Best Cybersecurity Practices for Law Firms


Law firms are a “chamber of secrets”— they protect the confidentiality and data of clients. It’s no wonder malicious actors target law firms— to steal data from “the chamber of secrets”. Without cybersecurity solutions, law firms face a mountainous battle to ensure data protection. 

In the 2019 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, 26% of law firms experienced data infiltration. Not only are cybersecurity breaches prevalent in law firms, but they also go unnoticed. The bigger the firm, the likelier information security breaches go unnoticed. The perceived complacency of law firms towards information security is one good reason malicious attacks have been on the rise in the legal industry. 

One consequence of cyber breaches for law firms is financial risks, but it’s not limited to this. For example, DLA Piper, a global law firm, infamously suffered a total breakdown in operations because of a malware attack in 2017. Ethical and legal issues and reputational damages are also detrimental consequences specific to law firms that undergo data breaches. 

Wondering what cybersecurity solutions can help your law firm stay ahead of hackers? This article explains the best cybersecurity solutions that can help law firms prevent cybersecurity threats.

Cybersecurity Threats Common to Law Firms                              

As previously mentioned, law firms are figuratively best described as a “chamber of secrets”. Law firms house sensitive data, valuable secrets, and intellectual properties of clients and employees. As such, they're a gold mine for malicious attackers who want what the “chambers of secrets” keep. Hackers devise several illegal techniques to infiltrate the system of law firms. As a precautionary move, you need to get acquainted with the common threats law firms face in preventing cyber breaches. 

Below are the cybersecurity threats common to law firms:

1. Phishing: The volume of data transferred and stored on emails and other digital tools make the legal sector appealing to phishing attackers. A reported 80% of cyber attacks on the legal sector are phishing attacks. Phishing attackers always look to gain illegal access to sensitive data through false emails or spoofing the emails of credible sources or clients. 

Malicious attackers also use spear-phishing to gain unauthorized access to the data systems of specific individuals or top-officials. A popular phishing scam is the data breach involving the previously mentioned DLA Piper. The scam was initiated when a DLA Piper administrator mistook a phishing “update” that contained malware for a regular software update.

The attackers used the phishing scam to send malware— initially disguised as ransomware— to the software systems of DLA Piper. Talk about being clever…

2. Ransomware Attack: Ransomware is a form of malicious malware attack that locks and encrypts access to a file until a ransom is paid. In a typical illegal fashion, the payment of ransom doesn’t guarantee that the encrypted files will be decrypted.

Ransomware attacks are cunning means malicious attackers use to extort money and sensitive details from law firms. Ransomware attacks often replicate into other hard drive systems and often lead to huge financial loss and system breakdown. 

3. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) Attack: MITM attack is an information security penetration where a third-party intercepts communication between an end-user and a legitimate source. Think of MITM as a wiretapping technique where an intruder eavesdrops on your conversations to steal login details to private accounts, or corrupt your data. 

A good example of a MITM attack occurred in 2015 where MITM attackers gained unauthorized entry into the server of several law firms in New Jersey, USA. With the unauthorized entry, the attackers redirected emails from the servers and used the information for fraudulent activities. 

4. Data Hacking: Gaining unauthorized entry into the websites, emails, and servers of law firms sit atop the pyramid of activities malicious attackers fancy. Law firms are particularly vulnerable to email manipulations because of the high use of email for interactions and payments. Website hacking is also quite popular.

The infamous hacking of the global law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which led to the release of 11.5 million files buttresses why you need to review your websites regularly. In Mossack Fonseca’s case, the attackers infiltrated the system by exploiting the vulnerable out-of-date software to leak sensitive information.

5 Cybersecurity Solutions for Law Firms 

You need cybersecurity solutions to avoid data infiltration in your law firms. Cybersecurity solutions are preventive measures designed to help you navigate common threats such as third-party-related issues, unsecured cloud storage, and password insecurity that may compromise your security system. 

Listed below are 5 cybersecurity solutions that'll improve your defense system: 

1. Password Managers

From an ethical, financial, and security view, law firms should ensure to protect passwords on all devices and systems. As a law firm, you don’t want malicious actors infiltrating your networks through simple, guessable passwords like “password” or any other conventional password. Password managers such as LastPass or 1Password will help you to protect your login details from third-party violators. 

2. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

While password managers are good, password managers plus MFAs are better. This is because MFAs give an extra layer of security. For law firms, you need to enforce MFAs in your systems to ensure that every login attempt into your accounts comes from a verified source. 

3. Data Encryption

Law firms store and transfer valuable data through different tools and systems. Data encryption converts your data to unreadable texts and makes it inaccessible to third-parties without an encryption key. 

Without data encryption, you risk exposing your data during transfer. Data encryption ensures that your data, whether stored in an email or cloud storage, is protected against malicious third-parties without an encrypted key to decrypt your data.

4. Regular Reviews and Updates

Regular updates and reviews are an overlooked yet crucial aspect of information security. Software updates bring additional security, bug fixes, and improved performance. If you don't update your software systems, you risk operating with vulnerable software applications. Reviews allow you to detect bugs and risks that may be affecting your system. 

5. Third-Party Security

Let's face it, the security system of your law firm may be right and up-to-date yet your system gets infiltrated through a third-party. You need to ensure that third-parties affiliated with your law firms are secure. Ensure that affiliated third-party organizations comply with regulatory rules and third-party security assessments to avoid third–party–related breaches.

Final Thoughts

Law firms are regularly entrusted with sensitive documents and data. Information security solutions are policies and tools that allow law firms to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of data. 

At NWtechnologies, we’ll ensure that your law firm installs and complies with the best cybersecurity solutions. Our IT services which include cybersecurity auditing, cybersecurity compliance, and incidence planning will help you to update your systems and ensure protection against any form of external infringement. Our consultation services and cybersecurity insurance policies will also help your law firm to maneuver the impacts of data breaches. Contact us now to schedule a session with any of our experts.

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