Keeping a client’s data confidential and secure is a touchstone of the practice of law. Digital information has also become increasingly portable in the form of cellphones, flash drives, and computer tablets. With the advance of digitally held and transmitted information, keeping that standard intact has become a critical challenge for law firms.

Law firms are becoming a popular target among cyber-thieves. Firms hold vast amounts of sensitive data, and they are perceived as vulnerable by hackers. The good news is that a study of the legal industry by Bitsight showed that law firms are among the highest-rated sectors in cybersecurity. Still, cybersecurity remains a top concern.

Attorneys have become the subject of warnings by the FBI and Homeland Security regarding risks they face from hackers. The Panama Papers, the world’s largest law firm data breach, demonstrate that firms are not safe. Finally, organizations that do business with law firms are demanding a high level of cybersecurity that matches their own to ensure their data is protected.

Digital information travels the information highways at supersonic speeds and cybersecurity prevention methods flow along the same fast, quickly changing highways. There are a number of measures that law firms should take to safeguard the information in their keeping.

  1. Evaluate who has Access to Your Data? Screen new employees carefully. Give access to certain files on a “need to know basis.” Set in place policies to avoid Rogue Access or access by disgruntled former employees and staff.
  2. Keep Your Software Up To Date. Installing patches and updates applies to your security software as well as software such as Microsoft, Apple, Linux, and Adobe, for example.
  3. Train Employees On Cyber Attacks. Innocent employees simply going about their jobs accidentally cause many attacks. Education will go a long way in preventing successful hacks.
  4. Conduct Regular Risk Assessments. According to the SANS Institute, the core areas in a risk assessment are Scope, Data Collection, Analysis of Policies and Procedures, Threat Analysis, Vulnerability Analysis and Correlation, and Assessment of Risk Acceptability.
  5. Implement An Incident Response Plan. Plan for a cyber-attack so that you will know what needs to be done immediately, intermediately and in the long term should your firm come under attack.
  6. Have Employees Use Devices and Email Accounts Issued by the Firm. Firm-issued devices are far easier to control information-wise. When employees leave the firm, it is also much easier to simply take back the device with all the sensitive information intact.
  7. Use a Cloud System. Dedicated IT professionals operate cloud systems. As such, cloud systems tend to be more secure. Users can access the information from anywhere that they can access the Internet. Finally, they are encrypted.

Cybersecurity is simply the cost of doing business in today’s legal world. But the cost is fairly cheap considering what could happen if a firm’s security is breached.

Download as PDF

Want a copy of this article? Download it for free!

Download This Post PDF Icon