ll know that managed service providers have replaced the IT support firms of yesteryear.
A managed service provider doesn’t work on a “fix when broken” principle. Instead, it’s their role to work with you and your team to assess your cybersecurity needs – and use of technology in general – to ensure your and your clients’ information is secure. They can help you:
- Understand cybersecurity compliance standards, such as Cyber Essentials
- Create threat assessments and analyses
- Choose the most suitable tools, software and protections
- Set up proper monitoring so you know you are protected
- Work out how you would respond to alerts and breaches
4) Create a disaster recovery plan
What would you do if you suffered a data breach tomorrow? An incident response or disaster recovery plan lays out exactly what you would do to stop the threat and any further harm.
A good response plan should cover the actions and responsibilities not only of your IT specialists but your entire team. In this, it’s much like how all of your cybersecurity should be set up to be.
Need to know for sure that your law firm is cyber secure?
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