Best practices in cybersecurity for law firms follow many of the same rules as the rest of the professional business services sector, except that the level and nature of documentation places added importance on protecting client information. Data privacy is critical in any customer-focused industry or nonprofit subsector, but with legal services consumers have more direct recourse in the event of a data breach – they can sue you.
While the rest of the nation, and world, are still figuring out which businesses bear the responsibility for their clients’ data and to what extent, lawyers are already beholden to strict legal information privacy guidelines. These obligations extend to the cyber realm without question, and law firms that have not taken them seriously have faced scrutiny – and at least one class action lawsuit – from clients and legal associations.
1. Data Breaches & Leaks
Private data is a valuable target of hackers looking to exploit it themselves or sell it on the Dark Web, as are corporate or government secrets that can be stolen by nation-state attackers. Legal case information can present multiple prizes for cybercriminals to exploit against people or organizations. Malicious actors can just as easily leak sensitive materials in a data dump designed to damage credibility.
Data protection requires strict organizational guidelines to be established around accessibility and user permissions. Information security gaps can appear wherever people interact with networked technology, and unsecured endpoints present the greatest opportunity for people looking to infiltrate your system.
2. Malware & Ransomware
Modern enterprise platforms often offer shared storage that leverages the cloud for real-time access and file transfer between users. The downside is that uninformed employees can end up exposing the network to malicious files if they do not follow best practices in securing their data. Hackers can utilize socially engineered attacks to infect an unsuspecting user’s personal device and let them act as the vector for a ransomware attack on your firm’s system – using cloud computing means that you have to ensure endpoints are protected against unauthorized access at all times.
3. Compliance & Malpractice
Data privacy in the legal space is governed by industry and government regulations that obligate practicing lawyers to protect sensitive information and inform clients (current and former) of any potential breach. There is the added potential consequence of a malpractice lawsuit being brought up by clients who feel that your firm has not done enough to protect their data or inform them of a breach. You must ensure that you are following all of the information security guidelines established for your field of law and your region.
Protect Your Law Firm’s Last Line of Defense
All cybersecurity practices have to begin and end with employees – law firms have to contend with personnel who are by habit frequent networkers and often use personal and professional devices interchangeably. Educating and training the lawyers in your firm in information security guidelines can ensure that they do not expose your business to cyber attack.
Download our white paper on using security awareness training to ensure security compliance to learn how to make sure your employees follow cybersecurity best practices.