What Are the Main Cyber Security Risks Facing Law Firms?
With the ever-growing use of technology in the legal industry, law firms are at an increased risk of cyber attacks. Unlike many other businesses, law firms hold a great deal of sensitive personal information relating to their clients and customers making them a prime target.
Cyber attacks can come in many forms, from viruses and malware, to phishing scams and ransomware. While some law firms may have robust cyber security measures, others may not be lucky. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of the various cyber security risks facing law firms, so you can take steps to protect your firm from them. Here are some of the leading cyber security risks to look out for:
Top Cyber Security Risks Facing Law Firms
Ransomware is malware that encrypts a victim’s files, making them unusable, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt the files. Ransomware attacks are becoming more common and they can have a devastating effect on law firms. Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting law firms with ransomware attacks since these organisations often have large amounts of sensitive data that they need to protect. In many cases, the attackers will demand a ransom payment to decrypt the files and return them to the victim.
Ransomware attacks can significantly impact law firms, losing crucial data and client information. In some cases, the attackers may even threaten to release the data publicly if the ransom is not paid. There are a number of measures that law firms can take to protect themselves from ransomware attacks, including backing up data regularly and ensuring that security software is up to date. However, it is important to remember that no system is completely secure, and ransomware attacks can still occur.
Identity theft is a serious concern for individuals and not unique to law firms. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information, such as your name, medicare card number or credit card number, without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. For law firms, identity theft can pose a serious risk to their reputation and bottom line. In addition to the potential financial losses incurred, identity theft can also lead to a loss of client trust and confidence.
There are many ways that identity thieves can obtain your personal information. They may find your information in the trash, buy it from someone who has stolen it or even hack into your computer to get it.
It is vital to keep all sensitive personal information secure to protect against identity theft. Ensure that you are shredding all documents that contain personal information and do not carelessly carry around physical copies of these documents.
Cybercriminals will also attempt to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or downloading malware in social engineering attacks. These attacks are often targeted at specific individuals or groups within an organisation. There are several ways in which social engineering attacks can take place, including:
1. Phishing Attacks
One of the most common ways hackers target law firms is through phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of cyber attack in which the attacker attempts to trick the victim into clicking on a malicious link or opening a malicious attachment. Often, these attacks are disguised as legitimate emails from trusted sources. Once the victim clicks on the link or attachment, the attacker can access their computer and any sensitive information stored within it.
It is important to be vigilant when opening emails and only click on links from trusted sources to protect against phishing attacks. Additionally, law firms should consider investing in an excellent anti-phishing solution. The Australian Government has commented that email scans like this cost businesses more than $128million in 2020 .
Another common cyber-security risk facing law firms is malware. Malware is a type of software designed to damage or disable computers. Attackers can use malware to delete files, steal information or even take control of the victim’s computer.
There are many different types of malware and new variants are created all the time. To protect against malware, law firms should ensure that all of their computers have up-to-date anti-virus software installed. Additionally, employees should be trained to spot suspicious emails and attachments that may contain malware.
3. Vishing Calls
These are phone calls from someone posing as a legitimate person or organisation, such as a bank or the IT department. The caller will try to trick the lawyer into giving away personal or financial information. If you have any concerns about vishing you should not disclose any information on the phone call and, instead, call a legitimate phone number for that business yourself.
IoT Security Threats
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the growing trend of internet-connected devices. It includes everything from smart thermostats to connected cars. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, there is an increased attack risk. Hackers can access these devices and use them to launch attacks on other devices or networks. Additionally, cybercriminals can use IoT to collect sensitive data about the user.
It’s critical to carefully examine any IoT equipment utilised in the legal company for potential security vulnerabilities. Check for and swiftly repair any security flaws. Consider using a network segmentation technique to isolate IoT devices from your network to mitigate risk further.
Confidential Client Data Breaches
In recent years, clients have become much more discerning regarding the firms they instruct. This is partly due to the ever-growing list of data breaches that make news headlines every week. However, in addition to being more aware of the potential risks, clients are also now demanding increased levels of assurance from the firms they work with.
One of the critical areas where this is evident is in relation to cyber security. Clients want to be confident that their confidential data will be well protected, and they are increasingly looking for reassurance on this front before instructing a firm.
As a result, law firms have had to up their game regarding cyber security. Firms need to ensure that they have robust systems and processes in place to protect client data, and they also need to be able to provide evidence of this if asked.
We recently caught up with leading law firm, MinterEllison who already use our software Glue, to understand more about how they are approaching their cyber security challenges. Some of MinterEllisons approaches include prioritising education and incentivising employees for completing this and reporting phishing emails and cybersecurity breaches. To see more, watch the full webinar here.
As the world becomes increasingly digitised, law firms face new and more complex cyber security risks to stay on top of. Whilst many of these risks are similar to those other businesses face, law firms do have some unique considerations. One of the most significant cyber security risks facing law firms is the threat of data breaches. Given the highly sensitive nature of the information that law firms handle, even a small data breach can have significant consequences. In addition to the risk of reputational damage, data breaches can also lead to financial losses and legal liabilities.