Law firm clients have high expectations when it comes to data privacy. As a lawyer, it’s your job to protect your client’s sensitive information and ensure it’s safe from cyber attacks. The problem is that not every law firm implements the latest cybersecurity measures, which leaves them vulnerable to data breaches.
Financial and law firms are the biggest targets of cybercriminals due to the wealth of valuable information they carry. The question now is, how can you shore up your law firm’s defenses? This article will discuss the top tips you can use to reinforce cybersecurity and protect your firm’s data.
1. Establish a data security policy
Most people think that lapses in cybersecurity are due to faulty technology, but often it’s human error that causes data breaches. Around 90% of data breaches in 2019 happened because of personnel mistakes, and the main reason is the lack of a data security policy.
To combat this, you must create an in-depth plan on how your team should store, handle, and access client data. The security policy should also include a step-by-step action on how to respond when a data breach occurs.
Each member should familiarize themselves with the data security policy. Reinforce it on your firm to the utmost degree to ensure there are no gaps in cybersecurity. Using two-factor authentication and fingerprint logins is a good start for restricting data access to qualified personnel.
2. Transition to cloud storage
There’s a reason why cloud storage is becoming more commonplace in the legal industry, and it’s because of its superior data security compared to local storage. Your client’s sensitive information is kept on an encrypted server, making it extremely difficult for cybercriminals to access.
Cloud networks are also under 24/7 surveillance, which adds another layer of protection to your law firm documents. The biggest benefit of cloud storage is that software teams constantly stress-test their servers to identify potential threats. Doing so helps eliminate missing security patches that cybercriminals use to obtain unauthorized access.
Cloud storage keeps your law firm data secure and helps you save costs on data storage, which is perfect for bigger firms that store more client information.
3. Use a password management tool
Managing several passwords can get confusing, especially when using multiple software for your firm. Also, human-generated passwords are often easy to crack, so you’re better off using a password management tool to create, store, and manage passwords.
LastPass and Bitwarden are two of the most reputable password management tools available, and their security measures are way beyond the capacity of normal employees to replicate. These tools let you store multiple passwords in a single location, making logins convenient with a simple click.
You can also rely on their password generator feature, which creates super long, complex passwords that are difficult to figure out. With bank-grade encryption and multi-factor authentication options, you can feel confident that your passwords are safe from the hands of cybercriminals.
4. Fortify your communications
Hackers intercept data in numerous ways, and the most common one is through communication channels. Reviewing any vulnerabilities across your communication channels is wise to prevent data breaches through email or a messaging app.
Instead of using standard messaging apps for sending and receiving data, you can use encrypted messaging services like Signal for your firm. Signal features end-to-end encryption on all forms of messaging (audio, video, text, images, and documents) and supports desktops, Android, and Apple devices.
For an added layer of security, Signal lets you send disappearing messages, thus eliminating the risk of data interception. It’s a free-to-use app that every law firm should have to shore up their cybersecurity and exchange data more confidently.
5. Use a VPN when using cloud-based software
Whenever you use cloud-based software, it’s a good idea to use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your online activity. VPNs play a crucial role in a law firm’s cybersecurity protocol as it prevents cybercriminals from monitoring your web traffic and IP address.
Because your information travels through an encrypted channel, hackers will have a tough time reading your data. Confidentiality is key when using cloud-based software, and a VPN allows you to conceal your identity and browse websites with peace of mind.
You can use a free VPN, but we recommend choosing the paid version as it offers a more comprehensive security package than the free one. NordVPN is a great example as it has over 5,000 servers and allows you to connect up to 6 devices for worry-free browsing.
6. Train your staff on confidentiality issues
Even if you use technology to beef up your firm’s security, the risk of data breaches is still there.
Viruses and malware can reach a law firm through malicious emails containing links designed to steal financial information. That’s why it’s important to train your staff on managing confidentiality issues to minimize the risk of error.
Each member should be familiar with the practices and policies your firm expects them to adhere to, including spam filtering and fraud email verification. Avoid replying to suspicious emails and do not open any attachments under any circumstance.
To protect against phishing scams, pay attention to the following details:
- If the email comes from a public domain, there’s a good chance it’s a phishing email.
- Domain name misspellings are a dead giveaway that the email is fraudulent.
- Poorly written content and grammar construction throughout the email.
- The destination address from the included links doesn’t match the context of the email.
- The email prompts a sense of urgency, encouraging recipients to act quickly or risk losing money/account access.
- Requesting login credentials, bank information, or other sensitive information.
Knowing how to spot fake emails is crucial to fortifying your firm’s security measures. If one of your employees identifies phishing emails, the next step is to report the email and block the email address.
7. Observe wireless protocols
Having strict wireless protocols can help minimize the risk of unauthorized guests accessing your law firm’s data, especially if you’re using an unsecured network. Again, it all comes back to using a VPN when using public WiFi from airports, hotels, and other facilities to prevent data interception.
If you need to access the internet, it’s smarter to use your device’s mobile data instead of WiF. Mobile data is usually encrypted regardless of which network you use (5G, 4G LTE, etc.), allowing you to make transactions safely when you’re out and about.
Also, ensure the website you’re browsing has “HTTPS” in the URL. HTTPS refers to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which encrypts data transfers from the website’s server to your browser. Following these steps reduces the likelihood of cybercriminals capturing sensitive data.
8. Be prepared for the worst
Despite your best efforts, no cybersecurity measure will completely eliminate the risk of a cyberattack. If all else fails and a data breach occurs, you should have a concrete plan on how to respond. Here are a couple of emergency responses you can take:
- Identify the extent of the data breach and backup all your files as soon as possible.
- Maintain your firewall settings and disable remote access.
- Contact your insurance provider about the breach and see how they can help with the attack.
- Contact a digital forensics team to investigate the breach. They’ll examine the network and search for signs of a lingering attack.
- Maintain record-keeping and notify your ISP to preserve all security logs.
A data breach can prove devastating to any law firm, which is why having the right insurance is crucial to limiting the severity of the attack. Cyber liability coverage can protect your firm from costs associated with loss of income, litigation, and other related expenses.
Cyberattacks have become a growing concern for law firms as hackers become more tech-savvy with their tactics. Given the nature of the industry and how much valuable information law firms hold, it’s wise to assess your firm’s cybersecurity and take the necessary steps to fortify it.
Hopefully, these cybersecurity tips will help shore up your law firm’s defenses and fend off attacks from suspicious individuals.
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